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  • Should corporations bottle air and sell it back to us to breathe?

    That sounds pretty stupid, doesn't it? However that is exactly what is happening to another resource that all people must have to survive on this planet—water. Bottled water. It's all over the place—for a fee. Where does it come from?

    Norlex Holdings in Australia plans to bore into the water resources of the small town of Bundanoon. They'll take the water to Sydney by truck, then bottle the water in Sydney, and truck it to stores to sell it for a profit. All this in a country where tap water is readily available and basically the same as what's in the Norlex bottle.

    The town of Bundanoon wants to stop Norlex. Although they have been protesting for quite some time, they recently decided to try a new strategy. They banned bottle water. They are promoting Bundy on Tap. Visitors to the town are encouraged to fill their own container with delicious Bundanoon tap water.

    Here is an excerpt from th Bundanoon website:

    "The Norlex water extraction issue has galvanized our local community like no other issue in recent times. Norlex plans to truck water to Sydney for bottling and sale at great profit to them but no economic or social benefit to Bundanoon. This, along with much recent media coverage, got some us of thinking. Could we make Bundanoon Australia's First Bottled Water Free Town?"

    "One of the Directors of Norlex told me that they wanted to put Bundanoon on the map. On the map for all the wrong reasons. On the map for our part in an industry that, by any measure, represents all that is wrong with consumerism and marketing. An industry that Clean Up Australia has described as a global environmental disaster and that was described by the Sydney Morning Herald as ‘The New Social Poison'. There is even Calm; bottled water for dogs infused with flower essences."

    "Some facts:
    • Some 400,000 barrels of oil annually are used to manufacture the plastic that goes into the bottles that slake Australia's thirst for bottled water
    • Only 30% of these bottles are recycled
    • In 2008 Australians were expected to spend more than $450 million on packaged water
    • The average price of bottled water is $2.53/litre against 1 cent/per litre for tap water
    • The beverage industry loves bottled water because the costs of producing it are minimal. Just think of the ingredients in bottled water!
    • We in Bundanoon have a fine product called Bundanoon Natural Tap Water!"

    "How about we put Bundanoon on the map for some good reasons? How about we make Bundanoon Australia's First Bottled Water Free Town. It would offer so many positives for the town. Showing we care about our local environment and the global environment, reducing the landfill contribution of plastic bottles, reducing littering of our town and very importantly it would add to the positive image of Bundanoon. An image of a friendly place to live or visit, a great place to walk or cycle, a Tidy Town with an active, concerned community."

    Read the recent BBC News article about Bundanoon.

    This blog offers an alternative opinion on the motivation of the townspeople of Bundanoon. Judge for yourself.

    Don't know where Bundanoon is? Check out this map.

  • Bottle Your Own Water: Save Money and Help Local Communities

    Buy a water bottle. Stick it under the faucet in your kitchen. Turn on the tap. It's that simple. You've just saved money and helped local communities. This bottle is from Save Our Water.

    When you buy bottled water, you are literally taking water from someone else's watershed. You are damaging those local communities and ecosystems. You are putting plastic into landfills. What's more, you are being deceived. Bottle water is expensive, not necessarily filtered, and in most cases, it is just tap water from another location but with a fancy name.

    "Nestle Waters North America ... is now pumping as much as 300 million gallons per day of water from two Michigan sites for bottling."

    Water companies would not be bottling water if people refused to buy it and instead bottled their own.

    Learn more: Will Bottled Water Companies Suck the Great Lakes Dry?

    Watch Flow: The Film (available on iTunes or for purchase through the Flow website.)

  • Support the Maine Water Warriors

    Nestle's is grabbing the State of Maine's water supply to ship elsewhere. Real people in Maine speak out against this draining of Maine's natural resource. Water for people, not for profit.

    Nestle's bottles these brands: Arrowhead, Calistoga, Deer Park, Ice Mountain, Ozarka, Poland Spring, Zephyrhills, Perrier, S. Pellegrino, Acqua Panna, Contrex, Nestlé Pure Life.

    Find out more, help out the people of Maine: Defending Water for Life in Maine.

    Remember, if you don't drink bottled water, Nestle's and other corporations will not have anyone to sell it to.

  • Aquafina is Tap Water

    It's been public knowledge for some time that Pepsi-Cola bottles tap water under the Aquafina brand. The "technical" term is P.W.S., which means public water source. That's a water source that you and I pay for with taxes. Pepsi gets to take that free water, put it in a bottle, and sell it to you. So why not just bottle and drink your own?

    Buy a water bottle from a great organization like SOH2O. You'll help them out, help out the environment, and save money.

  • The Cost of Bottled Water

    Every year over $100 Billion dollars is spent on bottled water world-wide.  The United Nations estimates that if given just 1/6th of that money for one year, $15 billion, they could cut in half the number of people without access to clean water.

    "The cost of just one case of bottled water water could supply a person in Kenya with clean, safe drinking water for the next 5 years!"

    Take the Water Challenge. Just give up all drinks EXCEPT water for two weeks. Drink tap water. Take all the beverage money you save and donate to the Water Project to help fund a project that will build wells for schools in developing countries.

  • Soda is Flavored Tap Water: Why Not Make Your Own?

    Drinking tap water instead of buying bottled water is better for the environment. You aren't throwing away bottles. You aren't draining the water from someone else's community. And your own tap water doesn't require fuel to get to you. Tap water is earth-friendly!

    Soda presents the same issue. It's basically flavored tap water. It uses a lot of energy to transport. It takes water from someone else's community. It creates a lot of waste from bottles. So why not make your own?

    It's pretty easy to carbonate your own tap water using a seltzer maker. SodaStream has great kits that are easy—and fun—to use. You can buy their flavors or make your own. Or just drink the carbonated water straight. It's refreshing!

  • Break the Bottled Water Habit

    Have you kicked the bottled water habit? You might think that you can reuse a disposable plastic bottle, but they aren't good for multiple uses. They grow bacteria and leach chemicals. All those disposable bottles are just piling up in dumps and even out in the ocean. Find out how to break the habit. 

  • Tapped: An Expose on Bottled Water

    Watch the Tapped movie trailer. Then watch the movie. (You can host a screening if you want.) Then start drinking your own tap water. The plastic bottles are made from petrochemicals that can leech into the water in the bottle. The plastic bottles are polluting our environment. It takes a lot of energy to transport bottled water. Why are you drinking it? Bottle water takes water from a small community's water table. Boycott bottle water.

  • Lewis Black on Bottled Water

    Remember the day when you could quench your thirst instead of getting hydrated? Does Aquafina mean the end of water as we know it? Does the deer on the label of Deer Park water pee in the water before it's bottled? Lewis Black expounds on these and other water-related questions. If you don't mind explicit language, watch it on You Tube: Lewis Black on bottled water.  (Photo from Wikicommons.)

  • Watergeeks: Canadian Company Takes on the Bottled Water Industry

    Watergeeks is a business that sells water bottles, water filters, and other products aimed at helping alleviate the global water crisis. Their main products are personal water bottles. Their mission is to eliminate the waste of bottles used for bottled water. Many people think that because bottled water bottles are recyclable, that the bottles actually get recycled. But of the 10 billion bottles of water sold each year, only 10% are recycled. The other 9 billion bottles end up in landfills. Watch this video to get an idea of how many bottles that is. Then, get yourself a personal water bottle, fill it with tap water, and stop buying bottled water. Watergeeks isn't the only place that sells good personal water bottles, but they do have an interesting website with lots of facts about water, the world water crisis, contamination, and more.

  • Drink Up and Pollute the Air

    Bottled water companies like to claim how environmentally responsible they are by using recyclable bottles, using thinner plastic, reclaiming water used in processing, and so on.  So think about the following the next time your are compelled to purchase bottled water:

    After Nestle rolled into McCloud, California to extract water (they have a 100 year contract), 250-300 trucks per day started rolling into town 24/7/ all year)McCloud has noise and air pollution now that they never had before. When you drink bottled water, think of McCloud. If the water in the bottle isn't coming from McCloud, it's coming from some other small town's aquifer—like Chaffee County, Colorado or Fryeburg, Maine or Mecosta County, Michigan.

    Why don't you just buy a water bottle, fill it with water from your own tap, and carry that bottle with you? Then you can drink up and know that you are not causing grief for some small town.

    See: Stop Nestle's Waters.

  • Great Gifts for the Thirsty on Your List: Bottled Water Makers

    Got some people on your holiday gift list who are always slurping bottled water? Give them something to wean them from the bottled water habit. You'll not only help your friends save money on future purchases of bottled water, but you'll help stop corporate water giants from sucking down the water tables of rural communities. You'll reduce the waste created by all those "recyclable" water bottles too.

    To make bottled water, you need two things: a water tap and a bottle. Sounds simple? Chances are that your gift recipient already has a water tap at home. All you need to buy is the bottle.

    Here's are two places where you can purchase reusable bottles:

    If your gift recipient prefers carbonated water, then consider giving them something like the SodaStream.

  • Maintaining Water Balance

    There are many things that upset the water balance, like irrigating dry areas for crops. But bottled water is one completely avoidable imbalance. It's a waste of energy. It's a waste of money. It's unfair to the local communities that rely on the water table.

    Let's take a look at a balanced water system and then see how to imbalance it with bottled water. I'll use my water system (which I described yesterday) as an example.

    First take a look at the soil and ground water layers in this USGS diagram. The "unsaturated zone" has small empty spaces between the grains of dirt that are filled with air or water. But because it's all mixed in together, it is impossible to pump any water out. Plants do a pretty good job extracting water from this layer with their roots.

    If you go down deep enough, you arrive at the saturated zone where water dominates. I actually have two wells on my property. One is an Artesian well, where the ground water is really near the surface. It's not trapped below like what you see in the diagram. The other well is tapping into ground water similar to what you see in the image.

    The ground water gets refilled by water seeping down through the layers, although in some cases there could be an underground river recharging the ground water. In a dry place like parts of Texas, it could take centuries to refill. In wet areas, like the Panama canal zone that I just visited, ground water will get replenished fast. I have no idea how long it takes for my ground water to replenish.

    Not all rainwater makes it back to the groundwater layer. As you might imagine, evaporation and plants use up a bit.

    After I extract the water from the ground, it either gets drunk, used to wash something (dishes or me or laundry), or flushes a toilet. Used water goes into a septic tank or directly on the ground. In either case, it ends up seeping into the ground and some of it will end up recharging the ground water. The main point is that this is a balanced system. Whatever I takes stays right on the property.

    If I were an entrepreneur, I might look at my 10,000 gallon water tank as a money maker. That comes out to 40,000 16 oz bottles. At a conservative $1 a bottle, even if costs were 0.50 to produce, I can make $20,000 a tank. I'm told that the flow rate from my groundwater is pretty good. I haven't done the math, but I do know I can pump quite a bit of water, quite fast out of the ground in my area. Pure, clean, mountain water.

    What would happen if I did that?

    As soon as the water gets transported off property, I lose that amazing balanced system I had going. What's more, I'm using gasoline to bring the water to someone who is too lazy to fill their own reusable bottle. I'm also sucking down the same groundwater that my neighbors are tapping into. Oh yeah, then there is the energy I have to expend to fabricate the bottles, the gasoline to bring them to my bottling plant, and the inevitable waste the bottle creates.

  • Is Bottled Water Green?

    No, bottled water is not green. Yet the marketeers of bottled water companies are working hard to convince you that drinking it actually helps the environment. Save your money and don't fall for it.

    Green Planet is one of the more recent bottled water vendors on the market. I'll analyze the hype on the bottle:

    Green Planet: The environmentally friendly bottle.
    Digital Rabbit: It burns great because it was made from plants, not oil. They still have to use up energy to fabricate the bottle, make the inks, and so on. The most environmentally friendly container is a reusable one, like a glass.

    Green Planet: Quench your thirst and your desire to help the environment.
    Digital Rabbit: You can just as easily quench your thirst by turning on your own tap. Then take the money your were going to spend on the bottled water and donate it to a true environmental cause.

    Green Planet: Pure Handcrafted Water.
    Digital Rabbit: What does that mean? Did someone take hydrogen and mix it with oxygen? I think not. This is pure B.S. I described my water system a few days ago. There is nothing to "handcrafted water." Turn on the pump, extract the water from the ground. It probably doesn't even need treatment.

    Green Planet: By choosing our water you're helping reduce global warming, carbon emissions and our dependency on oil.
    Digital Rabbit: Pure B.S. You are actually contributing to global climate change and increasing dependency on oil. The bottle takes energy to manufacture. The bottled water takes gasoline to transport. (Water is heavy, too.) Manufacturing and transportation emit carbon.

    My advice. Drink tap water.

  • It's all about the bottle and where it ends up...

    That's"It's all about the bottle and where it ends up" is  the first sentence on the back label of Green Planet water. Where are bottles ending up? I took these photos a few weeks ago, when I was hiking in the rainforest of Panama, near Gamboa.

    How many reusable water bottles do you find on the ground? I've never found any. People tend to hang onto those. Bottled water promotes carelessness. No message on any bottle will change that.


    Yes, these look like they are soda bottles. The issue is the same for soda (colored, sweetened tap water) as it is for plain bottled water and carbonated bottled water.

  • Join Canada in Bucking Bottled Water

    More than 70 municipalities, 6 school boards, and several campuses no long provide or sell bottled water in Canada. The Canadian Federation of Students, the Polaris Institute, and the Sierra Youth Coalition are sponsoring a Bottled Water Free Day on March 11, 2010. You don't have to be Canadian to pledge to give up bottled water.

    They say:

    "The bottled water industry is less regulated than municipal water systems, consumes more energy and releases more harmful toxins into the environment than tap water."

    Their website provides many facts that you might want to check out, like this one:

    "For soft drink giants PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, revenues from bottled water per unit outstrip soft drinks."

  • Greenwashing = Green Whitewash

    Did you ever stay in a hotel that places cards in your room that encourage you to reuse the towels and sheets during your stay? It gives you a warm, fuzzy feeling that your stay is helping the environment. You are saving water! When I walk around such a hotel and see an extraordinary number of lights on—and kept on all night—I wonder whether the hotel is really all that committed to saving the environment. Or is the hotel just trying to attract green customers?

    In the 1980's the term greenwashing was invented to refer to the practice of hotels that promoted linen reuse but did not also have other strategies for recycling. Green is good. Don't get me wrong. But it is deceptive to spend more money promoting products as green than actually making sure the company is green or that the product itself is green.

    That's one of the reasons why I posted Is Bottled Water Green? some time back. Focusing on whether the bottle itself is better than some other bottle totally misses the point that bottling water is not an environmentally friendly practice to begin with.

    Do you have any examples of greenwashing?

  • Canada Students are Kicking the Bottle

    This story, from Inside the Bottle, highlights action taken by students on campuses in Ontario, Canada.

    "February 22, 2010, OTTAWA –Campus organizers from across Ontario are racing to see whose campus can go bottled water free first. The Ontario Bottled Water Free Campus Challenge is a challenge initiated by more than 20 Ontario campuses that are actively working to restrict bottled water while promoting accessible public water infrastructure on campus.

    Over the last 12 months three Canadian campuses—The University of Winnipeg (Manitoba), Memorial University (Newfoundland & Labrador) and Brandon University (Manitoba)—all signed water declarations to end the sale and distribution of bottled water and promote public water on campus. To date no Ontario campus has banned bottled water."

    For the rest of the story, go to the Inside the Bottle website.

  • Confused by plastics?

    If you drink bottled water, you might be concerned with the composition of the plastic bottle that the water comes in. The Straight Dope has a great article you should read: What's up with compostable plastics?

    An excerpt from the article:

    "So what's compostable plastic good for? It's made from a renewable resource, namely corn, but that doesn't necessarily make it environmentally friendly. Writing in Scientific American in 2000, Tillman Gerngross and Steven Slater pointed out that manufacturing PLA required more fossil fuels than it takes to make most plastics, canceling out the environmental benefit.

    They weren't completely down on the stuff, though, and pointed out two benefits you might not suspect. First, much of the energy needed to turn corn into plastic could be obtained by burning the stalks and leaves, known as stover, which are normally discarded. Second, they argue, we don't reallywant PLA to biodegrade — just the opposite. The big push these days is on figuring out ways to sequester carbon so it doesn't enter the atmosphere as CO2, one of the major greenhouse gases. What better way to do that than grow corn, which sucks CO2 out of the atmosphere, then use the corn to make plastic, which can be buried underground after use?

    Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying this is accepted scientific advice. But it's not out of the question that years from now the environmentally responsible thing may be to use all the plant-derived plastic packaging you can and then throw the stuff away."

    If you are really concerned, you'll give up drinking bottled water. Then you won't have to worry about the origin and future of the plastic bottle.

    Thanks to The Wanderer for the pointer to The Straight Dope.

  • I'll take my water with Strontium

    I've posted a lot of blogs about bottled water vs. tap water. The cost of bottled water is ridiculously high. But there are many companies that produce outrageously expensive bottled water. I mean OUTRAGEOUSLY expensive water. Like $45 for a 750 ml bottle. You got it right. A wine bottle's worth of water for forty-five dollars USD. Hey, you can get a couple of decent bottles of wine for that price. That's Elsenham Water.

    Why so expensive? Their website explains the exceptional quality of this water:

    Elsenham Still Artesian Spring Water is rich in minerals particularly calcium, iron, low in sodium and rich in strontium, which is good for bone density. The water is decades old and bottled at source from a deep underground chalk confined aquifer, and due to its depth absolutely pure.

    But there is more. If you are not convinced about the water, consider the bottle, which is the essence of high-end design:

    Elsenham Still Artesian Spring Water is positioning itself at the luxury premium end of the market, with a highly exclusive distribution approach. The bottle and the cap are like architecture and unique, with both having been registered with full copy right design rights. It has been designed to reflect the purity of the water and is unlike any other bottle.

    What do you know about Strontium?

    Wikipedia says:

    The human body absorbs strontium as if it were calcium. Due to the elements being sufficiently similar chemically, the stable forms of strontium might not pose a significant health threat—in fact, the levels found naturally may actually be beneficial (see below) -- but the radioactive 90Sr can lead to various bone disorders and diseases, including bone cancer. The strontium unit is used in measuring radioactivity from absorbed 90Sr.

    How do you know which form you are getting?

  • Are we really in a recession?

    When I discovered Bling H2O, I realized all the doom and gloom about the economy must be made up. We live in a country where people will pay $50 for a 750 ml. bottle of Bling H2O. Do you think it's the fact the bottle on the Bing H2O website is positioned between the heel and buttocks of some almost-nude model? Or is it the corked, reusable, frosted glass bottles with the crystals on it that sells it? Perhaps the cost is worth the impression you make when you carry around Bling H2O in Hollywood.

    The water is from Tennessee. Does that state really have water that tastes that good? I guess you'll have to buy a bottle and try it. Let me know if you do. If you have that kind of money to throw around, consider donating the money to fund a water project in a developing country. $50 USD will get someone 2,000 days of fresh water.

  • Drink Gas, It's Cheaper than Water

    MaHaLo Hawaiian Deep Sea Water is $15 a gallon. Gas in California is only $3.

    The latest in the bottled water industry is desalinated sea water. Hey, isn't that just water? No, MaHaLo explains:

    "The Deep Sea Water used for MaHaLo bottled drinking water is very old. It takes between 1,200 and 2,000 years for the water to travel from the North Atlantic Ocean through the freezing Arctic currents, under the vast glaciers of Greenland, where it gathers ancient minerals that leach down from the ice. Then it flows around and back down toward the deep channels of the Pacific Ocean. It is there, at the Water Rejuvenation Zone just off the coast of Kona, Hawaii, that the water is at its very purest. "

    I'm not sure how they know that the water molecules they pull from Hawaii have actually taken that route over that time period. One thing I do know is that the water from the tap in my kitchen is delicious, fresh, clean, contains trace minerals and is FREE!!! That's right, absolutely free. No cost. What's more, it doesn't require transportation in trucks and it doesn't create pollution with plastic bottles. Tap water is ecological. Bottled water, no matter what the cost, is not.

  • Protecting the Waters of Mt. Shasta

    As the bottled water industry grows, communities must be more and ore vigilant about protecting their water. Otherwise that water might end up going elsewhere instead of back into the watershed, where it belongs. Protect Our Waters watches over the waters that originate from magnificent Mt. Shasta in Northern California—the Shasta, the Upper Sacramento and the McCloud rivers.

    At one point, Nestle tried to get McCloud water for bottling. Fortunately for McCloud, Nestle dropped its pursuit.

    Protect Our Waters has a cartoon that sums up some of the issues with exporting water from a community.

  • Orland, CA Loses Water Rights to Crystal Geyser

    Crystal Geyser won the right to build a bottling plant, take water from Orland, CA, and sell it all over the world. Save Our Water Resources, a citizens' group, was unsuccessful in blocking the effort.

    If you drink Crystal Geyser—or any other bottled water—consider stopping. You are taking water from another community. Not only are you robbing a community of its water, but you are paying an outrageous amount for something that every member of that community gets for free out of the tap. If you can afford bottled water, you most likely live in a community that has perfectly good tap water.

    For details, see:

  • Water: Only $31 a Cup

    At $7 for 1.76 oz., Avéne Thermal Spring Water is one of the most expensive water products on the planet. It's water in a spray bottle that, when sprayed on the skin, "calms, soothes, and softens."

    Guess what else? It's advertised as preservative-free!

    Instructions for use: Spray on skin, leave on for a few minutes, then pat dry. Use as often as needed.

    The bottled water industry seems more outrageous every day. But someone must be falling for this marketing. Peter Glieck just released a book that provides some insight. Check it out: Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water.