Bottled water: an unnecessary luxury

The story goes that two Frenchmen were trying to find a way to make some money. So one said, “Hmmm….let’s bottle water and sell it….” “WHAT?!” said the second guy, “Who would buy that?!” And thus came the reply, “…The Americans!” And the rest is history. For the most part, America’s a pretty swell place to live. Even in its undesirable present situation, America is still a land known for its freedom and opportunity. Even a lowly high school student like myself can speak out and be heard. Unfortunately, America’s abundance of…everything…has also caused its people to take many things for granted. Public libraries provide free books and videos. Parks and playgrounds are open to all non-child-molesters. Water fountains are as common as saturated fat. If people in America die from anything, it’s not from a lack of clean water. It seems like common sense to me, to get water for free from water fountains or the tap, yet for some reason Americans find the need to buy water. Really? Does Aquafina have amazing, unforeseen benefits? Will Fiji Water help me lose weight? Or is it because of the prettily packaged earth-destroying bottles? Whatever the reason, it seems America loves its water in bottles more than any other country. China, with a population about three times that of the U.S., is only third in its consumption of bottled water. Unlike China or even France, America has water fountains everywhere, and thus I can find no adequate reason for buying bottled water. One could argue that bottled water is a great thing to have in certain situations (like camping…or going for a stroll in the desert) but in America, bottled water is bought for its convenience. Have you ever stopped to count the number of bottles you’ve casually tossed away? Ever think about where it ended up? The truth is if you didn’t recycle it, it’s probably still around, and could possibly have injured a small mammal in some gruesome way (I don’t actually know how, use your imagination). There is a swirling vortex of plastic pieces (the North Pacific Gyre; it actually has a name) about the size of Texas in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Plastic is not naturally biodegradable and so this floating mass of pollution continues to grow all because we buy water. In bottles. And even if you do recycle your bottles, do you enjoy those trips? Do you love to pretend you’re Santa with a large trash bag of bottles slung over your shoulder? If this describes you, then keep buying that bottled water; it’s helping our economy and it won’t harm our environment. Kudos to you. If however you are not a Santa wannabe, then you should consider curbing your appetite for bottle-flavored water. Tap water may not come in attractive packaging but it should serve you well. Besides being easily portable and having a couple extra minerals, bottled water really doesn’t have any perks. Most of the time it doesn’t even taste as good as tap or fountain water. Because there’s only so much you can do to water and still have it taste like water, 90% of the manufacturing costs are spent on the bottle, label and cap. Next time you’re at a vending machine, just be aware that 90% of the $1.25 you spend is on the packaging. When you really think about it, you could spend that money on so many other things. But the fact that we are buying water in bottles when there are clean and ready sources seems almost a crime. Our convenience-based way of life has led to unnecessary waste and unthinking consumerism. My ultimate goal is not to bring about the downfall of bottled water companies; it is merely to raise awareness of an easily fixable problem. This argument may not hold true in third-world countries, where the struggle to find usable water is a real and urgent problem and water in any form is welcome, but America is hardly a third-world country. However, if your life feels incomplete without a bottle of water at your side, then consider investing in an environmentally friendly reusable water bottle.