Bottled Water

With Earth Day approaching on April 22, I thought I’d take some time to celebrate it by grousing to the world about why bottled water gets on my last nerve.

As you might imagine, my first objection is one of environmental impact. All those bottles—and I cringe to think how many are discarded without being recycled.

(One objection I often hear about recycling is that people don’t want to take the time to clean out a container that contains something messy or sticky. By that definition water bottles are the easiest thing to recycle because you don’t need to rinse them!)

Even if every bottle gets recycled, there’s still the issue of the manufacturing of them and the resources it takes to fashion them into new bottles. I realize recycling isn’t flawless; that’s why the first two items in the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra are the most important.

Along that line, it’s best to just get a good quality reusable bottle and fill it up at home. Here’s the big reveal: Bottled water isn’t any better than just drinking out of your kitchen tap (or probably a garden hose, for that matter).

Yes, quality of drinking water is important. But if you get a filter on your faucet or one in a pitcher, then you’re ahead of the game—this will take your water quality above and beyond that of most purchased waters.

The thing I find most fascinating is that somebody out there found a way to sell people ordinary water. With the exception of camping or emergencies, this is something you already have. So it is with grudging admiration that I look to the genius marketers who found a way to make this work.

Remember the expression about selling ice to Eskimos? That’s exactly what’s going on here. Don’t be sucked in. Two or three decades ago you probably would have laughed at the idea of buying bottled water but now everybody is doing it (and some others are making a lot of money).

The other thing that irritates me is the prevalence of people drinking water all the time, in every situation. Yes, staying well hydrated is important but I probably drink more water than almost anyone I know, yet I don’t carry a bottle around. (Hint—I don’t do soft drinks so when I go somewhere to eat I order water.)

Even in an exercise class I find it weird that someone can’t go an hour without hitting the bottle. In my dance classes growing up, no drinks were ever allowed in the studio, and this was normal everywhere. You also didn’t bring drinks to college classes. Now you find people slurping away in church!

Lay off the pop and switch to water in restaurants (the kind in a glass, not a bottle). Remember that much of the bottled water is produced by soft drink companies so I’d say it’s a safe bet that your health is not their first priority. If it were, then they wouldn’t be distributing health-damaging sugary beverages in the first place.

As an aside, if you’re going to consume alcohol—responsibly—when you go out, drink beer on tap rather than anything from a bottle or can, as this poses the same kinds of recycling issues as bottled water.

This Earth Day, do yourself a favor and ditch the bottle. Arm yourself with a filter and a reusable bottle for those just-in-case situations. Stop going along with this crazy idea of buying something you already have, just because it’s all fancied up in a nice little package.