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PSA: Fill your own damn water bottle. - Elf M. Sternberg
PSA: Fill your own damn water bottle.
This afternoon I watched as a vendor came through our office and restocked our company coolers with a variety of sugared waters-- as well as ordinary bottles of water. It surprises me that we buy bottled water when we also have a filtered tap in the kitchen, and it surprises me even more when I realized that each liter bottle costs upwards of a dollar each to purchase, and that's before calculating in the delivery costs that come after production.

Compare that $1 a liter to the $0.0011 per liter for water from the tap. For those of us living in Seattle, there's absolutely no excuse for bottled water: the water from the tap is likely to be cleaner.

Of every penny above that 0.1¢ perhaps a quarter of it goes to the profit of the bottler. The rest is consumed in two ways: the menial efforts of others, and in oil. The bottle is made of petrochemicals, and it costs truck time to transport the bottles from the bottler to the point of purchase. Given that most Western countries have evolved this incredibly energy-efficient mechanism for delivering water to every non-rural home and office, there is almost no excuse for buying bottled water. If you want to save gas and oil, reduce pollution, and save the planet, here's a cheap, easy and probably better-for-you step: fill your own water bottle from the tap.

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9 comments or Leave a comment
woggie From: woggie Date: April 11th, 2006 12:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm glad your water is cleaner. In our corner of the world it's iffy. And we aren't that far from you.

Perhaps when the Clearwater Water Treatment plant comes in it will be different.
memegarden From: memegarden Date: April 11th, 2006 12:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I was recently informed that the entire world population could be brought clean water for what the first world spends on bottled water.
acelightning From: acelightning Date: April 11th, 2006 01:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Blame it on marketing. There are no ads for tap water, after all. And people are given the impression that bottled water either comes from some exotic, untouched, hidden spring that contains magical health-giving minerals, or that it's been purified to where there's nothing in it but hydrogen and oxygen, and then various minerals, vitamins, and other wondrous things are added back in precisely the perfect proportions. (And many people assume that any bottled water is spring water.)

I know that in a lot of places in the US, the tap water may be perfectly safe to drink, but it doesn't taste particularly great; my own tap water tends to be rather heavily chlorinated, which makes it okay for cooking (the chlorine boils off), but somewhat unpleasant to drink straight from the tap. And not everybody owns, or uses, a filter. You're lucky that there's a filter in the kitchen at your workplace - again, not everyone has that option available. If the only drinking water a person can get at their workplace comes straight from the municipal water supply, I can see some justification for paying $1.00 or more for eight to twelve ounces of better-tasting (and chilled) water. But I probably wouldn't bother.

lisakit From: lisakit Date: April 11th, 2006 03:50 am (UTC) (Link)
We have good tap water in Woodinville, and a fridge spigot with a filter. However, when I lived in Everett I had to put up with running the water for awhile to get the rust out before trying to use any as potable. And my folks who live east of Portland, OR don't use their tap water for anything foodlike because they kept getting sick before the county could get the warnings out.

But yah, if you've got good potable water, use it.
bayushi From: bayushi Date: April 11th, 2006 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)
There are also places (Ft. Myers in Florida, for one,) where it clearly states on the water bill that it's not safe to drink the tap water. Very scary.
dakiwiboid From: dakiwiboid Date: April 11th, 2006 01:53 am (UTC) (Link)

We use a PUR filter in our own home, alas

The municipal water system here is excellent, but for some reason, the water coming out of my tap at home tastes nasty. The only way I can stand to drink tap water at home is to to filter it. As for buying bottled water, if I'm on the road or dashing around town and don't happen to have my water bottle with me, I don't really mind buying bottled water. It's better for me than sodas or even most "fruit juices" (commercial brands are usually adulterated with corn syrup. This morning, I did take my own water bottle to a temp assignment, and was glad I did. We couldn't find a drinking fountain anywhere.
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: April 11th, 2006 02:00 am (UTC) (Link)
As with other comments, the water where I live tastes - icky. Cooking with it is Ok, but just drinking it isn't refreshing. I do - when I take my morning pills I have cup in the bathroom and I just use a swig of tap water to wash them down. But I drink a lot of water (trying to cut down my soda - at home I drink water, sometimes Diet Coke with Splenda) and I have Poland Spring delivered. It tastes better, a lot better, and I like the convenience - I always have nicely chilled water on tap, no filters, pitchers in the fridge, etc. I also have instant hot water on tap, for instant oatmeal, cocoa, tea, etc. The 5-gallon jugs I get don't cost me that much, and the combined better quality and convenience is worth it to me.
edichka2 From: edichka2 Date: April 11th, 2006 04:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I was in Orange County once, about to head out to the desert in my camper. Stopped at a gas station to fill the water tanks as well as the gas tank, and asked the attendant if I could get some drinking water. "Nah," he said, "all we gots is... tap."

Says plenty about the local perspective. And I don't think this guy drank Evian.
- Eddie

P.S. Prostate Specific Antigen?
drewkitty From: drewkitty Date: April 11th, 2006 04:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Municipal water ("tap water") is microbiologically safe in most areas. No guarantee, express or implied, is made that tap water is chemically safe or excludes known carcinogens. Filters make tap water much safer. However, filters that are not changed or maintained properly can make "filtered" water biologically unsafe due to bacteria growth in the filter media.

I buy bottled water to make sure that I stay hydrated in the car, where I spend a chunk of my time daily. The savings in avoiding one traffic accident will pay for water for a lifetime. Not to mention having an emergency reserve if my car breaks down, I am sent to a remote site suddenly for 12 hours, etc.

Most large companies maintain bottled water as an inexpensive perk, and to avoid the necessity of maintaining point-of-use filters. There is also some disaster preparedness benefit to having several water bottles in every break room, and using it up is a good way of keeping it fresh.

All of this said, I agree that the better answer is filters, especially at home. However, the cult of convenience (and viral marketing) causes a lot more bottled water to be sold, at vastly inflated prices, than is probably necessary.
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