Bring back public drinking-water fountains

Bring back public drinking water fountains and say NO to bottled water. This industry has to be the silliest, most wasteful and harmful activity known to man, after perhaps war. Ask for tap water in pubs and restaurants.

Watch this concise and comprehensive video from The Story of Stuff Project.

It takes the energy equivalent of 17 barrels of oil to produce 1 ton of PET, Polyethylene terephthalate, the plastic that is used for bottles of drinking water. That is even before it is tranported – full of water – sometimes halfway round the world, eg from Évian-les-Bains or Fiji to California.

The bottled water market is what’s known as a “Manufactured Demand”:
By fetishising a product (the taste is awesome!  . . .  it makes my skin look young . . . it looks cool and sophisticated . . . is this real Perrier?) and by scaring us into believing  it is safer than our mostly perfectly safe tap water, we are manipulated into spending  about 2000 times more per litre:
Your $30-60 USD for 12 liter bottles of  “Fiji” water would buy you 24,000 liters of tap water at average municipal rates!  As for the various brands available, there is a thriving “Own Label” industry suggesting that many of them must be just re-bottled tap water.

drinking fountain in France

drinking fountain in France

And what happens to all those bottles after we empty them? A small percentage is re-cycled – at our expense as community-charge payers – or more likely down-cycled; some find their way into rivers and eventually the North Pacific Gyre; the rest goes into landfill or incinerators: waste-to-energy facilities that use heat energy to generate steam or electricity, although the much higher amount of energy initially required to produce the plastic is lost.

Plastic water and soda bottles should not be re-used.
As for re-using them till they break, most types of plastic bottles are safe to re-use at least a few times, but according to the Environment California Research & Policy Center
there are severe danges:s Health advocates recommend not re-using bottles made from plastic #1 (polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PET or PETE), including most disposable water, soda and juice bottles. According to The Green Guide, such bottles may be safe for one-time use, but re-use should be avoided because studies indicate they may leach DEHP—another probable human carcinogen—when they are in less-than-perfect condition.

Safe re-usable bottles do exist.
Safer choices include bottles made from HDPE (plastic #2), low-density polyethylene (LDPE, AKA plastic #4) or polypropylene (PP, or plastic #5).
Aluminum bottles and stainless steel water bottles are thought to be safe choices and can be re-used repeatedly and eventually recycled. There used to be a concern about a link between aluminium and Alzheimers Disease several decades ago but studies seem to be inconclusive. See Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium#Health_concerns

The Story of Stuff Project:

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