Mom rants about bottled waterMom rants about bottled water

An article by Peter Leo in this morning’s Post Gazette discusses a new ad campaign by Fiji bottled water that apparently has folks in Cleveland upset. Fiji ran a full-page ad in several national magazines that reads, “The label says Fiji because it’s not bottled in Cleveland.” This prompted the Cleveland Water Department to run tests comparing Fiji to Cleveland city tap water and they found-surprise! that Fiji has much higher levels of lead and other contaminants and you shouldn’t even let your pets drink it.

I have long been opposed to the whole bottled water craze, making an exception a few years ago for Water Joe, bottled, caffeinated water. If I am in a situation where I must buy a drink I will choose a soft drink or anything other than what I can get at home for free from the faucet. Or at least I did until the high-fructose corn syrup debate scared me away from virtually all soft drinks. Now I just look for a water fountain or stick to coffee. Perhaps I should reconsider Water Joe but it’s not readily available on the east coast.

A while back I was listening to Lynn Cullen, my favorite liberal talk show host, interview a man in Pittsburgh who has made a hobby of picking up garbage from city neighborhoods. She asked him what the largest source of litter seemed to be and he replied that hands down it had become plastic water bottles. And here I was, silly me, thinking that drinkers of bottled water had concern for their health that would naturally translate into concern for the environment.

And in that vein, I suppose I have never thought deeply of the environmental cost of so many people drinking bottled water, but this morning’s article details some of them. There are the bottles themselves, which are made of PET, a form of plastic made from oil. Can we afford to use a non-renewable resource this way? And even worse, there’s the cost of transporting water, which is heavy. Shipping water from Fiji, 8,000 miles from New York, requires burning huge quantities of fossil fuels.

I think most of us are acquainted with studies like Cleveland’s, comparing our own city’s tap water to several bottled brands, and know that tap water usually compares favorably in terms of fewer contaminants and often even better flavor. So what we are paying for is the convenience of the bottles. Remember a few years ago when refillable water bottles were sold almost everywhere? I found at least 10 of them when I was emptying my kitchen last weekend. What happened to actually using them?


Have you seen the funny-looking Platypus water “bottles” that your son and I use? They consume very little space when empty or half-full, eliminating the convenience advantage of throwaway bottles.

We must have used ours hundreds of times now, Poland Spring be dammed.

Those things are brilliant! And very reasonably priced, too. The trouble is that you have to think ahead to fill them and chill them if you want cold water, something that most folks seem unwilling or unable to do.

If people put the $1-3/day that they are spending on water in a Mason jar on their dresser tops and took their own water I’m sure they would be very surprised at how quickly the savings mounted up.

Good for you! I’m glad someone has finally called the emperor on his lack of clothing. Those discarded plastic water bottles are everywhere. My dogs like them as playthings but, really, how many toys does a dog need?

Thanks for visiting our blog and commenting, YT! I went to yours and really like it; the blogosphere needs more mothers, but got frustrated trying to leave a comment of my own. I think you can adjust your settings so more readers can leave comments, if you want to.

sorry. fixed.

Yes, Rebecca, I am one of those weird people who actually re-use water bottles until they fall apart. I buy the kind with large enough mouths so that I can get a bottle brush into them for washing. They can last for a couple of years that way! And so I have the convenience of a water bottle without the waste.

My old office was on the bottle method, and my new office is on the cooler method. I used to feel guilty every time I got a new water, but still, I couldn’t bring myself to refill the used bottles, because they just felt like trash. Now that I don’t have a choice, I love the cooler system. I have a Nalgene bottle that I refill once or twice a day, and I pour from there into a cup on my desk (that way my Nalgene never gets dirty).

Believe it or not, though, I see coworkers buying bottled water from the vending machine. Horror of horrors!

Actually, Gerda, you may want to re-think what you’re doing and buy actual re-usable water bottles. I read an article recently about the dangers of re-using articles made from that PET stuff. Apparently it can begin to degrade and slough off dangerous chemical compounds the longer you use it and wash it. My mother does that too, and she puts her bottles through the dishwasher, which is especially bad. I mean, when you say the bottles eventually “fall apart”, where do the bits go? That means they are getting thinner and thinner as they go into what you and your kids are drinking out of them.

But kudos to you for not buying bottle after bottle!

I heard a report on NPR (too much radio, I was living alone) about dangerous plastics – they said the plastics in a Nalgene bottle make you fat!!! I kid you not. This world is very, very strange.

I am planning, eventually, to bury myself in dirt and consume nothing.

Nalgene clearly doesn’t make everyone fat; Leland and Nathan don’t weigh but about 100 pounds apiece.

I vote for going back to metal canteens. I always thought they were very cool when I was a youngster. And hasn’t the aluminum/Alzheimer’s disease connection been disproved?

or hip flasks. always healthy. and a great accessory on a svelte gentleman. or a woman with broad shoulders.

Ha! A woman’s shoulders would really have to be broad to offset the bulge a hip flask would leave. I know my ass couldn’t take the extra inches!

Thanks for the tip, Rebecca. I’ll look for re-usable bottles. I can see that I will have to be asking you before I purchase anything that gets consumed through my mouth. ;)
I do like the flask idea, though. I’ll be looking for a good seal skin :) (Sorry to all animal lovers.)

Like I have any room to talk over here with my diet of ice cream and coffee, Gerda, I’m a great role model…

One issue with your post:

The article nowhere states that Fiji is unsafe for dogs – in fact, it says “It wasn’t enough to make Fiji unsafe to drink…”

Well, sure, T-dawg, I was exaggerating to make a point, but Fiji certainly isn’t any HEALTHIER than tap water, and in no way does its being “artesian” justify shipping it all that way.

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