06 September 2012


By the year 2030 two-thirds of the world will lack access to clean drinking water.

This morning I sat down and I watched the documentary Tapped. After I watched Bag It last week, one of my roommates recommended Tapped to me as another good documentary about plastics. I promptly checked it out of the library (have I ever mentioned that I love libraries?) I'm coming to realize that I actually feel pretty strongly about environmental issues, and plastics littering our oceans is something that really bothers me. Bottled water also bothers me. Before watching this film, bottled water always bothered me from a financial point of view. Why would I want to spend $1.80+ to buy a bottle of water when I can get a drink from a water fountain for free? To me, I have a hard time understanding why someone would want to spend that kind of money. But then, I also don't get things like soda at restaurants for much the same reason.

I thought that Tapped was a fascinating look at the bottled water industry and the effect that it has on our lives. And below are some of the things that I took away:

40% of bottled water is just filtered tap water.

80% of PETE produced in the US ends up in Nestle, Pepsi, or Coke beverage containers

Municipal (tap) water is highly regulated and bottled water is virtually unregulated.

Municipal water providers have to test their water 300-400 times per month to ensure safety of their water. They also have to make their reports available to the public. Bottle water providers don't have to test their water or provide their reports.

We put an awful lot of faith and blind trust in a for-profit industry that is almost entirely self-regulated.

BPA is present in many kinds of plastic bottles, including water coolers, sport bottles, and baby bottles.

BPA has links to obesity, cancer, diabetes, ADHD, and many other diseases.

FDA approval of products comes from and is based on studies that are performed by the industry the product comes from. They don't typically ask for independent studies when looking at approving a product.

World average for beverage bottle recycling is 50%. US average is 20%.

Only 11 states offer container deposit legislation. (you pay a deposit on the bottle when you purchase and get it back when you return the bottle.) But only 6 of these have bills to include bottled water.

Michigan, which has a 10 cent deposit gets a 97% return rate. Other states with a 5 cent deposit get about a 70% return rate.

About half of Americans don't have access to curbside recycling.

Bottled water may have its place in disaster relief, but there issues around bottled water that make it unsuitable for regular use.

You're really better off just refilling a reusable water bottle at the drinking fountain.

I feel very grateful that I didn't grow up in a household that drank a lot of bottled water. Certainly we had some, picnics, the beach, vacations, etc., but generally when we were at home tap water was good enough for us. And I am so glad. I think it will make my desire to completely give up bottled water that much easier. If the demand for bottled water wasn't there I don't think that the bottling companies would bottle as much of it. I challenge you to consciously think, next time you have bottled water, about where your water comes from and where the plastic bottle is going to go when you're done with it.
There is enough water for human need, but not for human greed. --Mahatma Ghandi


Katrina said...

I was absolutely going to buy reusable bags at Smith's yesterday (After I read this) but low and behold I didn't remember too until I got home. I'm blaming that one on the pregnancy brain :) Next time.

Emily said...

I swear remembering to use the reusable bags is 2/3 of the battle. Last time I went to the store I brought in two bags, but still ended up carrying out a regular paper bag too...