What if all you had to do to change the world for the better was drink a glass of water? A glass of water.
If you drank a glass of water, you wouldn’t be drinking pre-bottled water. And that would be good not only for the environment, but also for your health.
Though most of us have heard that drinking pre-bottled water is wasteful of resources, few of us understand just how harmful pre-bottled water — and the business of bottling water — is for our little blue planet.
Let’s start with the product. Most people assume that water sold in plastic bottles is specially purified or safer than tap water. Not true. Much of the water sold in bottles is taken from municipal water sources, i.e., the same sources that provide water to your kitchen tap.
And for that, you pay more than you pay for gasoline.
What most people are paying for, of course, is convenience. A bottle of water is a quick way to quench your thirst when you’re out and about. They fit nicely in your car’s beverage holder, your gym bag, your backpack. The big businesses that sell bottled water portray their product as being part of a healthy lifestyle. But that plastic container might be providing you with more than you bargain for.
Most bottled water in the United States comes in packaging that contains bisphenol A (BPA), phthalates or peraxylene (PET), all of which leach from the containers into the water and which have been shown to contribute to cancers and other diseases.
And although Boulder is big on recycling, fewer than 20 percent of plastic water bottles are actually recycled nationwide. The rest make their way into landfills, where they leach toxins into the soil, or they contribute to our terrible litter and pollution problems, including the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a vortex of litter formed by ocean currents that carry and concentrate trash in a specific area of the ocean.
Located roughly 135°W to 155°W and 35°N to 42°N, most of this garbage soup is made up of hardy plastics, which not only contain toxins, but are also capable of absorbing other environmental toxins. Marine wildlife ingest some of the plastic, and those chemicals get passed throughout the marine food chain and back to the species responsible for the mess in the first place. That’s us.
If all of that isn’t enough to persuade you to stop buying bottled water, perhaps taking a look at the corporate angle will. While the world stands on the brink of a potable water shortage with people literally dying every day due to lack of access to clean water, big corporations are buying water rights so that they can package that water and sell it.
This commodification of water — also under heavy demand from the gas and oil industry, as we saw recently in Colorado, where high-rolling frackers bought water shares that used to go to farmers — raise troubling questions about whether access to water is a human right or whether this most precious necessity can be controlled for the sake of profit.
When it comes to the evils of pre-bottled water, I’m just scratching the surface.
But Tapped, a film by director/producer Stephanie Soechtig, takes an in-depth look at the damage our consumption of pre-bottled water has on the environment, on our water supply and our health.
In honor of the 42nd celebration of Earth Day, Eco-Cycle will be screening Tapped on Sunday, April 22, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the St. Julien Hotel in Boulder. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Eco-Cycle Executive Director Eric Lombardi, and the event launches Eco-Cycle’s latest campaign, Choose to Reuse, which aims to combat the use of wasteful products such as pre-bottled water.
For those who can’t make the screening, here’s the gist: Quit buying pre-bottled water entirely. Use reusable lightweight stainless steel water bottles instead. It’s easy to do. It’s better for you. And it’s better for the environment.
For more information about the screening, Eco-Cycle’s full schedule of Earth Day events or the Choose to Reuse program, visit www.ecocycle.org/earthday.