Hydrate or Die!: For a Healthier Planet and You

Walking out to the Ames High courtyard to meet with friends for lunch is daily practice for junior Tess Haverkamp. “I like eating out here because there’s sunshine, grass, there’s less people, and no freshmen. Well, there isn’t supposed to be, but there are,” Haverkamp said. However, when forgetting to pack a drink for lunch recently, Haverkamp had to make a decision: “ Do I buy a bottle of water or look for the closest drinking fountain?” Water fountains tend to get a bad rap, so getting a drink with a few tag-along germs was no longer an option. Without any other reasonable alternatives, she went to a nearby vending machine to quench her thirst. Because of the handy portability and availability of disposable water bottles, it is easier to spend a buck and drink it on the go. Disposable water bottles are so common and popular that bottled water has become the face of an environmental and human health scare. According to a recent advertisement by Brita’s filterforgood.com, the United States used over 39 billion disposable plastic bottles in 2009, which is equivalent to circling the Earth over 190 times. Brita also reported that one disposable bottle uses 2,000 times more energy to produce than tap water. Because of the great need for production and energy usage, bottled water has also developed as a large part on the U.S. economy. As reported by the World Wildlife Foundation, bottled water is the most dynamic market of any food and beverage industry, resulting in a purchase of $15 billion nation wide in 2006. This figure was more than what was spent on iPods and movie tickets combined in the same year. The leaders of the beverage market, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo., both have their own brands of purified water: Dasani and Aquafina, respectively. However, both companies have taken steps to reduce the amount of plastic in their packaging. The reuse of disposable bottles can cause great health problems for individuals. In the late 1990s, France banned the sale of these bottles in the country because of the possible link to a decreasing national birth rate. When disposable bottles are reused, chemicals leach out into the water that may cause reproductive problems in humans. BPA, phthalates, and other unknown chemicals disrupt estrogen and other reproductive hormones in women, which may lead breast cancer and obesity, according to a study by Discovery News. BPA is also linked to an increase in testosterone in men. One of the simplest ways students can avoid hurting the environment and being affected by the harsh chemicals that are connected to disposable bottles is to purchase a BPA-free reusable bottle. When walking down any hallway of Ames High, a few brightly colored CamelBak, Nalgene or Klean Kanteen reusable water bottles can be spotted. Along with Silly Bandz and tie-dye t-shirts, the hard-plastic or stainless steel water bottle seems to be a common item among Ames High students. Haverkamp initially bought her Nalgene reusable water bottle for backpacking trips, “but I now use it everyday because it’s durable and reusable. I use it for cross country after school, and it holds a lot of water, so I can drink more water.” CamelBak’s Hydrate or Die! slogan can go further than just staying hydrated. One must hydrate his/herself by using a BPA-free reusable bottle or the Earth and the body might suffer. A booming beverage industry along with the popularity and handiness of the disposable plastic bottle has allowed it to maintain its spot in the American way of life, so it’s likely that it won’t be going away anytime soon. However, new and innovative ways of producing energy and the ideas of up and coming generations have power to change the norms of the United States. The objective of Brita’s Filter for Good campaign is to “raise awareness of simple changes everyone can make to live eco-friendly lives,” and to help “improve the environment one bottle at a time, by staying hydrated with filtered water and a reusable bottle instead of disposable bottled water.” Brita has teamed up with Jack Johnson and the Dave Matthews Band to spread the word about Filter for Good ’s goal. Visit http://www.filterforgood.com/ for more information and to take the pledge.