This past week, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order to ban the purchase of plastic water bottles with city funds. Whooot whooo! Yay! Way to go, Mayor Newsom! San Fran is really impressing me these days.
Newsom's regulation is part of San Francisco's crusade to incite environmental action among its (already well greenified) citizens. The bottled water ban encourages the people-by-the-bay to use tap water and stop fueling the unsustainable and environmentally irresponsible bottled-water industry.
For starters, water bottles are made from petroleum and gas fossil fuel. Unless you've been living in the White House, you probably know these are depleting natural resources, instigating some nasty tensions amongst nations.
Plastic bottle production guzzles more oil than a monster truck in Daytona, while transporting bottles burns thousands more gallons of oil. Only 10 percent of plastic bottles get recycled; the other 90 percent spending the next thousand years in our overcrowded landfill.
To add insult to injury, the water ain't that great...in fact, the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) tap water standards are far stricter than the Food and Drug Administration's water bottle standards. In other words, your bottled water is not safer than tap water.
If -- by some unlikely phenomenon -- your tap water does become contaminated, your local water supplier must notify you via newspaper, mail, radio, TV, or owl. This rarely happens, yet bottled water manufacturers love to capitalize on those few isolated instances when 1/1000 milliliter of lead is found in a local water system. No, you won't die of bubonic plague if you drink municipal tap water. And who knew that drinking bottled water won't automatically transform you into a thin, sexy, healthy, affluent, and environmentally responsible supermodel practicing tai chi?
The next time you feel thirsty, forgo the bottle and remember the tap is mightier. You'll not only lower your environmental impact but also save money -- bottled water can cost up to 10,000 times more per gallon than tap water. Instead, limit your bottled water purchases for those times when you're traveling in India or forgot to bring your Nalgene to spinning class.