Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bottled Water: The Fickle Winds of Political Correctness

In today’s Marquette Tribune, columnist Eric Lombardi explains the “Dark Side of Bottled Water.”
But the truth is that there is a dark side to the booming bottled water industry. The following facts have been acquired from the National Resources Defense Council, Earth Policy Institute, National Geographic and Time Magazine. Make up your own mind about their validity and what we should do about them.

America’s consumption of bottled water has increased at least 9.5 percent every year for the last three years. Americans now consume more than 35 gallons of bottled water per person every year, which has increased since 18 gallons in 2001.

Bottled water sales now cost Americans just under $15 billion a year, a number that was $6.86 billion in 2000.

The NRDC estimates that 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide is generated each year, which is equal to the annual emissions of 7,000 cars, by importing bottled water from Fiji, France and Italy (the three biggest suppliers to the U.S.)

In its 5,500 mile flight from Fiji to Los Angeles a case of 20 bottles of Fiji water produces nearly 7 lbs. of greenhouse gases.

It takes more than 17 million barrels of crude oil to manufacture the 29 billion plastic bottles used for water in the United States each year. Moreover, when you add in the energy used for pumping and processing, transportation and refrigeration the U.S. burns more than 50 million barrels of fossil fuels each year - this is enough to run three million cars for an entire year.

According to the Environmental Protection Institute, more than 2.7 million tons of plastic used to bottle each year. Combine this with the fact that the Container Recycling Institute in Washington, D.C. nearly 86 percent of plastic water bottles in the U.S. become garbage and the fact that plastic bottles can take between 400 and 1,000 years to degrade.
We in fact blogged on this in May of last year.

At the time, trendy establishment in San Francisco were turning against what was once a trademark of the yuppie lifestyle.

So we guess Milwaukee is about eight months behind San Francisco.

If that sounds like a slam against Milwaukee, remember that Milwaukee was at least that far (and indeed probably a few years) behind San Francisco in adopting the notion that water shipped in from some foreign country is better than water that comes out of the tap.

Of course, the turn against bottled water isn’t just the result of increased ecological consciousness. As Salon.com put it:
Bottled water’s swift transformation from glass-encased luxury good to déclassé, plastic-wrapped menace was entirely predictable. Over the past century, we’ve seen numerous examples of products that, so long as they were available only to a select few, were viewed by those elites as brilliant, life-improving developments: the automobile, coal-generated electricity, air conditioning. But once companies figured out how to make them available to the masses, the elites suddenly condemned them as dangerous and socially destructive. So long as only a few people were drinking Evian, Perrier, and San Pellegrino, bottled water wasn’t perceived as a societal ill. Now that everybody is toting bottles of Poland Spring, Aquafina, and Dasani, it’s a big problem.
We will continue to drink water out of the tap, buy coffee at George Webb’s and drive a Ford Focus.

And we’ll continue to chortle at people who are trendy and politically correct. Changing fashions are likely to leave them high and dry.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It makes common sense that more people are switching to water as it is a healthier alternative to soda.

You can stretch that environmental narrative as much as you like. But, don't be surprised when it snaps.

12:59 PM  

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