Laura Erickson's For the Birds

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

New York Times: In Praise of Tap Water

Yesterday's New York Times has a great editorial about why it's a bad idea to buy bottled water. They cover most of the important points, too. Read the whole editorial here. Here's an exceprt:
Instead of consuming four billion gallons of water a year in individual-sized bottles, we need to start thinking about what all those bottles are doing to the planet’s health.

Here are the hard, dry facts: Yes, drinking water is a good thing, far better than buying soft drinks, or liquid candy, as nutritionists like to call it. And almost all municipal water in America is so good that nobody needs to import a single bottle from Italy or France or the Fiji Islands. Meanwhile, if you choose to get your recommended eight glasses a day from bottled water, you could spend up to $1,400 annually. The same amount of tap water would cost about 49 cents.

Next, there’s the environment. Water bottles, like other containers, are made from natural gas and petroleum. The Earth Policy Institute in Washington has estimated that it takes about 1.5 million barrels of oil to make the water bottles Americans use each year. That could fuel 100,000 cars a year instead. And, only about 23 percent of those bottles are recycled, in part because water bottles are often not included in local redemption plans that accept beer and soda cans. Add in the substantial amount of fuel used in transporting water, which is extremely heavy, and the impact on the environment is anything but refreshing.

Tap water may now be the equal of bottled water, but that could change. The more the wealthy opt out of drinking tap water, the less political support there will be for investing in maintaining America’s public water supply. That would be a serious loss. Access to cheap, clean water is basic to the nation’s health.

4 comments :

  1. It was a great editorial. Unfortunately they got one of the statistics wrong, by a factor of 10. In 2006, more than 18 million barrels of oil equivalent (not 1.5 million) were used to make those bottles. That's enough oil to power one million cars!

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  2. Yeah -- whatever. Drinking from plastic sucks. Plastic bags suck. Let's abandon plastic for the cheap, ugly, unattractive material that it is.

    Really -- SF recently outlawed plastic grocery bags ... Stainless and glass containers are much better tasting.

    let's just do it for aesthetic reasons.

    Plastic sucks.

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  3. anonymous - where did you hear of that statistic? I'm curious so that when I tell others, I can provide a reliable source.

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  4. This is quoted from the July 31, 2007 New York Times.

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