Mom 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?