May 21

All These Plastic Water Bottles Are Pissing Me Off

ban-water-bottlesI just got back from a trip to the store, and it’s got me in an irritated mood. I’m irritated because I purchased four cases of bottled water. $12 for 96 plastic bottles of water, all conveniently shrunk-wrapped in more plastic.

$12 for that many bottles of water? What’s my problem? That doesn’t seem so bad. And it’s not even for me, I bought it to take up north to my in-law’s cottage. How can something like buying water for somebody else set me off?

Well, first of all, it doesn’t take too much of anything to get me going. But in this case, it’s the entire water bottling industry that’s pissed me off. It’s all just so…wasteful. A waste of money, a waste of plastic, and a huge waste of our public water systems.

Bottled water has caught on in this country over the last decade or so in a big, big way. We’ve been blasted with advertising and marketing to believe that our regular old tap water is no good. Dirty. Fouled. Yucky tasting. Unsafe. Full of disease. But you know what? It’s not. Here’s a dirty little secret that the Nestle’s and Coca-Cola’s of the bottled water world really don’t want you to know: While city dwellers in centuries past got their water from polluted waterways choked with animal carcasses, blood, fecal matter, chemicals, dyes, and a million other terrible things, modern plumbing and water sanitation systems have in the last hundred years or so given the U.S.the cleanest, safest water supplies in the world, in the history of the world, and it’s so cheap that it’s very nearly free…

…But… Don’t ever underestimate the power of big corporations with bottomless advertising budgets. Their bottled water is better, dammit! It’s ‘filtered.’ It’s ‘natural spring water.’ It’s ‘purified.’

Part of my anger comes out of jealousy. I mean, why couldn’t I come up with an idea like bottled water? Convince people that something so vital to life that we’d all be dead without it is better if it’s bottled in nonrenewable plastic bottles made from oil, and sold to us at a markup of thousands of percentage points? We’ve all been duped like a bunch of dumb rubes into believing that because it’s in a bottle, conveniently located at the grocery store, labeled with all kinds of feel-good words, and priced higher, it’s better water. But it’s not. Most of it is the same tap water we all have access to for nearly free. Sure it’s filtered, but all municipal water is. Spring water? Doesn’t make it better. What brilliance! If you’re really quiet, you can hear the CEOs of these water bottling companies laughing their asses all the way to the bank. I’m pissed because I didn’t think of it first.

It’s all just so ridiculous and wasteful. Here in Michigan, a mega-corporation (Nestle) bottles groundwater and sells it back to us because they’ve somehow convinced us that our own Michigan groundwater is no good. And they charge ridiculous amounts for it. True, 40 cents or a dollar doesn’t seem like much for 16 or so ounces of water. But when you consider that that bottle contains, at most, fractions of a cent worth of water, it feels more like a rip off. Convenience? Sure water bottles are convenient, but A: get your own water bottle and hell, you can fill it for free, and B: We don’t have to have water with us everywhere we go, at all times. Again, marketing tells us we’ve got to ‘stay hydrated’ at all times. Kids in schools, moms in the car, workers in their offices, everybody’s feels like they’ve got to have a bottle of water with them. Did you carry a water bottle to all your classes when you were a kid? No, I didn’t either. We had water fountains to quench our thirst.

There are very few of us who are becoming dehydrated so quickly while we’re going about our daily business. Unless we’re training for the Olympics, most of us can go without water for an hour or two until we can get to a drinking fountain or grab a glass of water in the kitchen or break room. It’s a proven fact.

All these billions and billions of water bottles are choking the planet with plastic. Plastic made out of oil. Most of this plastic ends up in the landfill after only one use. This strikes me as incredibly wasteful, and for no good reason. Some of it gets recycled, which is better, but still…plastic bottles are usually recycled into other products like carpet, or composite lumber, stuff like that, stuff that when it’s reached the end of its life cycle can’t be recycled, and ends up being burned or landfilled. So recycling plastic bottles is really just putting off the inevitable plastic pollution. Water companies love to greenwash us with how much they’re reducing the amount of plastic in their bottles, but with millions of bottles being used annually,it’s a bunch of crap. Tap water uses no plastic whatsoever. That’s a tough number to beat.

And don’t even get me started on the companies continuing to bottle water in drought-stricken areas.

bottledwatercartoonThe solution to this particular problem, and it is a problem, is simple: Stop Buying Plastic Water Bottles. This article right HERE serves as inspiration for today’s rant. I felt really guilty buying 4 cases of water bottles. And I feel guilty when I use them; I’m not on any holier-than-thou soap box scolding the rest of the world for their wastefulness and laziness. I use my fair share of water bottles, but I’m telling the truth when I say that I try not to, and I’m trying to eliminate them. I never use them at home. Unless it has arsenic or flecks of shit floating in it, I’ll stick with my tap water. But it doesn’t, and I’m willing to bet yours doesn’t either.

But what about people who have legitimate concerns over the safety of their drinking water? Obviously, if your water has harmful things in it, you’ve got to do whatever is necessary to have clean water. But aren’t plastic single use water bottles a band-aid for a larger problem? Seems to me like the focus should be on cleaning up the tap water in the first place, not trucking in water from somewhere else. Of course, there are times like natural disasters or other emergencies when bottled water can be a lifesaver. But for most of us, in our everyday lives? No. No No No.

And what about people who are concerned about stuff in their water that’s not necessarily harmful, but just not wanted. I know people who are concerned with levels of chlorine (used to sanitize municipal water) or fluoride (used to prevent cavities) in their water. Some have well water that hasn’t been tested and feel better drinking filtered water. My suggestion? First, get your water tested by a lab to find out exactly what’s in it. Here in town, we get a detailed test report from the city, showing what’s in our water and how much. It’s typically very clean. But if your town doesn’t do this, or you have a well, test it. A quick google search will identify water-testing labs in your area, or you can go to a national lab like National Testing Lab. Affordable home testing kits like THIS one will also get you a good idea of what’s in your water. Second, get a water filter for your home instead of buying bottled water. An initial investment in a water filtration system can give you years of much cheaper clean water, without all the stupid plastic. There are different types of water filters, from simple filters for individual taps, to whole home filters that use technology such as distillation, reverse osmosis, UV light, and more.

Some people, like my in-laws, buy water bottles simply because they don’t like the taste of their water. Minerals like iron can give water a different taste or discoloration without making it unsafe to drink. Again, for those who just want better tasting water, a home filtration system is a much more affordable route to take.

Listen….I can’t tell anybody what to do, or how they should spend their money. You want to buy water bottles? Buy water bottles. But please, try not to. Try to cut back. And don’t get mad when I tell you that it’s a wasteful, overpriced habit. For me? If I’m going to buy a bottle of any kind of beverage, it’d better have some booze in it, or at the very least some sugar or caffeine.

Check out this Story of Stuff Project video about Bottled Water and the phenomenon of Manufactured Demand:


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Posted May 21, 2015 by brainstembob@yahoo.com in category "Environment", "Green Living

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