Archive for the ‘bottled water’ Category

Ditching Bottled Water to Go Green

July 9, 2007

At the venerable Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, Calif., customers can indulge in baked quail, grilled squab and wines from around the world.

But if bottled water — a fine-dining fixture — is your libation of choice, you’re out of luck.

“For us, it’s about doing the right thing,” said Chez Panisse general manager Michael Kossa-Rienzi, referring to the restaurant’s recent decision to serve only filtered tap water.

The eatery is joining a growing list of restaurants kicking the bottle for environmental reasons. And some city governments are getting into the act as well.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom last month signed an executive order prohibiting city departments from buying bottled water, saying the move would save taxpayers money and be good for the planet.

“Each year, people are drinking 30 billion throwaway bottles of water,” said the Sierra Club’s Ruth Caplan. “If you put them end to end, it would go around the world more than 150 times.”

Caplan said four out of five plastic water bottles end up in landfills, but even before they get there, they’ve taken a toll on the environment.

To get to a store shelf in Chicago, for instance, a bottle of water from France must first travel more than 5,000 miles on ships and in trucks. And because water is heavy, transporting it requires a lot of fuel.

ABC News crunched the numbers — taking into account mileage and fuel requirements — and found that even before you drink that one-liter (or a 33.8 ounce) bottle of French water in Chicago, you’ve already consumed roughly 2 ounces of oil. And that doesn’t include the oil used to make the plastic.

In addition, the entire process — bottling, packaging and shipping — creates pollution and greenhouse gases.

“It’s ironic that on some of the labels of the bottles, you see snow-capped mountains and glaciers when in fact the production of the bottle is contributing to global warming, which is melting those snowcaps and those glaciers,” said Allen Hershkowitz at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

By contrast, tap water is delivered using little or no oil. New York City’s water, for instance, flows by force of gravity.

But the International Bottled Water Association, a trade group representing the bottled water industry, bristles at the bottle versus tap comparison.

“Consumers choose bottled water as a beverage alternative or a beverage option to other packaged beverages,” said IBWA spokesman Stephen Kay. “They’re not choosing bottled water uniformly over tap water.”

Kay said the bottled water industry has, actually, been a good steward of the environment by actively promoting recycling and introducing lighter and even biodegradable plastics. Some brands also donate a portion of sales to water projects in developing countries.

“Bottled water is one of thousands of food and beverage products packaged in plastic and shipped,” said Kay. “To single out bottled water … is really to miss an opportunity to engage in a comprehensive dialogue and take all-inclusive action to protect and sustain the environment.”

At Chez Panisse, Kossa-Rienzi said the switch to tap water had met with little resistance but added that a few customers do miss the bottled stuff.

“I kind of jokingly said, ‘Well, call me when you’re coming in, and I’ll run across the street to the supermarket,'” said Kossa-Rienzi.

New Yorkers Urged: Try the Tap Water, It’s GOOD!

July 9, 2007

NPR: National Public Radio
July 9, 2007 

City officials say that in an era of bottled water, a lot of New Yorkers don’t appreciate how good their municipal water is.

So they’ve recently launched a campaign to get people to rediscover the benefits of tap water.City Health Commissioner Thomas Frieden acknowledges that tap water may be a tough sell because many New Yorkers come from places where it’s unsafe to drink. Or they’re simply getting out of the tap water habit.

So the city recently kicked off a campaign called Get Your Fill, with ads extolling the virtues of tap water. The city recently dispatched a team of young men to Harlem to hand out empty blue plastic bottles. The idea was that instead of buying spring water, people could fill the bottles with tap water and carry them around all day.

But once people learned what the bottles were for, many were skeptical. Vida Asiamih says she lives in an apartment building where the pipes are said to be bad and she’s about as likely to drink tap water as she is gasoline.

The campaign has ruffled some feathers in the beverage industry. Joe Doss, who heads the International Bottled Water Association, doesn’t dispute the idea that New York has good water.

Doss says bottled water has exploded in popularity not because it’s better than tap water, but because it’s healthier than other beverages like soda.

The city has also taken shots from some of the local media, who fault it for spending money on an ad campaign right after raising water rates.

But city officials are standing firm. Frieden notes that if people drink tap water, they’re less likely to consume sugary beverages.

“New Yorkers will be better off it they drink more water,” he says. “And if promoting water consumption results in a reduction in obesity and diabetes, it’s actually going to save the city a lot of money.”

The city says that buying less bottled water means fewer plastic bottles getting tossed out, which benefits the environment.

Frieden also says New Yorkers have paid for a great water system. It only makes sense that they use it.