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Home / Articles / Views / The Highroad /  Let's chuck the bottle
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Thursday, January 7,2010

Let's chuck the bottle

By Jim Hightower

Bottled pollution.

I know we’re a nation of inveterate consumers, but who would buy pollution in a bottle?

Well, millions of Americans do, to the tune of $11 billion-worth a year. That’s the size of the bottled water industry in our country, dominated by such giants as Nestle and Coca-Cola. But wait, shriek industry PR flacks, our product is pure goodness, not pollution, what are you talking about?!

Start with the little-reported fact that bottled water can contain a toxic mix of industrial chemicals never tested for safety. Also, many tests of bottled water are done by the corporations themselves, rather than by independent, certified labs, and even when contaminants are found, the marketers do not have to tell consumers or public officials about them. Chances are that your city’s tap water, which is inspected several times daily, is at least as pure, and often more so, than the pricey stuff in bottles.

Speaking of bottles, both the production and disposal of billions of tons of these throwaways is a pollution nightmare. The Environmental Working Group, for example, has revealed an area of the Pacific Ocean that amounts to a massive plastic water bottle dump that is twice the size of Texas! You can’t throw water bottles away — because there is no “away.”

Then there’s the absurdly huge carbon footprint created by hauling bottled water back and forth across our country, not to mention across oceans, bringing water all the way from France or Fiji. If you need a textbook example of energy absurdity, try this: New York water is trucked to California, and California water is trucked to New York.

The good news is us: consumers! Individuals, companies, restaurants, cities, states and other entities are chucking the bottle, ending their silly addiction to a totally unnecessary source of pollution and waste. To join the effort, go to www.takebackthetap. org.

For more information on Jim Hightower’s work — and to subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown — visit www.jimhightower.com.
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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Let get rid of everything. Soda, Bottled water, juice. We don't need an economy of producers. We need an economy of farmers. Hec lets get rid of IBM. They produce too much paper.... Matt

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
By focusing on water bottle waste we are missing the bigger picture. Education is lacking in this article. The focus should be encouraging the improvment of recycling strategies and making it easier for the everyday person to recycle. Many things can be made out of recycled goods if it were availble. Clothing is made from those darn water bottles by the way... Let's give incentives business that use recycled materials and encourage research of how to increase recycled material in our consumer products. In emergencies, you will be glad for your bottled water supply ... If you want to bash soemthing, why not talk about how we continue to allow the building of huge housing developments that are not self sustainable or at last partially self sustainable? This perpetuates the increase in need for energy and water that is already limited. This We continue to build these developements and then cut off the farmers water supplies. How will we feed everyone in these develoments if we send the water to the houses and cut off the farmers...good grief people...lets work together here..

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT

Jim - thank you for your concise critique.

the next step in behavior modification is to engage Coca-Cola, Safeway, Nestle, Wal-Mart to initiate sustainable practices with a social conscience.

The first corporate behemoth to step first will illustrate their commitment to the Green Revolution even at the expense of loss of profit.

I have contacted Food and Water Watch to get their take on this strategy and their priorities are elsewhere.

Perhaps YOU could reach a corporate board unlike myself.

Cheers to suggesting we take bold steps.

IN FACT, I envision consumers travelling with their SIERRA CUP - just like one can pays less for a refill at a gas station with their previously purchased plastic cup - we do the same for water FILTERED ON SITE.

No transportation needed.

Your thoughts?

Mark Solomons

lukeshiva@gmail.com

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Great article Jim- My staff and I at ClearH2O Coolers are trying to put an end to plastic bottles throughout Boulder and Denver. Go Green Go Bottle-less. Dan, www.clearh2ocoolers.com

 

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jbs
Wow, Jim. Have you no sense of fairness much less a respect for facts? Bottled water is a highly regulated and tested food product. Furthermore, If there was really "pollution" in bottled water, don't you think there would be legions of lawsuits against bottled water companies? BTW, the Earth Watch Group, which you cite also has a warning on their site about poor quality tap water. Did you fail to read that information? Geez . . . .

 

 
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