An AFP story written by Claire Gallen is just one of a number of recent stories condemning this nation’s consumption of bottled water. Actually, the focus is not as much on the water as it is on the plastic bottles themselves (although, the environmental costs of transporting water over large distances is also a significant issue). Not only do the plastic bottles contribute significantly to the landfills, but they are a petroleum product, themselves.
Our household notices our impact on the environment and finds ways to “reduce, reuse, and recycle”. We will occasionally purchase bottled water when we have not planned well in advance. Believe me, we don’t take too kindly to spending $1-$3 for a half liter of water when we could have planned ahead and carried it ourself for a negligible cost. We will reuse that bottle. Our refrigerator contains 3-4 bottles of water of various sizes that we have filled from our tap so that we can “grab and go”. When the useful life of the bottle has ended, (usually well beyond what health officials will recommend) it goes into our recycling bin. Our household recycles more “trash” than what we send to the landfill.
It seems to me that for many, the convenience of the bottled water is its greatest advantage, and where consumers will resist change. This is where the bottled water companies have gotten it right. We don’t plan ahead. The cost is within the range of what most people will count as “free” or inconsequential. The packaging is highly portable and will not spill. Why … it even feels good and natural in the hand.
Our congregation has contributed to this problem. We’ve distributed 10,000 bottles in our community over the past several years. It is a significant outreach tool for us. Maybe it is time to re-think what we are doing.