Friday, April 11, 2008

Bottled Water and High Gas Prices

It seems kind of silly to complain about high gas prices if you also purchase bottled water.

A month ago, on NPR Science Friday, I listened in on an interview with various water experts about the current H20 crisis. Half-way through the interview they opened it up to callers with their questions. Unsurprisingly, someone asked about the ridiculous business of bottled water. It's ridiculous because of the cost we are willing to pay for the convenience of bottled water, ridiculous because of the environmental impact caused by the creation of, transportation of, and disposal of bottled water, and ridiculous because of the "fears and beliefs" people accept by which they buy bottled water in bulk.

The other night I went to Scotts and purchased a 24-pack of non-brand bottled water for $4. I brought them home, and for whatever reason began to feel guilt over my purchase. I pulled out our water utility bills from last year to figure out how much it would've cost me to fill 24 water bottles out of my tap. Based on my calculations, it would've cost me $.04 to fill all those bottles. I paid 100 times that amount for the convenience of someone else to reverse osmosis the water and put it in a yet unused plastic "disposable" bottle. That, my friends, is ridiculous.

According to the interview, it takes about four bottles of water to make one bottle of water: this includes making the bottle, purifying the water, and transporting the bottle. This is a waste of water for mere convenience. Considering the rapidly developing water crisis in the West, and the lack of clean drinking water in underdeveloped nations, what business do we have wasting water on bottled water?

What are the benefits of bottled water? The taste? The convenience? The health factor? All nonsense. Ridiculous. How hard is it for you to purchase your own reverse osmosis machine and wash out and reuse a fashionable water bottle? And the health factor? Most people are not going to get dehydrated throughout the day because they don't have a convienient disposable water bottle next to them every waking hour.

We would be less reliant on foreign oil if we quit using plastic water bottles at the rate we do. We'd have lower gas prices too. And our budget would ironically be freed up to better accommodate rising gas prices.

But of course, who in their right mind would want to live life less conveniently?


sdennie said...

Very nice discussion of the bottled water issue. Pam and I drink Ice Mountain all the time. I've been wondering about it lately. The cost comparison is rather startling. -- Steve

Dwight Knowlton said...

Yes. YES! There was a phenominaly informative article on the subject in Fast Company several months ago ( Of the many unbelievable truths was the fuel consuption delivering "premium" water to retail (across the ocean in diesel ships, then across the nation in HALF FULL - due to the weight of water - big rigs).

Aside: Leaving this comment was, in itself, and inconvenience.