Sunday, February 10, 2008

Water, Water Everywhere

I'm becoming more and more conscious of waste and misuse of our precious resources. So why should I be different from everyone else? Whole Foods is phasing out plastic bags -- I'm already trying to use my own bags. I try to follow all the recycling rules. I'm reconsidering light bulbs, I try not to drive too much, I'd like to be more responsible.

And the experts I read have recently been talking about the following resource question:

Why should anyone in a modern, first-world city drink bottled water?

Tap water is safe -- maybe safer than from a PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottle into whose contents this chemical is leaking. And the cost of the manufacturing, transportation (instead of through pipes), and disposal (mostly not recycled efficiently) of bottles is incredible. Here are a few shocking statistics from an article I just read today -- one of many:
It takes 162g of oil and seven litres of water (including power plant cooling water) just to manufacture a one-litre bottle, creating over 100g of greenhouse gas emissions (10 balloons full of CO2) per empty bottle. Extrapolate this for the developed world (2.4m tonnes of plastic are used to bottle water each year) and it represents serious oil use for what is essentially a single-use object. To make the 29bn plastic bottles used annually in the US, the world's biggest consumer of bottled water, requires more than 17m barrels of oil a year, enough to fuel more than a million cars for a year. (See It's just water, right? in the Guardian Online.)

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