Monday, August 6, 2007

Water Water Everywhere...

The bottled water industry has been getting it pretty hard from just about everyone of late. If it's not the amount of non-biodegradable waste the bottles account for, it's the fact that most bottled water is just filtered tap water (or should I use the more industry-friendly term of "PWS - Public Water Source", as Pepsi Co has decided to label it's top-selling Aquafina?).

With regard to the first point, I recognize that most (all?) bottled water is packaged in recyclable materials, and that it's the consumers who aren't disposing of the bottles properly. I also recognize that there are many other "drinks" that contribute to the issue (juices, soft drinks, sports drinks, etc.), so the blame should be exclusively left on the bottled water industry's doorstep. On the other hand, an environmental problem of this size isn't minimized just because of a rerouting of blame-assigning finger pointing (as legit as it might be).

But the part that really surprised me is related to the cost, as compared to regular municipal water sources. Consider:

You can get at least 450 gallons of L.A. tap water for the $1.35 you'd pay
for 20 ounces of Aquafina. Turn that around, and 20 ounces of L.A. tap water
costs about one-twentieth of a cent. Would you pay $5 for a gallon of gas in a
pretty container if you could get a plain-wrap gallon for half a penny? When it comes to water, that's pretty much what we do.
(The Atlanta Journal Constitution, 8/5/07)

In San Francisco, the municipal water comes from inside Yosemite National
Park. It's so good the EPA doesn't require San Francisco to filter it. If you bought and drank a bottle of Evian, you could refill that bottle once a day for 10 years, 5 months, and 21 days with San Francisco tap water before that water would cost $1.35. Put another way, if the water we use at home cost what even cheap bottled water costs, our monthly water bills would run $9,000.
(Message in a Bottle, Fast Company, July 2007)

I think it might be time for me to rethink my spending/drinking habits...


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