Sunday, July 22, 2007

On Second Thought, Tap Water Is Just Fine

I read a thoughtful and eye-opening article about the bottled water industry in the latest issue of Fast Company.

Written by Charles Fishman, it essentially raises the following questions (taken from the article), once you understand the resources needed to deliver the water:
1)Does the value to me equal the 99 cents I'm about to spend?
2)Does the value equal the impact I'm about to leave behind?

Fishman points out some interesting facts, including:
-24% of the bottled water we buy is tap water repackaged by Coke and Pepsi
-More than half the people in Fiji don't have reliable drinking water
-We pitch 38 billion water bottles into landfills a year
-Tap water is impressively safe in the U.S.!
-Our consumption of bottled water is expected to surpass soda
-The environmental costs of producing bottled water: energy consumed through transportation/shipping, filtration processes, etc.

Princeton University professor Peter Singer puts it in perspective, saying:
"Where the drinking water is safe, bottled water is simply a superfluous luxury that we should do without....We're completely thoughtless about handing out $1 for this bottle of water, when there are virtually identical alternatives for free. It's a level of affluence that we just take for granted."

Whole Foods' CEO John Mackey believes purchasing bottled water is a choice (which it clearly is) for consumers to make. It's a choice that I'll have to think more about from now on.

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