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The real cost of bottled water

by Aaron Weiss


Posted on July 2, 2007 at 9:16 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:35 PM

By Aaron Weiss

Fast Company (which just named Portland one of the 'Fastest' Cities in America) has a fascinating feature on the business of bottled water.

The bottom line: Bottled water is terrible for the environment.

Bottled water is often simply an indulgence, and despite the stories we tell ourselves, it is not a benign indulgence. We're moving 1 billion bottles of water around a week in ships, trains, and trucks in the United States alone. That's a weekly convoy equivalent to 37,800 18-wheelers delivering water.

Meanwhile, one out of six people in the world has no dependable, safe drinking water. The global economy has contrived to deny the most fundamental element of life to 1 billion people, while delivering to us an array of water "varieties" from around the globe, not one of which we actually need. (Link)
This session, Oregon lawmakers finally extended the bottle bill to include bottled water, which will hopefully increase recycling rates. But it doesn't mitigate the pollution caused by trucking all that water across the state and country.

We're lucky enough to have some of the best tap water in America. If you live in Portland, you're drinking Bull Run water, which easily won KGW's taste test in November 2005. If you're not in Portland, think how much money (and carbon) you'd save by investing in a Brita and a Nalgene.

Going Green is about taking small, easy steps to change the world. Instead of buying that case of water from Trader Joe's or Costco, take 30 seconds to pour yourself a bottle of water before you leave the house. That's about as small and as easy as they come.

(Hat tip to goodexperience.com.)