Stop Drinking Bottled Water

The reason you should boycott bottled water is because it enables a bullshit, backwards vision for society.

Boycotting bottled water means you support the idea that public access to clean, safe water is not only a basic human right, but that it's a goddamn technological triumph worth protecting. It means you believe that ensuring public access to this resource is the only way to guarantee it will be around in a few more years.

Clean, safe drinking water that flows freely out of our faucets is a feat of engineering that humans have been been perfecting for two millennia. It is a cornerstone of civilization. It is what our cities are built upon. And over the years the scientists and hydrologists and technicians who help get water to our houses have also become our environmental stewards, our infrastructural watchdogs, our urban visionaries. Drinking the water these people supply to our homes is the best possible way to protect future access to water worldwide.

Companies that package water in a single-use bottle are not concerned with the future. They are not invested in the long-term effects of climate change on an endangered watershed, nor are they working to prepare a megacity for an inevitable natural disaster. What they are interested in is their bottom line: Marketing a "healthy" product to compensate for the fact that people are buying less of their other products that are known to case obesity and diabetes -- and selling it for at prices that are 240 to 10,000 times higher than what you pay for tap water.

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35 Responses:

  1. Matthew Lock says:

    Bottled water is just a drink sold in a shop like soda or beer. It's existence and sale doesn't threaten public water supplies or faucets. Get a grip!

  2. Fer says:

    Even if first world countries generally have non-unhealthy tap water, in some particular cities it just tastes disgusting, has funky smells and/or is so hard you that can feel your kidney building rocks up.

    I agree that it's overproduced and overbought, but it's a necessary evil.

    • jwz says:

      If only the linked article was loaded with footnotes addressing what you just said. Oh wait...

      • Fer says:

        Yeah, filters can work for medium to high hardness, but where I leave the hardness is just too much for any economical and non-chemical method to lower it.

        We have a high end pitcher with filters that run for €1.5 a pop, and after 3 fillings we have to replace the filter because it gets clogged with lime. Our teapot has an embedded filter; that one gets clogged every 6 cups of tea.

        If you have any suggestion for daily filtering of hard water of around 500mg of CaO3 per liter, I'm all ears.

      • Rick C says:

        In Dallas, the water comes from man-made lakes and is full of some kind of nasty something, that's worse than anywhere else I've ever lived (All over New England and New York, DC, South Carolina, 3 different parts of Florida, Wisconsin, and a week in Phoenix). All those places, you could get by just fine with a Brita pitcher or the like even if from the tap it tasted bad.

        Not Dallas water. It's actually _vile_, even refrigerated. Filtering Dallas water doesn't actually work. If you want to get rid of the swampy taste, you have to actually filter it at least twice. And then at the start of every rainy season (twice a year), when the (shallow) lakebeds get roiled, even that's not enough.

        • Pavel Lishin says:

          Second; Dallas tap water is fucking disgusting when the lake turns, and it kind of makes me wonder if that's why I drank so much soda as a kid.

  3. robert_ says:

    The story of Dasani bottled water in the UK. Quite the giggle.

  4. Gabriel says:

    Gee, this author chose an awfully confrontational way to get their point across.

    Oh, it's Gizmodo. I guess that answers the question "is it genuine or a troll?"

  5. Nic says:

    when it is a basic thing, you don't have to mention it.

    Lots of unfairness in the world, but I don't want to live nor read about places where there is a campaign for 'not shooting children' or other form of victimized bs.

    At your discharge, that seems to be the current trend in the sad part of the world.

  6. Jim says:

    Flouridation of tap water threatens to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids.

  7. lbert says:

    Do you know how much public water has been extracted from the ground by a huge and faceless foreign corporation and placed into a single-use container to make a pint of beer? That's right, a pint.

    • tobias says:

      i don't know how much brewing you have done but there is a lot of water used in cleaning containers too.

  8. Dunkirk says:

    I find this to be insightful commentary America's obsession with the stuff:

  9. Kyzer says:

    While I agree people should stop drinking bottled water (just drink out of the tap, it's better and cheaper; take a water bottle with you), the context for this article, the reason bottled water is newsworthy, is the Californian drought and Nestle's water bottling plants.

    90% of California's water is used for agricultural and environmental purposes. Everything you urban Californians do with the water (showering in it, flushing your poop with it, drinking it, bottling it for pennies and selling it for dollars, etc.) is in the remaining 10%. You could try and convince millions of your fellow urbanites to feel bad and be parsimonious in their water consumption. You could get journalists to vilify the bottled water people (it's Nestle! They already kill babies. Bottling water is the least evil thing they do). At best you might reduce the urban water usage by 5%, which would be 0.5% of the actual total.

    Or, and I know this sounds crazy, you could raise the cost of water for Californian industry. It wouldn't bankrupt the bottled water people, they have fat margins and ultimately don't consume much. It would bankrupt a lot of farmers, which would stop them from doing their farming, and then you'd have a lot more water to go around. It would fuck your economy, but you wouldn't have a drought. Which is more important, money or water?

    Farmers and their trade associations want you to get all fired about about those evil bastards selling bottled water. How dare they! Think of all that locked-up water! Don't think about all the locked-up water in alfalfa beans or almonds or the goddamn rice the Californian farmers are selling to the Chinese, because that makes them rich.

    • Leonardo Herrera says:

      It would bankrupt a lot of farmers, which would stop them from doing their farming, and then you'd have a lot more water to go around. It would fuck your economy, but you wouldn't have a drought. Which is more important, money or water?

      I think the most important question is if California being an agricultural state makes sense. Farmers get quite a lot in subsidized money; and land value is quite high, so perhaps shifting the economy towards (say) hi-tech may make sense.

      Of course, I have no idea of what I'm talking about, I'm just part of the peanut gallery.

      • db48x says:

        The flip side of the coin is that there's only a finite amount of arable land in the world. Build cities on it and it won't be arable any more.

    • tobias says:

      if nestle bottle water in california before selling it to californians, it is also industrial/agricultural use. i agree that the 10/90 split is probably correct. but beyond a certain level of scrutiny accounting for allocations is a full time job.

  10. nooj says:

    We have an all-day festival here, where you're only allowed two sealed bottles of water per person. (Well, per person per entry.) Actually, all the major gated events have that restriction now. For most events, that rule is bullshit, because they just want to sell you water bottles for $3 apiece.

    But the point is that this festival has a CamelBak booth with about twenty water guns that will fill up any bottle with cold water, as often as you want, all day long. They supply is the city's tap water (donated by the city) and the labor is by volunteers who get a free festival entry (donated by the festival). The cost of the station is probably covered by profits from selling CamelBaks at the adjoining table.

    The water guns pictured basically run full blast all day long, and if I recall correctly, served something like 25,000 gallons of water per day.

    • jwz says:

      The festivals here have water stations, too. It's the new feel-good thing to do, like having some schmuck spend six hours telling you which trash can to use in exchange for their ticket. (They call them "trash talkers", which is kinda funny.)

  11. MetaRZA says:

    The thing is that bottled water isn't about hydration or health. Bottled water is a fashion accessory. You might as well write an article complaining people wearing their pants to low, their cap on backwards or having their underwear visible.

  12. nooj says:

    I find it interesting that counter-service restaurants and bars give out tiny little water cups and larger, more durable soda cups, as if drinking water is not encouraged.

    Is there a useful way to incentivize restaurants to make drinking tap water more sexy? Is water intake at restaurants a significant support of public drinking water?

    • jwz says:

      It's because those cups cost money. The cups cost more than the soda. The water is free.

      • tobias says:

        those businesses more than likely pay water rates, or don't you?

        • Around here (Los Angeles) tap water costs about $4-6 per hundred cubic feet (residential rates at the low end, commercial at the high end). That's about half a penny per gallon, or around three hundredths of a cent per 8-oz cup. The several pennies of labor cost for 20 seconds of "I'd like a water cup, please" "Here you go" swamp that.

          • tobias says:

            very interesting thank you for the information, unfortunately i have nothing to add.

    • I suspect the restaurant is just trying to make paid look different than unpaid beverages. More for people trying to cheat.

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