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Greens are all wet on bottled water

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Greens are all wet on bottled water

Environmental activists shouldn’t be deciding what people drink

Thanks to
environmental activists and busybody lawmakers, bottled water may soon be more
expensive and less accessible. They say bottled water is wasteful and
environmentally irresponsible, and they are pushing a host of silly laws to tax,
ban or otherwise hinder access to the product.

Among the
anti-bottled water complaints is the claim that making and transporting bottled
water uses too much oil and that switching to tap water could significantly
reduce U.S. oil consumption. Yet even if
everyone stopped drinking bottled water, U.S. oil
consumption would decrease just 0.02 percent, based on figures found in a recent
New York Times article criticizing bottled water.

But let's
face it. How many people do you know who are willing to carry around bottles of
warm tap water? If we banned bottled water, many people would probably still buy
bottles full of something.

Similarly,
claims that bottled water is wasteful don't hold water. After
all, all products require energy for development and transportation, but that
fact alone does not make them wasteful. We allow consumers to decide what items
add value to their lives; why is bottled water any different?  

Yet greens
insist that bottled water is different than other products because it can be
replaced with tap water — which is essentially the same product minus the
negative impacts. At a press conference recently commenting on consumption of
bottled water, Salt Lake City Mayor Ross C. "Rocky" Anderson went as far as to
declare that consumption of bottled water "very clearly reflects the wasteful
and reckless consumerism in this country. ... You really have to wonder at the
utter stupidity and the irresponsibility sometimes of American
consumers."

One has to
question the wisdom of a lawmaker who calls his constituents stupid, but that's
another issue. In any case, people who drink bottled water are not stupid!
Consumers apparently value the freedom to stop by the local convenience store to
grab some chilled bottled water when the need arises rather than lug around
reusable containers filled with warm tap water.

In
addition, while tap water may be cheap and safe, it simply doesn't taste good
enough for people. Anti-bottled water fanatics may not care about how water
tastes, but apparently many other consumers do.

And the
reason that bottled water tastes so different than tap is because it is
different — despite green claims that some bottled water is nothing more than
repackaged tap water. While some bottled water may share the same source as city
water, bottled water companies further purify municipal water before
bottling.

In fact,
the two leading brands — Aquafina and Dasani — both use reverse osmosis to
filter out impurities. Such advanced purification technology does cost a bit
more, but some people think it produces tastier water than what they get
municipal water treatment plants. Other
special treatments used for bottled water include distillation and ozonation,
all of which are performed on top of municipal filtration.

Environmental activists hope to undermine such
differences by calling on the Food and Drug Administration to mandate that
bottled water companies to prominently disclose whether the source of the water
is municipal on the label. Such mandates may sound fair, but they would actually
mislead consumers into thinking that these products are an equivalent to as tap
water, which is flat wrong.

Existing
labels are more accurate. They don't make fraudulent claims about the water
coming from a natural springs, but provide other information. For example,
Dasani specifically notes on the label that it is "purified
water."

Another
overlooked benefit of bottled water is that it offers a consistent quality
product. It is in a sense just like McDonalds. If you get a Big Mac in
New Jersey, it's pretty much the same thing as
one you get California. Likewise, a bottle of Dasani from
California tastes the same as one from
Maine. Not so
with tap water — different localities produce water of different quality. Tap
water flavors come from many sources, ranging from minerals common in one area
to different kinds of piping.

It all
comes down to one simple question: Who should we trust to make the decision of
what products we can buy? Should we trust busybody environmental activists or
individuals who pay the bills and must live with the consequences of their own
decisions? 

It's a no
brainer.