Friday, May 2, 2008

Put down the bottle and turn on the tap

There is increasing awareness from all quarters- from environmental groups, to top chefs like Alice Waters that we've all been sold a bill of goods when it comes to bottled water. Be it fancy-shamcy or your typical plastic Evian; bottled water ain't all that it is cracked up to be.

Americans send about 38 billion water bottles a year to landfills! Considering the 1.5 million barrels of oil needed to make those bottles, the environmental impact of plastic bottle waste is truly staggering.

And what is in those bottles? Inside that plastic shiny marketing label is H20, same 'ole H2o that comes out of your tap.

In fact often bottled water from companies like Pepsi Co. is nothing but filtered tap water.

PepsiCo Inc. is the latest company to offer some clarity about the source of its top-selling bottled water as it announced on Friday it would change the label on Aquafina water bottles to spell out that the drink comes from the same source as tap water.

Last month alone, a barrage of news hit the industry: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom banned city-funded purchases of bottled water; New York City launched an ad campaign called “Get Your Fill” to promote the benefits of tap water; and the U.S. Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution to bring attention to the importance of public water systems and the negative impact of bottled water.
Before you plunk down your money for some funky label remember you can get the same damn thing from buying a water pitcher for the fridge with a filter inside-- Or adding a filter to your tap.

Even recycling is not enough. Why focus on recycling when it makes more sense not to make so much of the damn things in the first place?

Why is this a big deal?

In 2006, Americans spent $15 billion on bottled water and an estimated $16 billion in 2007.
  • The bottles are made out of plastic, a petroleum product

  • The bottles are then travel thousands of miles on ships or trucks to your local stores and restaurants, using more oil for the entire trip

  • AND Once it has been drunk, 90% of the bottles end up in a landfill

Alice waters at her world famous restaurant Chez Panisse in Berkeley kicked the bottled water habit in March of last year.
"We just decided this was something we had to do," said Mike Kossa-Rienzi, general manager of Chez Panisse, where owner Alice Waters has pioneered the eat local, eat fresh concept. "It just makes sense to us to not have to use all the energy and resources to bottle water in Italy and then truck it to our restaurant and then after that deal with the recycling of it."
In fact, many restaurants are installing their own carbonation units so that they can also turn tasty local tap water into sparkling water and get rid of the bubbly bottled stuff too.

When I was in NYC recently most of the very wonderful restaurants we went to offered tap water instead of pushing the fancy bottled stuff.

What can you do at home and about town?

Out and About?
  • Drink bottled water as little as possible.

  • At work, drink from the fountain

  • If you're out being sporty, fill a reusable bottle (or 3).

  • And if you're somewhere without your trusty reusable bottled and need to buy a bottle of water, make sure you recycle.
Your choices at home to have your own, best quality, water? (from

  • Buy a carafe or water pitcher for fridge that has a filter in the spout. Keep a full carafe in the fridge for pure, cold water all the time. At chez gator I use Brita.

  • Faucet Mounted Filters: you can buy many filters that mount on standard faucets and they are designed to filter out lindane / atrazine, mercury, asbestos, organics, MTBE, cysts and 0.5-1 micron particles including lead, and chlorine. Easy to buy- they are even on

  • Install a more serious unit under your sink. This is for hard core people who want to do some construction. But after install these units are very effective.
So break out that re-usable bottle, get your filter on, and join me in an icy cold one.