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Monday, September 15, 2008

Kick the Bottled Water Habit

Mary Campbell, Pinellas County Extension Director, Urban Sustainability Agent

Bottled water is easy and convenient. The sales of bottled water have grown tremendously is recent years. Each year, people are drinking 30 billion throwaway bottles of water. A large majority of these end up in landfills. But even before they get there, they've taken a toll on the environment from the oil to transport and manufacture to the waste handling.

Is bottled water superior in quality to tap water? The regulations governing the quality of public water supplies are far stricter than those governing bottled-water plants. So why do consumers shun tap water that is low cost and purchase bottled water? If convenience is the answer, then using a reusable bottle can solve that concern. Blind taste tests have actually shown there is little taste difference between some bottled water and tap water.

Do you have to give up your favorite bottled water to go green? Not necessarily. Recycling the plastic bottles is a great step to green up the use of plastic bottles, but there are additional ways you can reduce waste and even save money. Purchase large containers (3- 5 gal.) of bottled water and put into reusable bottles to make it convenient to take with you. A note of caution—although it is tempting, refilling single-serve water bottles with tap water and reusing them repeatedly is not recommended due to potential sanitation concerns. Refilling these water bottles with tap water, without sanitizing the bottles in between can introduce harmful bacteria to the water.

City and state governments are looking at the economics of banning bottled water. Citing environmental concerns, Los Angeles; San Francisco; Ann Arbor, Mich.; and the state of Illinois have banned the use of public funds to purchase bottled water for city and state functions. In June, the US Conference of Mayors adopted a resolution to bring attention to the negative impact of bottled water and promote local sources.

Whatever your choice – go green by recycling, reduce packaging waste and have reusable containers handy. Take our Check Your Green Commitment Pledge and kick the bottled water habit today!

Take the Pledge here


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