Actions to promote tap over bottled water are spreading across the globe.
Restaurants in California, Oregon, New York, Maine, and other states are serving only tap water. Students at Brown University were inspired to start Beyond the Bottle after Washington University in St. Louis ended sales of bottled water on its campus.
Seattle University and Gonzaga University in Washington state, and the University of Portland in Oregon, have also ended sales of bottled water. Multnomah County became the first county in Oregon to ban bottled water from county meetings and functions. Efforts to prevent a bottling company from extracting millions of liters of water from the local aquifer led the city of Bundanoon, Australia, to ban the sale and production of bottled water. Toronto, London, and other cities in Ontario, Canada as well as school boards in Ottawa and Waterloo have stopped the sale of bottled water in municipal facilities.
Bottled water is marketed as superior to tap, but public water supplies are actually cleaner, less expensive, and more environmentally responsible, according to organizations like Take Back the Tap, Food and Water Watch, and Stop Corporate Abuse. They are mounting campaigns to combat misconceptions caused by bottled-water marketing.
EPA tap water regulations are more rigorous and require more disclosure than FDA bottled water regulations, according to a 2009 Government Accountability Office report. The cost of bottled water can run 10,000 times more than tap. An estimated 25 percent of bottled waters, often marketed as spring water or mineral water, comes from public tap water.
According to the Pacific Institute, the 38 billion plastic bottles
sold in 2005 used 900,000 tons of plastic, which required more than 1.7
million barrels of oil for transport. More than 75 percent of discarded
water bottles end up in landfills where they take up to 1,000 years to
Tiffany Ran wrote this article for What Happy Families Know, the Winter 2011 issue of YES! Magazine. Tiffany is an editorial intern at YES! Magazine.
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