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Columns > John Whitler

Published: 2008/03/27
by John Whitler

Dude, Wheres My Water?

It seems like everyday is a holiday, but Im not complaining. Established by the United Nations General Assembly after the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, March 22nd is World Water Day. In the United States, we often take for granted the quality of our drinking water and sanitation services. Its certainly not perfect, but we have one of the better systems in the world. For developing countries, especially in rural areas, drinking water and sanitation services are less than ideal and present many challenges included sickness death. Water and sanitation are critical factors to alleviate poverty and hunger, for sustainable development, for environmental integrity, and for human health.
Despite our readily accessible and safe tap water, Americans are fascinated with bottled water. Fortunately this trend is facing mounting criticism as highlighted by the title of a recent New York Times Freakonomics blog post that declared, Bottled Water is the Enemy. For some startling facts about bottled water, check out the Food and Water Watch website. Bottled water uses over a million gallons of oil for the plastic bottles, those bottles are recycled less than 15% of the time and it will cost you, about $10 a gallon vs. $0.02 for tap water. Still not convinced? Well, tap water is regulated by the EPA and is tested frequently to meet regulations, while bottled water may only be tested once a week, much less frequently.
I know I am a step behind on this one as festival season has already begun, but as you venture out for your spring, summer, or fall run of shows, think about where you are going to get your next drink of water. One choice you have is to take along a reusable bottle, such as a Nalgene, or the ever so trendy KleanKanteen or Sigg (no endorsements should be inferred, my mind is not made up yet, which is best). These bottles will cost you about $20, hold about 32oz (about 4 glasses) and can be filled up easily. For extended trips, consider purchasing a reusable 5 gallon jug. My buddy and I used one last fall and it worked very well. The cost of the reusable container pays for itself very quickly when you consider paying $2-3 in the lot and $4-5 inside the show for a bottle of water. Many venues are now allowing fans to bring in empty bottles that can be refilled at water fountains inside. If the venue does not allow you to do this, arm yourself with the facts (see above) and talk to the venue manager or write them a letter when you get home.
So why do Americans still purchase over 28 billion bottles of it last year? This illustration from Steve Greenberg begs the same question.

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