November 19, 2018

BY PAUL BOREHAM

Every day household use of bottled water is a waste on the pocketbook and it’s a kick in the teeth to the planet. Water is free from the tap, yet bottling companies have managed to persuade three out of 10 households to use their products. Sales rise each year.

Why? Municipal tap water has a bad reputation – there’s no doubt about it. Just look at the current situation in Flint, Mich. where residents are getting sick from their leaking lead pipes. In this country, boil water advisories happen all the time. And who can forget the tragedy in Walkerton in May 2000, when 2,300 residents fell ill and seven died from E. coli poisoning they got drinking from the tap? A reputation is spoiled easily and quickly.

Bottled water is free from that chemical taste often found in tap water, it’s a healthy alternative to high-sugar drinks and the pure convenience of the bottle makes it a sure seller. If it’s sold in stores, why not take advantage of it?

But there is quite a price to pay for all those benefits.

Companies either tap into the local municipal system (as in the case of Pepsi and its Aquafina bottled water), or pump untold gallons from underground aquifers, as is the case in Elora, where Nestle Canada wants to buy a property and pump 1.6 million gallons of water per day for their bottling operation in Aberfoyle. No wonder residents nearby are concerned.

The flimsy bottles are particularly wasteful. Each one takes an estimated three similar-sized bottles of water to make and one third of its contents of oil to produce and ship, according to some sources. The greenhouse gases burned in order to make it to stores is helping speed up global warming. Add to that the pile up of plastic in dumps and in the oceans and it spells a big unneeded mess. It doesn’t have to be.

If people don’t like the taste of tap water, or question its safety, a simple water filter and a reusable water bottle costs less than $50 and keeps on giving. A pitcher filter is as easy as they come, with tap water poured directly into it and stored in the fridge.

It’s hard witnessing a grocery cart loaded with bottled water get pushed to a checkout, knowing it is free at home. Where will all those bottles end up? Heaped against some fence?

There is a place for bottled water – emergencies. That section of the grocery store where they now reside should be vacated and replaced with … how about a selection of water filters and reusable bottles? Bottled water can be stored in the back.

Waterloo Region is just one of many municipalities and organizations to ban the sale of water in all of their facilities. “Municipal tap water is safe and clean to drink, a great value for your money, and a convenient and environmentally friendly choice,” it states on the Region’s website.

While there are a couple of water-filling stations at Conestoga’s Doon campus, bottled water is sold in vending machines and in the cafeterias. It’s time Conestoga joined the chorus and did the right thing: Ban the Bottle.

The views herein represent the position of the newspaper, not necessarily the author.

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