the battle against bottled water

Posted on July 10, 2007

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It’s truly heartening to see the spread of the movement to ban bottled water in cities, with the cities’ governments taking the lead on the matter.

First, it was Los Angeles, whose mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made city agencies stop buying bottled water for employees in 2005. Villaraigosa was prompted to take that step after finding out that the city had spent nearly $90,000 on it. It was an embarrassing discovery for Villaraigosa, as around the same time, L.A.’s water agency happened to be financing a $1 million ad campaign on the merits of tap water.

San Francisco followed suit last month.

Now, New York has a campaign to get New Yorkers to drink tap water instead of buying bottled water. It’s even roped in restaurants to serve tap waters to customers instead of selling them bottled water.

Cost-cutting might have spurred L.A. and San Francisco to stop buying bottled water for city employees. But the true beneficiary emerging from these developments will be the environment.

A staggering billion of plastic bottles, or even more, that are used to contain water end up in California’s landfills annually. And that’s just California alone. Recycling efforts may be in existence but that is clearly not keeping up with the rate at which bottled water is consumed and the plastic bottles being disposed.

Besides the waste generated from the plastic bottles, the development of the plastic for the water bottles, and eventually, the transportation, distribution and the cost of the water, all make huge environmental impact. SF’s mayor says it takes more energy to transport bottled water than a barrel of oil. Environmental groups also cite the statistic that four out of five plastic water bottles end up on landfill sites while its production process contributes to global warming.

If only people would realize that tap water is usually as good, or if not better, than bottled water. Plus it’s cheap.

More cities should follow on the path taken by these three cities, not only as a cost-cutting measure but as a serious environment-benefiting step.

They shouldn’t stop there.

The next object of their target ought to be plastic bags — get supermarkets and stores to stop using them and have people use reusable bags instead. That would be another great step in the fight for the environment.

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