Friday, July 27, 2007

The Ethics of Bottled Water

Fact: 2.6 billion cases of bottled water were sold in the United States in 2006.

Is it ethical to drink bottled water? This is the question I was pondering today after I read this story:

Aquafina labels to spell out source - tap water

The story is about how there is a growing disapproval about drinking bottled water based on several reasons. From what I can tell, these are the ethical arguments against drinking bottled water:

1. Water, an essential human need shouldn't be controlled by corporate interests.
2. Bottled water is bad for the environment: the bottled water industry adds plastic to landfills and uses too much energy by producing and shipping bottles across the world.
3. The bottled water industry causes people to lose trust/faith in the public water systems while much of the world doesn't even have access to clean drinking water.

I admit that I occasionally drink bottled water, usually for health reasons (I don't want to drink a sugar-laden soft drink). Usually when I have made a conscious choice to drink bottled water I've actually felt proud of myself . How blind I was! Thus it was a bit of a paradigm shift to realize that drinking bottled water is actually unethical for many people. So will reading this article cause to rethink drinking bottled water? Quite possibly. Will I start drinking more tap water? Oh, mama, probably not. Our tap water tastes like cholorine concentrate. I grew up in the country where well water was heavily laden with iron and guaranteed to put hair on one's chest. I guess the solution is a filter? Anyway, I was perfect happy drinking bottled water before but now I will always feel a little bit of guilt. How about you? Also, were you surprised that Aquafina water comes from the tap?

May Light increase!


Lee said...

I've been thinking a lot about this issue lately as well. I don't buy a lot of bottled water. But we do have a water cooler at home and we buy water in refillable jugs for that. So while there is an impact to create the jugs, at least they have more than one use. But - we have perfectly good tap water at home - and it's probably healthier for me based on studies about the bacteria in water coolers/jugs. My issue is the taste! Is this just something to get used to or is there something I can do to tap water (boiling it?) to make it more palatable? I'll google that. When I'm out and about on a hot day, if I've forgotten my own water bottle, I may still reach for bottled water at 7-11 - if I'm going to buy plastic anyway - wouldn't water be better than sugar laden soda?

Mark said...

Hi Lee, your thinking reflects my own. Bottled water is better then pop, but tap water is best of all. Except in taste! I suppose there are filtration products that could make things better, they're just not as convenient!

Jobina said...

I LOVE tap water! Bottled water is so tasteless. I can't believe how crazy it's gotten too. Most people just don't think about the consequences and what all those bottles do to our environment. I'm sure only a small amount are recycled.