A few days ago, a Canadian news source put out an article called, “Bottled water not so bad.” Naturally, I was curious. There have been a lot of recent desperate attempts by the bottled water industry to reclaim its hold on the convenience-obsessed, consumer culture of America. The IBWA has put out several videos, such as “The Real Story of Bottled Water,” defending bottled water from the criticism it has received from environmental enthusiasts like Annie Leonard, or Stephanie Soechtig – director of the documentary “Tapped” – who claim that bottled water is an expensive marketing scam that’s bad for the environment. (In case it’s not obvious by now, we tend to agree.)
This article, along with several other recent news sources, claims that bottled water’s environmental footprint is not that bad, when compared to that of other packaged consumer goods. According to the article, “the average bottle of water travels about 250 kilometers from source to shelf.” Hmm… now I know Fiji is not your “average” bottle of water, but last I checked, it was a lot farther than 250 kilometers. This article also makes the point that bottled water is 100 percent recyclable. The problem, however, is that not much of it is actually recycled. Though the recycling rate of bottled water has risen, according to a recent report, we are still left to deal with the remaining 69 percent that continue to pollute our landfills.
The only seed of hope that I saw in this argument was this: “Plastic beverage containers represent less than one-fifth of one per cent of the waste stream. Bottled water packaging represents 40 per cent of that.”
Perhaps that’s because more people are beginning to realize the wastefulness of plastic bottled beverage consumption. IBWA has proudly reported that the recycling rate of bottled water has increased to 31 percent. Well, of course it has. If fewer people are choosing to drink beverages sold in plastic bottle containers, even if the amount of bottles recycled remains the same, the rate of recycling is bound to increase.
Perhaps you’re a little hesitant to trust the water that comes out of your tap, especially in light of the recent discovery of hexavalent chromium (a.k.a. chromium-vi, or chromium-6) in water, in 31 cities across the U.S. If you think bottled water will save you, think again. Your best bet is to buy a reverse osmosis filter. Even the Environmental Working Group admitted that bottled water will not guarantee protection from this carcinogenic substance.
Once again, the bottled water industry has put its best, most defensive foot forward, but we are still not quite convinced. Nice try, though. Good game.