Not quite like drinking the red coolaid, drinking the water in Springfield was like holding a glass up to a melting glacier–literally. Unlike the water in surrounding towns that was treated with everything from Fluoride to Chlorine, our water was filtered by Cobble Mountain and flowed to the Provin Mountain Reservoir. We didn’t take our water for granted, yet I don’t think we quite realized how uniquely fortunate we were to drink from our tap without a second thought. That was in the 80s and early 90s when bottled water meant tonic or seltzer. That was pre-the bottled water boom. Now, you’d be hard pressed to find most people in Springfield or anywhere else in the US drinking water straight from the tap. Britas in the fridge, filtering systems hooked on to our faucets, cases of plastic bottles in our car trunks. The bottled water craze has transcended gender, race, class, and region. And in the movie Tapped, documentary makers discuss the history of the bottled water epidemic, the toll it has had environmentally and most importantly, the health hazards, yes hazards, associated with drinking bottled water.
Here’s 5 Reasons We Should Think Twice About Drinking Bottled Water
1. Most bottled water is not safer than tap water, and some bottled water is actually worse than tap water. Tap water is tested ten times a day by municipal workers whose job it is to ensure that our drinking water is safe. Bottled water that is sold within the state does not have to be tested (approx. 70% of bottled water). When bottled water is tested, it’s tested by the company that’s selling it…most likely Nestle, Coca Cola or Pepsi (I’m sure there’s no conflict of interest there). There is only ONE person at the FDA who has the oversight of bottled water in her job description. And she’s in charge of bottled water and has other job responsibilities. The also movie highlights an experiment that randomly tested over 1000 bottles of water–straight off of the shelves–across the country. You’d be appalled at what they found (let’s just say that arsenic is the least of our worries).
2. Most bottled water is not from a mountain, spring, brook, creek or any other synonym for pristine stream set in some picturesque New England setting. It’s from a tap. Why pay for what you can get for free? One of the predominate marking strategies of the water industry was to make us think that we’re getting water from some super clean source in the Alps or New England or Colorado or something. Um, the picture of the mountain on the package does not mean that the water is from a mountain. It’s all marketing. Most water is actually tap water. So we’re buying water that we could drink for free. And we’re buying water that’s 1900 times…yes one thousand nine hundred times the cost of tap water. It’s like choosing to pay to breathe or to walk. It’s like shopping the day after Thanksgiving, but refusing the discounts. It’s like paying for first class and sitting in coach. It makes no sense.
3. Nestle, Coca Cola, and Pepsi are making BUKU cash and we’re not (and we’re not healthier). There is a whole industry of water mining that I knew nothing about before watching the movie. While our oceans and lakes are governed by a set of laws that make them “publicly” owned, ground water (e.g., water from springs, brooks, etc.) is not governed by these laws. The specifics depend on the state, but in Maine (e.g., where Poland Springs water is from [which is owned by the Swiss company Nestle]), the water is governed by absolute dominion. This means that whoever has the biggest pump gets the most water. So, Poland Springs trucks come into local communities, take the water for free, and then sell it to us. The World Bank estimated the water industry as a 800 billion dollar industry–per year.
4. The plastic that bottled water lives in contains toxins that lead to adverse health effects. Most bottled water is in PET or PETE plastic. There is evidence that such plastics leak endocrine disruptor toxins that negatively affect health outcomes from diabetes to reproductive health. The water that is not bottled in PET or PETE plastic bottles are often bottled in hard plastics (e.g., sports bottles, large water cooler bottles, BABY bottles), most of which contain BPA (Bisphenol A). BPA has been linked to obesity, neurological problems, cancer, poor reproductive health, heart disease and other health problems in over 200 peer-reviewed studies.
5. Bottled water is bad for the environment. I’ve heard this before. People do not recycle, bottles mount. The movie makes a much more compelling case for the environmental effect of bottled water. From the power plants that make the plastic that holds the water to the fish hundreds of miles away from land that have plastic bottle chunks in their stomachs, the estimated 80 million bottles of water that Americans drink daily are not so slowly killing the planet. And a dead planet means a dead us.
Water was couched as the the next big empire. They successfully fought for control over their water in Bolivia. We can do the same, by putting on our economic boxing gloves. The bottled water phenomenon is a very simple case of supply and demand. Stop the demand, bye bye supply. There wasn’t a demand fifteen years ago. The demand was created psychologically by marketing executives at Coca Cola and Pepsi who saw their profits dwindle as people drank less soda. And the demand too can be diminished… with awareness. Watch the movie and see their website for more specific things that we all can do to take action.