Thursday, October 9, 2008

Plastic water bottles

I just got back from a conference in Phoenix on obesity. It's hard to live environmentally on the road. I used way more disposable dishes than I would have liked. I ate more meat than I would have liked, and I was in Phoenix where everything is air conditioned all the time.

There were also a couple of things that I felt went well. I did a lot of walking and carpooling and I shared a room with others. The big thing was that I never bought a disposable water bottle. That is one of my new goals in life, not buy disposable water bottles. In fact, I'm going to make a valiant attempt to not buy any beverages in disposable containers. They are extremely wasteful. Some people pay more per gallon for water than they do for gasoline. And they could be getting the water for free or virtually free from a tap. To exemplify this point, the hotel I was staying in had a 1 quart bottle of water in the room for the bargain price of $5.25.

So why is bottled water so bad? It's not so much that the water is bad, or that it's overpriced; the problem is the container and the fact that the container makes it portable. They use petroleum to make the plastic containers that will later just be thrown away or 'down-cycled'. Then with the new container, they use mass amounts of petroleum to ship it around the world providing over-priced water in petroleum packaging. It gives everyone the convenient opportunity to pay more to pollute the world when they could simply fill a glass with water from the tap for a very low price. Or you could even go to a public drinking fountain, forgo the glass and have free water.

The funny thing is that 40% of bottled water is tap water put into a bottle and even the really expensive bottled water can't be distinguished from tap water in taste tests. Do the world a favor, stop drinking out of plastic bottles.

Oh, and if you have a Nalgene bottle, I learned at the obesity conference that the bisphenol A that can leach from Nalgene bottles and other plastics is associated with obesity (as well as other issues such as cancer, etc.). My family has moved to stainless steel and glass for our drinking pleasures.

The Woulfes just commented that they thought that the Nalgene bottle thing was silly and there are many other things that cause obesity to a greater extent than bisphenol A. Eating too much, for example, causes obesity. I agree with the Woulfes completely, but I thought it was interesting that there was any link at all between plastic bottles and obesity, so it tied in well. Getting rid of Nalgene bottles would be a very poor weight loss method.

3 comments:

The Woulfes said...

hmmm...while I'm sure that massively high doses of BPA in rats causes issues, I think that sitting on my couch watching TV drinking out of a stainless steel bottle makes me more obese then drinking out of a Nalgene in between bike workouts :) jus say'n...not sure that the trace amounts of BPA justify tossing the Nalgene just yet.

those SIGG bottles are expensive too...20something bucks at REI the last time i was in.

The clear sided nalgene makes it easier to fill up at soda fountains as well since the cashier can clearly see how much liquid you put in...

Emily A. W. said...

Awhile back the mayor of Seattle banned bottled water in the city or in the city offices or something. He said he was doing it to save the environment. I thought he was crazy. But, now I know he made sense.Thanks for the information.

The Woulfes said...

of course...today i find this article in my newsgator inbox

http://www.grist.org/news/2008/10/09/bpa/index.html?source=rss

maybe I should switch...

anyway, learn anything else interesting at the conference where I can respond and put my foot in my mouth?