Let’s Chuck the Bottle


I know we’re a nation of inveterate consumers, but who would buy pollution in a bottle?

Millions of Americans do, to the tune of $11 billion worth a year. That’s the size of the bottled water industry in our country, dominated by such giants as Nestle and Coca Cola. But wait, shriek industry PR flacks, our product is pure goodness, not pollution, what are you talking about?

Start with the little-reported fact that bottled water can contain a toxic mix of industrial chemicals never tested for safety. Also, many tests of bottled water are done by the corporations themselves, rather than by independent, certified labs. Even when contaminants are found, the marketers do not have to tell consumers or public officials about them. Chances are that your city’s tap water, which is inspected several times daily, is at least as pure as the pricey stuff in bottles.

Speaking of bottles, the production and disposal of billions of tons of these throwaways is a pollution nightmare. The Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based nonprofit, has revealed a massive plastic water bottle dump in the Pacific Ocean twice the size of Texas. You can’t throw water bottles away because there is no “away.”

Then there’s the absurdly huge carbon footprint created by hauling  bottled water back and forth across our country, not to mention across oceans, bringing water all the way from France and Fiji. If you need a textbook example of energy absurdity, try this: New York water is trucked to California, and California water is trucked to New York.

The good news is us: consumers. Individuals, companies, restaurants, cities, states, and other entities are chucking the bottle, ending their silly addiction to an unnecessary source of pollution and waste. To join the effort, go to www.takebackthetap.org.

Find more information on Jim Hightower’s work—and subscribe to his award-winning monthly newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown—at www.jimhightower.com