Friday, November 02, 2007

Water, Part II: Bottled Water Blowback

Welcome to Part II.

Who buys bottled water in the U.S.?

California is by far the biggest guzzler of bottled water, representing about 24 percent of the national market -- twice the consumption level of any other state...Nearly 70 percent of Californians drink bottled water, which nationwide is a $6 billion industry. And by the end of this year, bottled water will have moved past milk, coffee and beer to become the second most popular beverage behind soft drinks, according to the Beverage Marketing Corp.
Bottled water is a problem. Not a little one, a big one. And lately, the coolest most hip, most now, most all the rage restaurants are banning it. That's right. They are banning a commodity they formerly sold for profit. Think about it. In a capitalistic system, it takes a bit of something to motivate a company to do that.

Maybe you are already onto this new wave that refuses to be surfed by empty water bottles.

Here's the trouble with bottled water, broken down in a way that plastic water bottles may never be:
  1. The bottled water industry is under-regulated.
  2. Private companies are selling public resources for up to 5,000% profit.
  3. Much of the water is simply drawn from the tap, and minimally processed, if at all.
  4. The drain on water threatens the public management of our water supply.
  5. The bottles flood landfills with plastic waste.
  6. Chemicals leach out of the plastic and pollute the soil and water.
That's right, corporations profiting from tons of plastic, decomposing, seeping toxic substances into the soil, poisoning the water table...

Here's how the mayor of Salt Lake City describes the bottled water situation:
Bottled water "very clearly reflects the wasteful and reckless consumerism in this country," said Salt Lake City's Anderson in a conference call with reporters this month. "You really have to wonder at the utter stupidity and the irresponsibility sometimes of American consumers. These false needs are provided, and too often we just fall in line with what Madison Avenue comes up with to market these unnecessary products."
Some bottled facts:
  • Much of the bottled water sold is the same as "tap water."
  • Water costs bottlers almost nothing.
  • 4 large corporations control much of the bottled water industry.
  • Companies that pump water from ground water, streams, and the tap pay almost nothing in fees.
  • A liter of bottled water purchased in a store costs up to 5,000 times what tap water costs.
  • Water bottles feed the mass of plastic debris twice the size of Texas floating off the CA coast.
  • The health hype is just hype.

Water Bottled, originally uploaded by Ooodit.

—Synonyms 1. mismanage, muddle, spoil, ruin; foul up.
  • Bottled water is a big, bad bungle.

—By its original definition, blowback is the backwards escape of unexploded gunpowder when firing a handgun. In diplomatic terms, it is an unpredicted, negative response against a nation in regards to a diplomatic action that country has undertaken.

  • I need to drink a lot of water throughout the day. I carry water with me everywhere I go. I put a filter on my tap when I moved in, and have been filling the same two Nalgene bottles for years. But I will confess to you now, I did these things to save money, not because I had been thinking about the blowback from bottled water.

Here's the bottom line for me:
A few large private companies have marketed public resources as a private commodity that is good for one's health, with the direct consequence of causing irreparable damage to our water supply, thereby threatening our collective Health. Irony.
In other words, bottled water blowback really bites.

For more, see SBT's fine post from February, The Uncool Quaff.

spin the bottle, originally uploaded by ShazzMack.

Without water the symphony fails:

Let the music play...

(P.S. A nice post on the topic of Part I, Shrinking Supply, and current legislation at "Down with Tyrrany".)

This post is part of a series on Water:
Water Bottle, originally uploaded by Terry Bain.

NOTE: Post updated with floating plastic blob link from tireiron chef, and reusable water bottles link, inspired by Quaker Dave. /Tipping hat...

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