In an article published in a 2007 issue of the Air Canada in-flight magazine enRoute, their food critics put together a list of positive trends in the food industry. Next to the environmental benefits of blackboard menus, they listed the return of tap water as a great thing, saving them from having to spend money on expensive imported bottled water. To that, we’d like to add: tap water in Nova Scotia is s clean as bottled water. Maybe more so.
This is an idea that’s getting a lot of traction. Green tip website Ideal Bite reports that up to 40 percent of bottled water is, in fact, sourced from “regular old city water systems.” And, even if the water pouring out of your $3 plastic bottle is drawn from a pristine brook in Switzerland, where the only possible contamination is from strolling mountain goats, the carbon emissions and energy spent creating the plastic bottle, ozonating the water (to purify it), and shipping it to Atlantic Canada, far outweighs any health benefit.
And we haven’t even begun to talk about leeching. Yes, leeching, the freaky process by which potentially hazardous chemicals in the plastic (such as bisphenol-A, found in some hard plastic bottles with the recycling number 7 on them) find their way into the water if the plastic bottle is heated. Say, by the sun. Mountain Equipment Co-op pulled Nalgene polycarbonate bottles (no.7) off their shelves. Now Nalgene has announced this year it will begin to manufacture bottles without the nasty chemical.
Recommended instead are simple water filters on the kitchen tap at home to help remove any chlorine or pesticide residue that could get into city water, and carrying your *agua* around in glass, stainless steel or aluminum containers.
And we’re not the only ones saying this stuff. In May 2004 the HRM launched the H20! Program, to try and show how city water was as clean and healthy to drink as bottled water (with added fluoride for your teeth). How did they do it? By putting the Pockwock lake water---the same source as our tap water---in plastic 500ml bottles with a fancy H20 label on it. We get their point, but we’re happy that the initiative seems to be in the past, because, putting tap water in bottles to express how great tap water is? That’s just dumb.
And look at San Francisco, a city arguably doing more to be environmentally conscious than any other in North America. Its mayor, Gavin Newsom, banned the use of city funds to purchase single-serving bottled water, for all the reasons explained above.
And how about the United Church of Canada, urging all of its 590,000 members to stop buying bottled water? UCC social policy coordinator Richard Chambers told the Canadian Press “economic justice questions as well as environmental questions” related to bottled water were the reasons for the ban.