Don’t drink bottled water, you may get E.coli, while some kid’s urine causes a public water facility to dump all storage, oh, and Cleveland rocks!

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So are we really surprised to hear issues with bottled water?  Well, we should be shocked the E.coli contamination in Pennsylvania was actually found before people got sick!  Due to lack of regulation on bottled water, many “less than perfect” batches are sold to millions every day.  Of course the company is saying that the lab that tested the water made an error while testing.  Just to clarify, E.coli bacteria lives in human and animal waste, and is fatal to babies, and the elderly.  Labs are pretty much guarenteed to be E.coli free.  Meanwhile in public municipality world, the city of Portland dumped 38 million gallons of treated drinking water because some dumb high school kid thought it would be funny to pee in it.  Many think this was wasteful, but if it didn’t happen, I wouldn’t be able to use it as an example.  Do you think a bottled water company, who doesn’t need to answer to any government authority, would waste product like that? Definitely not.

Now for a superhero public WTP story with all the makings of a triumphant midwest legend: In 2006 Fiji took a swing at Cleveland tap water saying “The label says Fiji because it’s not bottled in Cleveland”.  Well Cleveland did some testing, and it found that the bottled water contained 6.3 micrograms of arsenic per liter; the city’s tap water was arsenic free. Fiji apologized, and it was a “W” for water utility directors, and those in Cleveland where “W’s” are rare (it’s Lebron Jame’s fault, right?).  Seriously…do we need more reasons to not drink bottled water? Let’s list them anyway:

First, the quality is not better:

  • In the United States, 24 percent of bottled water sold is either Pepsi’s Aquafina (13 percent of the market) or Coke’s Dasani (11 percent of the market). Both brands are bottled, purified municipal water3.
  • If you don’t like the taste of your tap water, try a filtered water pitcher like Brita.
  • In the U.S., public water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which requires multiple daily tests for bacteria and makes results available to the public. The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates bottled water, only requires weekly testing and does not share its findings with the EPA or the public7.

Do we need more reasons?? Well here you go:

  • Making bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year1. And that’s not even including the oil used for transportation.
  • The energy we waste using bottled water would be enough to power 190,000 homes for a year2.
  • In 2006, the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled 38.3
  • Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. However, the U.S.’s recycling rate for plastic is only 23 percent, which means 38 billion water bottles – more than $1 billion worth of plastic – are wasted each year3.
  • The recommended eight glasses of water a day, at U.S. tap rates equals about $.49 per year; that same amount of bottled water is about $1,400.
  • Antimony, which is found in PET plastic bottles, in small doses can cause dizziness and depression; in larger doses it can cause nausea, vomiting and death.8

Save Money and The Environment:

  • One water pitcher filter can effectively replace as much as 300 standard 16.9-ounce bottles. So you can get great-tasting water without so much waste.
  • The average water pitcher filters 240 gallons of water a year for about 19 cents a day4. Put in perspective, to get the same amount of water from bottled water would require 1,818 16.9-ounce water bottles a year5 – at an average cost of a dollar a bottle, that’s $4.98 a day6.
  • For about $10 each, you can purchase a 16-ounce or 32-ounce Nalgene bottle, saving you hundreds of dollars a year on bottled water.
  • Tip: Get a water bottle!!!  One Nalgene bottle can last for decades (literally I’ve had the same one for 15 years), making it easy to stop buying bottled water when you’re out

  1. Pacific Institute. “Fact Sheet: Bottled Water and Energy – Getting to 17 Million Barrels.” December 2007.
  2. “Not Disposable Anymore.” P.O.V.’s Borders. 2004. PBS.
  3. Fishman, Charles. “Message in a Bottle.” Fast Company Magazine July 2007: 110.
  4. This cost assumes the purchase of a $25 pitcher (one filter included), plus 5 replacement filters at $9 each, for a total yearly cost of $70, or $0.19 cents a day.
  5. Each filter produces 40 gallons of water and the average owner uses 6 filters in a year, to produce 240 gallons, or 30,720 ounces, of fresh-filtered water. 30,720 ounces is equivalent to the water found in 1,818 16.9-ounce water bottles.
  6. Purchasing 1,818 16.9-ounce water bottles at the cost of $1 each costs $1,818. Over the course of a year, that’s $4.98 a day.
  7. Burros, Marian. “Fighting the Tide, a Few Restaurants Tilt to Tap Water.” The New York Times [New York City, NY] 30 May 2007: Section F, Page 1.
  8. Shotyk, William. “Toxic risk in bottled water?” Royal Society of Chemistry. September 2006.
  9. Banthebottle.com
  10. Processing magazine
  11. http://www.governing.com/topics/energy-env/gov-cities-tout-municipal-tap-water-as-better-than-bottled.html

http://www.processingmagazine.com/articles/127219-pennsylvania-bottling-company-recalls-water-contaminated-with-e-coli