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theclencher 07-03-2007 10:43 AM

Buying bottled water very UN-eco-friendly!
 
Dollars & Sense: H2 - Oh, no
In blind taste tests, many prefer the taste of tap water to bottled, yet too many of us still buy the bottle, despite the cost and the impact on the planet.

By John Ewoldt, Star Tribune

Last update: July 02, 2007 ? 5:07 PM

A wave of guilty bemusement washed over Tom Chochrek of Edina as he pulled a 12-pack of Ice Mountain off the shelf at Target. "It galls me that I buy it," he said. "I could get it cheaper from the tap, but that's not so practical in the car with the kids."
Why do so many Americans choose bottled water? Certainly convenience, but better taste and smell are reasons, too. Many Americans believe that bottled water not only tastes better, but contains fewer impurities. The labels soothe us with words such as "purified,"natural springs,"artesian" and even "wellness water." Who wouldn't want to drink liquid refreshment that comes from an aquifer deep within the Earth on a remote island? That sounds better than "from the river so murky you're afraid to swim or fish in it."

Still, in a blind, informal taste test in the newsroom, seven of eight tasters thought that Minneapolis tap water was equal to or better than Dasani, Ice Mountain or Fiji. Only one taster preferred the most expensive water from the island. Others said it was "so so,"flat" or "had an aftertaste." One reviewer was convinced that all four were the same.

In 2000, Lynne Rossetto Kasper of the Splendid Table radio show did a taste test comparing Dasani, Evian, Chippewa and Minneapolis tap water. Not only did Minneapolis tap win, but Kasper was sure that Evian was tap water.

What many buyers of bottled water may not know is that Coca-Cola (Dasani), Pepsi (Aquafina) or Nestle (Ice Mountain) don't have to release their water testing results to the public like municipalities do. Nor do they add fluoride to deter tooth decay, as most municipal water operations do.

Minneapolis, for example, tests its water for more than 100 contaminants. A new filtration system in Columbia Heights removes more impurities than are required for federal water quality standards. More than 500,000 residents, including Minneapolis, Golden Valley, Crystal, New Hope and Columbia Heights get water from its plant.

Buying a bottle of water at a convenience store for 79 cents may seem cheap, but a consumer can fill the same bottle 2,850 times at the price of Minneapolis water, according to the city's website. While many Americans moan about the price of gasoline, few seem to groan about the price of bottled water, which, if you're choosing Fiji's rectangular bottle, costs about $8.50 a gallon ($2.25 for a 1-liter bottle). In total, Americans spend about $11 billion yearly on bottled water.

Oil and water do mix

Carrying around liquid refreshment on a hot summer day may be refreshing, but not "green." More than 1.5 million barrels of oil are needed each year to produce plastic water bottles for Americans, according to the Earth Policy Institute in Washington D.C., enough to fuel 100,000 U.S. cars for one year. Unfortunately, only 20 percent of those containers are being recycled, according to the National Association for PET Container Resources in Charlotte, N.C. Many are thrown away by consumers on the go who can't find a recycling option in parks or shopping malls, said Angie Timmons, a senior planning analyst with Hennepin County Environmental Services.

The impact isn't just the mountains of plastic water bottles trashed, but also the amount of fuel necessary to ship water from the source to the point of consumption. Consumers may feel a little sheepish paying big bucks to have water shipped from Fiji or France only to find they can't taste a big difference between H2O from the hinterlands and their own tap.

Some leaders are beginning to see it as a political and moral issue. A documentary called "Troubled Waters" looked at the rationale that bottling water takes water resources away from the poor in developing countries. The film was co-sponsored by the National Coalition of American Nuns and Presbyterians for Restoring Creation and the United Church of Christ.

Last month, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak co-sponsored a resolution at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Los Angeles calling for a study on the impact of bottled water on cities' budgets and waste disposal. Rybak wants to combat the belief that bottled water is safer and healthier than tap water.


John Ewoldt ? 612-673-7633 or jewoldt@startribune.com. His articles are online at www.startribune.com/dollars.

? 2007 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

http://www.startribune.com/1229/story/1281331.html
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I can count the times I've had bottled water on one hand, and the times I've bought it = zero. I just don't get the popularity of it. But then again, I always feel out of step with the rest of the herd. I keep a big mug in the car and can fill it for free with ice water at darn near every service station, anywhere. What could be more convenient?

Bill in Houston 07-03-2007 11:29 AM

We need to institute a deposit system on plastic bottles down here. They are SUCH an eyesore, and they are practically never recycled. What a waste.

I keep thinking back to 20 years ago. I remember when both children and adults could go a whole hour without drinking. Sometimes even up to three hours! But now people have to have their little bottles of liquid wherever they go, lest they somehow magically and instantaneously dehydrate and send their kidneys into shock...

repete86 07-03-2007 11:44 AM

I tend to but a big bottle of water every once in a while then refill it from the tap until it starts to get nasty then I recycle it. This emphasis on bottled water doesn't really make any sense to me.

omgwtfbyobbq 07-03-2007 11:52 AM

We need Al water bottles!1!1! But seriously, what's better than commercializing one of the best run public services out there? People need water, if we ever privatize it, industry can make a killing. Iirc, they tried to do something like this is S America.

repete86 07-03-2007 12:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by omgwtfbyobbq (Post 61843)
Iirc, they tried to do something like this is S America.

Yep, Coca Cola is very good at such things. I think that it was Nicaragua where they did this thanks to the US backed government.

Bill in Houston 07-03-2007 12:45 PM

What's funny to me is that the health food crunchy granola nature lover people are the ones who started the whole "tap water will kill you" thing, and now look what they have wrought. Talk about unintended consequences.

Hockey4mnhs 07-03-2007 12:54 PM

somone called biota makes them out of corn now if thats any better.

repete86 07-03-2007 01:09 PM

It's not. I can't imagine how much energy it takes to process corn and turn it into a bottle. I would rather reuse the same plastic bottle over and over again than use a starch bottle that is only good for one use.

MnFocus 07-03-2007 01:35 PM

Thats why Evian = Naive .

MnFocus 07-03-2007 01:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by theclencher (Post 61840)
Yeah Bill, that's another aspect of it that pizzez me off- the ditches are full of empty bottles and there's no economic reward for picking them up like there is for cans. :mad:


Oh c'mon pick em up and truck em to Michigan for 10cents each ! (just don't get caught ...and you heard nuthin from me ;) )


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