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During my sophomore year of college, I spent four months studying in France. I had to make many language and cultural adjustments, but one of the biggest surprises was the general lack of public water fountains. As I journeyed across Europe on weekends and vacations, I learned the necessity of carrying a bottle of water. Back home in the U.S., more people than ever are buying bottled water. Even in these difficult economic times, Americans purchase 500 million bottles of water every week! And this is despite the fact that we have near universal access to clean water in the United States (a blessing not afforded to more than a billion of our global neighbors). So why exactly is bottled water so bad? Here are just a few of the many reasons to avoid purchasing bottled water:

• Bottled water costs around 2,000 times more than tap water. As Annie Leonard of www.storyofstuff.com points out, that’s like paying $10,000 for a sandwich

• Much of the bottled water on the market today (including Pepsi’s Aquafina and Coca-Cola’s Dasani) is nothing more than filtered tap water

• 2.5 million plastic bottles are thrown into the landfill every hour

• Studies have shown that bottled water is no healthier than tap water in the U.S.

• Over 47 million gallons of oil are used per year to produce bottled water

• Currently only 10% – 20% of water bottles are recycled

• Manufacturers must use an additional 5 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water

My lesson learned traveling the trains of Europe has stuck with me. Anytime our family leaves the house for more than an hour we bring a reusable water bottle (or two or three) with us. When eating out we use our own water bottles when possible, and ask for tap water in nice restaurants where pulling out our Nalgenes might be frowned upon. If we forget, we try to use water fountains. If you want to filter your water, keep a pitcher in the frig and refill it frequently. While it may seem like a small matter whether your family uses tap vs. bottled water, remember this—using tap water both saves money and helps take care of God’s creation.

 


Brian Webb serves as the Director of Educational Programs for Blessed Earth and is passionate about helping people connect their faith with God’s call to care for his creation. He lives with his wife, Becky, and daughters, Acadia (“Cadie”) and Galilee (“Lilee”), in western New York where he also serves as the Director of Intercultural Student Programs at Houghton College.

 

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