Bottled Water, Bottled Hype Part 1
Have you ever stopped to think about just how incredibly odd it is to buy bottled water? I'm only recently coming to understand just how ludicrous the whole thing is.
Really, think about it:
- America has some of the best civil infrastructure in the world. Most Americans have clean drinking water piped directly into their sinks. Yet, we persist in buying the bottled stuff.
- Sales of bottled water topped $35 billion in 2003, and have gone up steadily since.
- Bottled water costs consumers of the Starbucks Ethos brand roughly $9.85 per gallon, just a tad more than gasoline. Oh, wait - yes, that's triple the cost of gasoline. Now, not everyone buys Ethos-brand bottled water, and you can get a purified gallon of water at the supermarket for roughly a dollar. That's still a dollar too much.
Time for a Metaphor
Let's imagine that there's a guy who lives in France, we'll call him Pepe, who generates really green electricity from his windfarm. He can ship the power in the form of HUGE batteries, from France. You can then go the store, buy a huge battery, hook the battery up to your house, and voila!- you are able to use it to power your lights. Great! When you are finished, you just throw the battery away and buy another one at the store. Sure, you could just use the electricity that is wired into your home, but green power is better, right?
Well, when we buy bottled water, especially bottled water from overseas (like Fiji), that's exactly what we are doing. We're deciding against something that we have immediate access to, something that pours freely into our sinks at the twist of a handle. But instead, many of us prefer to purchase water. Water, which is sort of ubiquitous, now arrives in plastic bottles, bottles that are polluting to create and polluting to get rid of.
Fossil fuels are burned moving the water across the ocean (in what I like to call "an ironic twist"), and then a diesel-burning truck brings the water to your grocery store, which you drive to in your gas-burning car.
Where you buy it. And drink it. And throw away the bottle.
The environmental impact that the bottled water craze is having on our planet is staggering:
Bottled water is responsible for an enormous increase in world production of plastic bottles. Surging sales of bottled water coincided with and may help account for a 56 per cent increase in U.S. plastic resin manufacture in the U.S.A. between 1995 and 2001 (from 32 million tons to over 50 million tons annually). Consuming critical supplies of petroleum and natural gas, plastic bottle factories create and release toxic wastes, including benzine, xylene, and oxides of ethylene into the environment.
Drinking bottled water actually increases the price of gasoline, because the manufacturing of the bottles and the transportation of the water simply increases demand for oil. I'm not going to say that if you drink Evian, the terrorists have won, but keep in mind that when you buy bottled water, you're not just consuming bottled water. You're consuming (and paying for) all of the chemicals that went into producing that bottle that the water arrived in, as well as the gas and oil consumed in bringing the water to you.
It's shockingly inefficient. It's also ridiculously bad for our planet:
"About 300 billion pounds of plastic are produced each year, said Charles Moore, founder of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. That's 1,000 pounds for every American.
"And massive amounts of it are washing into the sea.
"Swirling in the Pacific Ocean is an area of man-made trash the size of Texas. A few years ago Moore towed a fine mesh net like a giant cheesecloth through the area -- dubbed the "great garbage patch." The haul contained six times more plastic than plankton."
Read that full article in the Seattle PI - I guarantee that it will make you think carefully about throwing away plastic. One thing that I didn't know was how plastic is capable of degrading. I had always been told that a plastic bottle now is a plastic bottle 2000 years from now - but plastic does break down into smaller pieces, and it's everywhere.
The trouble is that there's no effective way to remove the plastic pollution, whether it's in chunks or microscopic bits. Researchers say the solution is keeping it out of the water in the first place. And there's good reason to do so: it's on our dinner plates.
(Photo by shutterbug hottie shrff14)