By now we've all heard about the unnecessary burden bottled water puts on the environment. Still, I most of us probably continue to drink it. It has become fairly common knowledge that tap water, which must be rigorously tested and treated, is typically cleaner than bottled water, which has much more lax regulations. Still, Americans continue to buy it. The most common excuse is that it's just more convenient, and this is true; it's easier to just grab a bottle of water on your way out the door than to pour yourself a glass of tap water. But, as our guest lecturer pointed out on Monday, the plastic used to make bottled water comes from petroleum. Not only that, but these plastic bottles are extremely non-biodegradable, and tax our landfills.
If American citizens don't care enough to stop drinking bottled water, someone else will have to step in and try and resolve the issue. Thankfully, some people are paying attention. According to an article by Julie Knapp, on http://www.tapitwater.com, the state legislature of North Carolina has, effective as of October 1, banned the deposition of "all rigid plastic containers, including plastic water bottles, in their landfills." She says state officials are optimistic this will encourage people to recycle their plastic bottles. This after "nearly 7 billion pounds of plastic bottles were dumped in landfills nationwide" in 2007. In addition to increasing plastic recycling, I think this new law will cause North Carolina's residents to think more carefully about buying bottles water in general. If they're going to have put in extra effort to get rid of their plastic trash, they'll probably try to avoid amounting such trash in the first place. Instead of grabbing a bottle of water on their way out the door, maybe now they'll just fill up a Nalgene bottle from the tap and take that with them.
London city officials are also taking measures to cut down on plastic bottle waste. London's bus and railway stations have recently been equipped with water refilling stations known as "Hydrachills". For the cost of about 30 US cents, people can refill any bottle they have with them with cool, clean water. According to Hydrachill's website (http://www.hydra-chill.com/), all proceeds will benefit an environmental charity known as Waste Watch. With these Hydrachill stations, London's residents and tourists can save themselves money that would have been spent on another bottle of water, while reducing plastic waste.
I think both of these initiatives, particularly the introduction of Hydrachill, are steps in the right direction. If most people are going to continue to rely on the convenience of bottled water, the government is going to have to either provide a comparable alternative, or draw up legislature to help save us from ourselves.