When it comes to finger pointing over California’s widespread drought, bottled water is an obvious target for criticism. Following polls showing widespread disapproval of companies that make bottled water a commodity in the drought-stricken state, Starbucks relocated operations of their brand Ethos Water, to Pennsylvania. While the gesture by Starbucks is commendable, other multinational corporations such as Nestle and Coca-Cola have no plans to uproot or displace their water bottling operations.
Now in its fourth year, the drought continues to spread and cause concern across the western United States. Despite the drought, bottled water production and consumption continues to grow. Using limited natural resources to package water in plastic and sell it for an inflated price is not only absurd, but contributes to the possibility of the worst fictional scenarios of a dystopian future.
The” bottled water czars” have contributed to speculative and widespread disinformation about the safety of tap water. In the United States, the water from our faucets is clean and safe and brought to us through systems that are some of the most incredible examples of human innovation in history. Bottled water is sold for between 500 to 1000 times more than tap water and despite conscious efforts to step up recycling, only about a third of plastic bottles are recycled in the U.S..
With it’s high cost, negative environmental impact, and no real necessity for its existence, why is bottled water so popular? Laziness is one reason because bottled water is undeniably convenient. The fear of what flows from our faucets is another trigger, but many different brands of filters are available for those who have heath concerns or just don’t trust the taste. The boycott of bottled water is far-fetched and unlikely, but seeking alternatives like boxed water or reusable water bottles like S’well is possible. Think about the alternative ways that the money spent on a bottled water could be used. Across the globe, nearly 800 million people lack access to clean water. Organizations like water.org and charitywater.org are doing great work bringing clean water to people in need. Consider the pollution and resource exhaustion the next time you reach for the scam that is bottled water.
Find out more about the long and tangled history of California’s water issues here.
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