from Deanna Lee Birkholm

June 29, 2009

Our Love Affair with Bottled Water

* Various excerpts from this article appeared in the May 2009 issue of SKY magazine, by Jennifer Vogel.

"Once upon a time, 30 years ago, people in America drank water from the tap. Fountains were prevalent on downtown streets, in school hallways and parks, and sipping from them wasn't considered the equivalent of licking a dog."

Then along came Evian, the French bubbly water usually served in overpriced restaurants - some of us saved the green glass bottles for either status symbols or cool vases for the window sills.

A decade later, (Now 40 years ago) American sales of Perrier reached 300 million bottles. Some reports list 1981 as the latest 'hot' year.

I don't claim to be a math star (what was that about quadratic equations?), but even at a buck a bottle, someone made a lot of money from......someone else's water.

Some communities had local economies which were so bad that they sold out their water rights only to discover they had to purchase water back just to meet the requirements to furnish water to their own residents. These companies, who are draining out watersheds, are paying nothing - or next to nothing - for the water itself.

And it gets worse.

As the water is "mined" the whole water table drops becoming shallower and less available to other things which depend on that disappearing water.

I've talked about this before, and the late Jim C. Chapralis was very active in trying to stop the wholesale (sorry pun intended) sale of public water. Since 2004, 23 BILLION bottles of water, excluding Wal-Mart who does not release their numbers, of still, sparkling, flavored and non-flavored bottled water have been sold, according to the Nielsen Company. Add to that, regardless of some new shaped bottles which supposedly use less plastic, the petroleum used to manufacture and ship this product which adds tens of billions to our over burdened landfills every year. An illustration from the Delta Sky magazine said: "Try and imagine every water bottle a quarter filled with oil, just to get a full picture."

Testing has been done by every testing company in the universe - almost all trying to prove the bottled water was in some way better. It isn't. There simply is no substantial difference in flavor or quality over the tap water from your home.

I don't ask much of you - but before you pick up one more bottle of water for any reason, please think what you are doing. Do I absolutely have to have bottled water available? Take the last bottle out of your refrigerator, and after you have drunk it, refill it out of the tap and put it back in the frig. The next time, use that one.

Unfortunately this really is serious stuff - and we are doing next to nothing about it.

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