Bottled Water Backlash

Eugene Weekly, Camilla Mortensen, Aug 2007

There's "water, water everywhere" but is any of it environmentally sustainable to drink? The most recent backlash against the bottled water industry is the revelation that Pepsi's Aquafina and Coke's Dasani bottled water are actually tap water. Pepsi, whose previous Aquafina slogan was "So pure, we promise nothing," has begun a campaign to heighten its "7-step purification process" and downplay its new tap water image. Pepsi has agreed to include the words "public water source" on Aquafina labels.

The bottled water backlash has also involved the revelation that bottled water is no healthier than tap water. A study put out by the Natural Resources Defense Council showed that while the Environmental Protection Agency demands that big city tap water be tested 100 times or more a month for bacteria, the Food and Drug Administration demands only weekly testing for bottled water. Yet consumers pay more per gallon for bottled water than they do for gasoline.

Even bottled water from "natural springs" has its problems. A popular water like Evian, which comes from source near Lake Geneva in Central Europe, must be transported thousands of miles to get to consumers in the U.S. Making the bottles themselves also uses massive amounts of fossil fuels - enough to fuel 100,000 cars for a year, according to the Earth Policy Institute.

But just when you thought the safest and most eco-friendly thing to do was carry your tap water (Eugene's comes from the McKenzie River) in one of those ubiquitous Nalgene bottles, think again.

Although a panel convened by the National Toxicology Program downplayed the possible danger of a compound called bisphenol A (BPA) found in plastics used to make Nalgene bottles as well as baby bottles, other scientists disagree.

An independent panel of scientists concluded that BPA, which is now found in the blood of most Americans, may play a role in "prostate and breast cancer, uro-genital abnormalities in male babies, a decline in semen quality in men, early onset of puberty in girls, metabolic disorders including insulin-resistant (type 2) diabetes and obesity, and neurobehavioral problems such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder."

Aside from water bottles, BPA is also found in products ranging from dental fillings to Coca-Cola containers. An article at Green Guide ( www.thegreenguide.com/doc/114/bpa) gives hints about avoiding BPA, such as washing a Nalgene bottle by hand and not in the dishwasher and not using bottles that are cracked or cloudy. Drink up! - Camilla Mortensen

 


How to Choose and Use Better Plastics
( Green Guide 114 | May/June 2006 )

Check recycling codes on the bottoms of containers.

Worst

Better

Best
None of the following plastics have been shown to leach carcinogens or endocrine disrupters.

For an alternative to plastic,

try the Thermos Stainless Steel Beverage Bottle #2550. With a stainless-steel exterior and interior, it keeps beverages cold or soups, coffee and tea hot 10 times longer than plastic bottles Or try Sigg 's .6-liter Oval Traveler Reusable Bottle in stainless steel ($19.95, 888-707-3873).

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