Water: All Bottled Up

Water: All Bottled Up

Susan Cosier
Published: 03/26/2010
Earlier this week, people around the planet celebrated World Water Day, a UN holiday meant to bring attention to the importance of H2O. This year the celebration coincided with the release of Annie Leonard’s newest video, “The Story of Bottled Water,” part of The Story of Stuff Project. (Check out our Q&A with her here.) The flick explains (with cartoons!) why it’s better for people lucky enough to live where clean water abounds to bypass the plastic and drink from the tap.
 
The trend of buying water in plastic bottles seems to be waning, yet go to any supermarket and you’ll still see the shelves stacked with those clear containers filled with the elixir of life. In the US, we use half a billion, (yes, that’s billion with a “b”) plastic water bottles a week. Another shocker is that a third of the water poured into those vessels actually comes from tap.
 
The lessons in Leonard’s movie can be a bit difficult to swallow if you’re used to buying a bottle when you’re parched and don’t have the slightest clue where to find the closest bubbler, but she has a point. And it’s not the first time someone has made it. In her 2008 book, Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It, Elizabeth Royte goes to Fryeburg, Maine, where Poland Spring water originates. She finds that the industry “threatens local control of a natural resource and litters the landscape with plastic waste,” her website reads.
 
So, if you didn’t participate in a World Water Day event this year, try celebrating another way. Leonard suggests sipping from a reusable container and keeping an eye out for nearby water fountains. Maybe someone will even develop an iPhone app that will call up the closest drinking spout. Any takers?