It’s that time of year again. This Friday, March 22nd is WORLD WATER DAY!
To celebrate, I will post something about water here everyday until World Water Day 2013 (only 3 more days…shoulda started earlier).
Today’s topic is: BOTTLE versus TAP!
Now, as someone that believes in NOT harming the environment and champions for universal access to safe drinking water, I don’t have to tell you that I’m pro TAP. I’m not going to pretend that the below is not biased, but they are in-fact, facts. So, I’ll report. You decide.
FACT 1: TAP water is safer than bottled water. BOTTLED water is not actually water in the eyes of the law. It is a consumer beverage, like orange juice, or coke. Imagine is all the Fanta production lines had to be tested for bacteria and fecal matter (fancy word for poop) in the morning, before noon, around noon, afternoon, evening, night, late night and early morning. The costs would be prohibitive. So beverages, including bottled water are only tested for things that could make us sick a few times a month, at best. Municipal water supplies are tested constantly day and night, continuously being optimized for safety, quality and cost.
As a side note: 90% of bottled water in Sri Lanka fails coliform tests (another fancy word for poop).
FACT 2: Ever notice that plasticy taste in your bottled water? Maybe not since we’re all so used to it nowadays. You know what it is? It’s plastic. It’s easier to notice when the water is warm, and gets worse if it’s been sitting in the sun for a while because the sun’s energy can break down components of plastic which leak into the water. A bottle that was left in the car for a day or two is a good example. You are drinking plastic. Organic compounds like plastic, dioxins (burned plastics) and pesticides (DDT etc) are known to cause cancer, birth defects and organ damage.
FACT 3: Bottled water generally costs 2000 to 10,000 times more than tap water. And it’s no surprise. By some estimates, it takes 2000 to 3000 times more energy to get a gallon of water bottled to your mouth. And it takes about 3 oz of oil to make, ship, fill and ship again a 12 oz bottle of water. That’s a quarter of the bottle. Imagine the next time you buy a bottle of water, that the amount of oil it took to get that to you would fill the bottom 1/4 of that bottle. Unbelievable.
FACT 4: But the biggest difference between bottled and tap water is…there is none, sometimes. Up to a quarter of bottled water is taken from municipal supplies (fancy word for tap water). I’ll admit, lots of bottled water comes from wells and aquifers. But wait a minute. That’s where most municipal water plants get their water too, wells and aquifers. And as mentioned before, municipal water is held to a higher standard and tested much more frequently.
Here is a video by TheCocaColaCompany about Dasani Bottled water: http://youtu.be/9EnxwFCe56I
If you don’t have 2 minutes to watch it, here are the Cliff Notes. First, and foremost, notice that it is labeled “filtered and purified water.” NOT natural or spring water. Dead giveaway that this is just ordinary tap water. At 0:53, they say they filter out “impurities such as Chlorine.” Another dead giveaway that they are just using safe, chlorinated tap water. Most of the treatment has been done for them already. Then, they add some flavorings, package it in toxic plastic and ship it hundreds and thousands of miles around the country to your local supermarket. Keep in mind that just the gas for driving there to pick up that 24 pack of Dasani would cost hundreds of times more than the same volume of tap water.
Another side note: Most bottled water in Sri Lanka is sourced from Bored and Shallow Wells. This is also where most rural inhabitants get their water, and many water treatment plants as well.
Let’s say gas prices are US$3.50 per gallon. Would you pay 2000 times that (US$7000 per gallon) for crude oil for your car? That’s essentially what you are doing with every bottle of water you buy. Everything has its time and place, including polymerous containers of slightly treated H2O. Replacing affordable, safe, tapped water is not one of them.