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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    There’s no excuse for bottled water

    Alyson Hill columnist
    Alyson Hill
    columnist

    Nothing says “”Welcome back”” like a heaping helping of dehydration, courtesy of Tucson’s bone-dry climate. Between the headaches and the fatigue from not getting enough fluids after trekking around campus in the sweltering August sun, I can hardly blame anyone for carrying a great big bottle of water from class to class – goodness knows I do.

    Newcomers from other states may think we look like weaklings, equipping ourselves with a liter of water as though we’re planning an excursion across the Sahara, but seasoned Tucsonans know better: In an Arizona summer, you’ll need a fair bit more than the recommended two liters per day to stay hydrated. So kudos to everyone I’ve seen with his or her personal water bottle this past week; your body will thank you. I only hope that’s not bottled water you’re drinking – or haven’t you heard?

    I’ll admit that it didn’t cross my mind either until I began actively looking for ways to be more environmentally conscious in my daily life. Bottled water just seemed so good: If ever I was thirsty, I could stop by the nearest convenience store and pick up a happy little bottle of ice-cold refreshment. It was enough to make me completely overlook the fact that I could just as easily go home and turn on a faucet, and, in so doing, receive more water than I could ever possibly drink in one day, all for the low, low price of $10 added to my monthly rent.

    Bottled water doesn’t grow in convenience store refrigerators; it’s trucked in, often from hundreds of miles away from where you’re buying it, burning up hundreds of gallons of fuel in the process. It also takes a whole lot of oil to make those little plastic bottles – 1.5 million barrels to make 38 million bottles per year, to be precise – and a whole lot of energy to obtain and treat the water and to bottle it.

    Nestle, Coca-Cola and Pepsi are trying to combat this long-overdue negative publicity by reducing the amount of plastic used in their bottles, but the fact remains that all of the resources used in producing bottled water are wasted by providing Americans with something that we can already get ubiquitously, safely and for free. Even if you recycle your bottle (and I’ve seen enough trash cans on this campus to know that there are a lot of you out there who don’t bother, even though the recycle bin is almost always right next to the trash can), the resources saved by your effort are not enough to absolve you of the sin of supporting bottled water in the first place.

    I don’t know why you would want to drink bottled water, anyway. Twenty-five to 40 percent of all bottled water – including Aquafina, the brand sold on campus – comes straight from the tap. Some of it receives additional treatment. Some of it may not even be that good: The EPA requires daily monitoring of the contaminants in municipal water, but the FDA lets bottled water slip by with once-a-year testing even though its sources are just as vulnerable to contamination as tap water sources. And while your bottled water of choice may pass its yearly inspection, you don’t even want to know how much bacteria will be present in it after as little as one week in storage (hint: a lot).

    So please, don’t turn your nose up at what comes out of the tap. I’ve only been a couple places in Tucson where the tap water was truly vile, and even then it’s nothing that a filter and a night in the fridge can’t usually fix. And you can get re-usable bottles from Walgreens for as little as $1.50, or the cost of one liter of bottled water. Drinking tap water is cheaper, it’s easier and it’s healthier. Give it a try – you’ll find that being nice to your environment actually tastes pretty good.

    Alyson Hill is a senior majoring in classics, German studies and history. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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