banning bottled water
The first shot has been fired across the bow of the bottled water industry. Ann Arbor, Michigan, has banned the sale of bottled water at municipally-sponsored events. While the water bottling industry is getting riled up about this, I applaud Ann Arbor’s initiative, and hope that it cascades through to other municipalities, and even states and provinces.
Why am I so anti-bottled water? It has nothing to do with the quality of the water (although it is the subject of much debate and many tests). The simple fact is that by bottling and distributing water, you are using plastic, cardboard, and energy to package and distribute a commodity that already has an unparalleled distribution infrastructure already in place; your municipal water supply system. If you don’t think tap water is clean enough for you to drink (for whatever reason), add a point-of-use filter. Even with purchasing a $40 point-of-use filter and a $20 reusable stainless steel water bottle, they will pay for themselves after roughly 150L of water, and generate nothing for either the landfill or recycling.
I have had the same reusable plastic water bottle for the past 5 years, and on average fill it once a day. That means I’ve put over 1700L through this bottle, and not generated 3400 single-use water bottles (plus their associated packaging) for the landfill or recycling.
If your argument in favour of bottled water revolves around convenience, I’m not listening. Pandering to convenience is what got us into this consumption nightmare we find ourselves in, and it does not take into account the inconvenience of future climate change or resource scarcity. Honestly, would it really be any less convenient to purchase a few water bottles and fill them at home? Keep some in the fridge, take a couple to work, have a few spare to allow for washing, and you’ve got your very own bottled water factory. The only difference is that you do the filling, but at a fraction of the price, and a fraction of the energy waste.
As for those that will quibble that the quality of bottled water is superior to municipal tap water, I would suggest that you focus on reducing the amount of impurities you ingest or expose yourself to elsewhere first, such as pesticides on your produce, poisonous or toxic chemicals in your cleaning supplies, exposure to automotive and industrial pollution, poor indoor air quality, and chemically-preserved packaged foods. Chosing the level of total dissolved solids in your bottled water isn’t going to do squat for your health by itself.