Bad to the Last Drop
The New York Times - August 1, 2005
By Tom Standage
In 2004, Americans, on average, drank 24 gallons of bottled water ... This year, Americans will spend around $9.8 billion on bottled water...
... Much bottled water is ... derived from municipal water supplies ... In one study... researchers compared bottled water with tap water from Cleveland, and found that nearly a quarter of the samples of bottled water had significantly higher levels of bacteria.
... bottled water is bad for the environment. It is shipped at vast expense from one part of the world to another, is then kept refrigerated before sale, and causes huge numbers of plastic bottles to go into landfills.
|Of course, tap water is not so abundant in the developing world. And that is ultimately why I find the illogical enthusiasm for bottled water not simply peculiar, but distasteful. For those of us in the developed world, safe water is now so abundant that we can afford to shun the tap water under our noses, and drink bottled water instead: our choice of water has become a lifestyle option. For many people in the developing world, however, access to water remains a matter of life or death.|
More than 2.6 billion people, or more than 40 percent of the world's population, lack basic sanitation, and more than one billion people lack reliable access to safe drinking water. The World Health Organization estimates that 80 percent of all illness in the world is due to water-borne diseases, and that at any given time, around half of the people in the developing world are suffering from diseases associated with inadequate water or sanitation, which kill around five million people a year. ... One of the main reasons girls do not go to school in many parts of the developing world is that they have to spend so much time fetching water from distant wells.
Clean water could be provided to everyone on earth for an outlay of $1.7 billion a year beyond current spending on water projects ... Improving sanitation, which is just as important, would cost a further $9.3 billion per year. This is less than a quarter of global annual spending on bottled water.
The logical response, for those of us in the developed world, is to stop spending money on bottled water and to give the money to water charities.
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