Wednesday, February 18, 2009

eco challenge - water bottles

Alright! It's taken me a bit of time to get around to really discussing water bottles! You know, those easy to carry, grab and go bottles of water that always cost more than a soda at your local convenience store. (And I'm not saying you should be buying soda/pop whatever you call it in your part of the world; but rather what IS up with bottled water costing more than soda? I mean, it's uh, water... craziness.) Anyway, I've hated bottled water for a while now. It's just SUCH a waste. You know, I'm not even sure if the convenience store bottled water is as much of a waste (since you know every once in a while you need a water, and tada, it's easy to get!) but moreso, it's all those bulk packages of bottled water people buy for their homes. Oh, I have a friend that does this. Every week, she'll buy like a crate load of these things, and I cringe as she puts them in the refrigerator. OR or, you know, when people buy the short stubby bottles of water. Not even the regular size. "Hey oh yeah, now I have to drink twice as many to get the water I need, but they're so much easier to carry, cause I'm buying them by the freakin' boat load!" Oh, don't get me started.

Ever heard of a water filter, friend? Oh yes, it's so very easy. They make them in pitchers, so your water can always be cold in the fridge. And they make them to snap onto your water faucet, for quick access. I have one at home, and it's great! In fact, I secretly don't think you even need to replace the filter as often as they suggest. I haven't replaced mine in FO'ever, and you know, it still tastes so much better than straight from the tap water! Seriously!

"Ugh, it's so much work to fill up the pitcher when it gets empty." Oh, is it? As much work as lugging those bottled water bulk packages from Walmart, is it? (Cause really, not only are you buying bulk bottled water, but you're buying it from Walmart. Are you TRYING to kill me here?) Whew... whew. Slow down, Nathan. You're getting all worked up. Ha ha!

Did you know:

+ Americans send about 38 billion water bottles a year to landfills.

+ It takes 1.5 million barrels of oil to make those bottles, making the environmental impact of plastic bottle waste truly staggering.

+ Plastic water bottles can take 1,000 years to biodegrade.

+ Nine out of 10 water bottles end up as garbage or litter, and that means 30 million per day. A small percentage actually end up going into recycling bins.

Ok. So I have a confession to make. At work we get bottled water (single serving) as payment for one of the websites we designed a while back. Tit for tat, I suppose. And I drink a lot of hot tea. SO (oh, this is painful to admit) we don't have a filter at work on the faucet, our water is pretty nasty tasting, so I'll just use the bottled water to heat up in my mug for tea each day. Usually, two to three bottles. Ugh. And everytime I do it, I cringe. Whew. I feel so much better! Three thousand Hail Mary's and I'll be fine. (But, these bottles DO end up going into the recycling container each and every time. I'm not THAT evil. No, really, I'm not.)

BUT, here's the thing. We've ran out of water (long story, we have another office, they took it all, supposedly "not knowing" we didn't have anymore; so now we have to wait for another shipment.) I tried the faucet water in my tea yesterday, and about gagged. Gah! So I was going to go out and buy a big bottle of water from the store, a jug; and use that. But then at home last night, a light blinked on in my head! (At first I thought it meant I had a brain tumor and should run and call the doctor! Then I realized it was just an idea! Yay!) I have this big metal thermos that I've had for ages, and literally have never used. I always end up using thermos's for coffee and such, and they always end up smelling nasty after a while inside (and I wash them out, I swear!?!) BUT, what if each morning I fill up the thermos with filtered tap water from my home, and bring it to work to use in my tea. No more bottled water waste at work for me, and I still get my filtered water! Yes!

So, this is one of my new eco challenges for 2009! As you can see from the (ghastly) pic above, it's from a Brita ad campaign discussing how much oil (and don't we all have issues with oil in the US right now!) is used to make bottled water. And to buy a faucet filter (or pitcher) for your home instead. I used to have a pitcher, also. But I find the filter a much easier solution. Yes, the refill filters are a bit pricey, but like I said, I think they last a lot longer than they want you to believe. Just test it out! So, this year, how about you do a bottled water challenge yourself? They even make these great aluminum bottles that you can buy and refill with water (and they're cool looking, too!) Hip, fashionable, and environment saving! You go, girl! And boy!

Are you a bottled water waster? Is it time for a change? (Uh, if the first answer is yes, then the second answer is YES!) Will you give it a try? Are you feeling bottled water guilt? Tell us your story! You'll feel better, I promise!

(You can find these adorable aluminum water bottles at Macy's! For a mere $9.99! How much money will you be saving instead of buying all those plastic water bottles every week! And making Mother Earth happy, too!)


Here's an interesting article on the ups and downs of bottled water:

"Message in a Bottle: Despite the Hype, Bottled Water is Neither CLEANER nor GREENER Than Tap Water
By Brian Howard

“You drink tap water? Are you crazy?” asks a 21-year-old radio producer from the Chicago area. “I only drink bottled water.” In a trendy nightclub in New York City, the bartender tells guests they can only be served bottled water, which costs $5 for each tiny half-pint container. One outraged clubber is stopped by the restroom attendant as she tries to refill the bottle from the tap. “You can’t do that,” says the attendant. “New York’s tap water isn’t safe.”

Whether a consumer is shopping in a supermarket or a health food store, working out in a fitness center, eating in a restaurant or grabbing some quick refreshment on the go, he or she will likely be tempted to buy bottled water. The product comes in an ever-growing variety of sizes and shapes, including one bottle that looks like a drop of water with a golden cap. Some fine hotels now offer the services of “water sommeliers” to advise diners on which water to drink with different courses.

A widening spectrum of bottled water types are crowding the market, including spring, mineral, purified, distilled, carbonated, oxygenated, caffeinated and vitamin-enriched, as well as flavors, such as lemon or strawberry, and specific brands aimed at children. Bottled water bars have sprung up in the hipper districts, from Paris to Los Angeles.

The message is clear: Bottled water is “good” water, as opposed to that nasty, unsafe stuff that comes out of the tap. But in most cases tap water adheres to stricter purity standards than bottled water, whose source—far from a mountain spring—can be wells underneath industrial facilities. Indeed, 40 percent of bottled water began life as, well, tap water.

A 2001 World Wildlife Fund (WWF) study confirmed the widespread belief that consumers associate bottled water with social status and healthy living. Their perceptions trump their objectivity, because even some people who claim to have switched to bottled water “for the taste” can’t tell the difference: When Good Morning America conducted a taste test of its studio audience, New York City tap water was chosen as the heavy favorite over the oxygenated water 02, Poland Spring and Evian. Many of the “facts” that bottled water drinkers swear by are erroneous. Rachele Kuzma, a Rutgers student, says she drinks bottled water at school because “it’s healthier” and “doesn’t have fluoride,” although much of it does have fluoride.

Bottled water is so ubiquitous that people can hardly ask for water anywhere without being handed a bottle. But what is the cost to society and the environment?"

Go here to read the rest!


Karin said...

That photo is very reminds me of a horror 'the ring' or something...eek! Anyways, I agree about the water bottle situation...but those aluminum bottles worry me. Is the inside aluminum like the outside, or is it possibly stainless steel? Aluminum is not good for us, so I am cautious to drink out of an aluminum bottle or can. I think there is always a possibility of a substance leaching into the water...hence the problem with the nalgene bottles.

Nathan Aaron said...

Wow, Karin! I didn't know this. News I can use. I did some searching, and it appears that SIGGS uses an epoxy resin made from plant based material to very thinly coat the interior of their aluminum bottles. But now you have me all worried, so I'd go with a stainless steel bottle. (At least until I researched it further, and felt better about it.) WHY don't they just make them out of stainless steel and be done with it... hmm. Now I'll never be able to drink a soda from a can again?

Anonymous said...

Sound like you have an issue with your tap water, that is why you need to use bottled water to make your tea.

Its a simple case of taste - you prefer the taste of bottled water.

Carrying around a Sigg or another bottle is not an option if you are getting crappy tasting tap water

Nathan Aaron said...

The solution though is to fill my SIGG or other reusable bottle with my faucet filtered tap water, which I have at home (and have started bringing to work. Works great!)

Laura said...

I completely agree with everything you're saying (I can't believe so much oil goes into making bottles for something that comes out of our tap! We are lucky to even have drinkable water.) but I avoid aluminum water bottles, and a lot of stainless steel bottles (like the SIGG ones) are still lined with some kind of plastic. Albeit a very miniscule amount of plastic, but it still has all those nasty toxins that are leached out into our system when we drink it. Even with all of the environmental pluses with using reusable water bottles, I don't drink out of plastic anything because the chemicals that are put in plastic are leached into our system and this happens especially when it heats up sitting in our cars or in the trucks being shipped. And the reason I say that I avoid aluminum is because it has been tied to Alzheimer's. I would recommend the "Klean Kanteen" brand of stainless steel water bottles which aren't lined with any plastic or anything!

Megan Cathey said...

I completely agree. I see people drink from bottles of water at home! Why?! I push the Brita pitcher with everyone that will listen. We have one at home that gets used a LOT and I keep one at work and use a glass to drink it. Not only is bottled water using fossil fuels unnecessarily and a complete drain on the environment in countless ways, but it costs so much more!!! Maybe one good thing that will come out of the recession is that people will stop wasting so much.

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