The Crusade Against Bottled Water

There was a segment on the Factor last week about a documentary called "Tapped," which is apparently one of these plastic-is-evil-and-so-is-bottled-water deals.  They invariably show footage of some polluted stream or lake with a plastic water bottle floating on it.  The implication is clear: if you drink bottled water, you’re an evil consumer who hates the earth.

Never mind that plastic water bottles are fully recyclable.  No, the bottle-haters would have you believe that whenever someone finishes a bottle of water, they take the empty bottle to the nearest river, lake, or ocean and toss it right in.

Of course if you drink bottled water, you’re also an idiot, because half the kinds of bottled water sold are really just purified tap water!  You big dummy!  Never mind that a) such purified water actually says "purified water" right on the label, so anyone who specifically wants spring water instead (as I do) just buys spring water instead, and b) there’s not actually anything stupid about buying purified tap water because it’s cleaner than raw tap water.

But buying bottled water is just wasting money, because tap water is free!  Well, no; in most places, tap water isn’t free.  You either pay a monthly water bill, or you pay for the electricity and maintenance of a well and whatever equipment your system uses to clean and/or soften the well water.  And the water isn’t exactly the same either; people who want good clean drinking water from their tap often install for example a Brita filter which is of course not free.  Finally, the bottle-haters dishonestly use the $1+ per bottle, single-bottle price in their comparisons, not the 21-cents-per-bottle price that you pay when you buy it by the case.

And let’s not pretend that tap water is necessarily clean and pure; quite often it’s filthy and nasty.  In our case, we used to have a well, which produced water that was decent sometimes, but anytime it rained, the tap water turned brown.  So we switched to municipal water -- which was quite expensive, but not nearly as expensive as fixing or replacing the well would have been -- and now what comes out of the tap is basically pool water.  I can barely stand to brush my teeth with it because of the chlorine taste.  And whenever there’s a storm, they crank up the chlorine level even further -- since storms cause raw sewage to overflow into the rivers that supply our tap water -- to the point where I literally cannot stand to put the tap water into my mouth because of the chlorination.

Bottled water makes that a non-issue.  And there are plenty of other benefits to bottled water, independent of any purity or cost issues.  It is of course extremely convenient to be able to grab a bottle to take with you whenever you’re going out, or exercising, or taking a hike or a bike ride.  And having a few cases of bottled water in your house is good disaster preparedness, whether it’s just a small electricity/water outage, or a more serious long-term situation like a blizzard, hurricane, earthquake, EMP, etc.

If you want to drink tap water, and advocate the drinking of tap water, go right ahead; but don’t be a fascist about it.  There’s nothing stupid or evil about bottled water.

Posted by Anthony on reply

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