Back during Plastic-Free July 2018, Stephanie from fillgood.co and I partnered up for a 31 day plastic-free challenge. If you don’t understand how buying plastic water bottles harms the planet, check out our page: Why you should refill your water bottle.
To switch things up, this year we’re going to move beyond the water bottle and dive into what’s inside: the bottled water.
For most cities in the U.S., there is absolutely nothing safer about bottled water than your own tap water.** But bottled water costs 1000x more than tap water — anywhere from $0.90 to $8.26 per gallon, whereas tap water costs around $0.004 per gallon, less than 1/300 the cost of bottled water.
But wait, isn’t my tap water from a fresh mountain spring?
Doubtful. And by the way, if you live in the Bay Area of California, there’s a good chance your water actually does. San Francisco and surrounding cities get water directly from Hetch Hetchy, the valley-turned-reservoir John Muir fought endlessly to protect from flooding. He lost that battle, and now the bay has some of the most pristine water on earth. And yet some of us will STILL pay $3 for a bottle of Dasani that is literally Coca Cola tap water.
Coca Cola, PepsiCo and the Nestle corporation are pretty notorious plastic polluters. Nestle especially has had a history of taking water from just about anywhere they can, and at any cost, regardless of who or what is adversely affected. From national parks and forest to some of the poorest regions on Earth, Nestle sucks up water, transports it, bottles it, and ships it around the world.
According to a report by The Guardian, Nestlé sucked up 45 million gallons of pure spring water from Strawberry Creek, California and bottled it under the Arrowhead Water label in 2018. Strawberry creek is part of the San Bernardino Nationwide Forest system.
In August 2019, Nestle sparked even further outrage when the unveiled plans to siphon 1.1 million gallons of water PER DAY (!!!!!!!) from Florida’s Ginnie Springs along the Santa Fe River (Source).
Why does Nestlé continue to get away with taking pristine water from national forests? Money talks.
If you are interested in supporting the Santa Fe River’s fight against Nestle, you can make donations here: Action Alert to Stop Bottled Water Grab Permit
Sign the pledge: Do not drink or buy Nestlé water brands
And this is just the tip of the iceberg. U.S. companies take water from some of the poorest regions on the planet. In some regions, this has resulted in water theft becoming a mafia-like business. If you’re interested, read NPR’S article on Karachi’s water mafia.
Water bottles may seem like a trivial issue, but the water bottle industry has been environmentally devastating. The easiest way to solve this problem is simply by refilling a reusable bottle whenever possible.
**Understandably, some cities do not have drinkable tap water, even in the United States. According to a BuzzFeed report, tap water was contaminated in 43 US cities as recently as 2019. “Washington, D.C. Washington, D.C. Dozens of cities nationwide — including Miami, Philadelphia, and New Orleans — have toxic “forever chemicals” in their drinking water” (Buzzfeed, 2019). If you don’t know about your city’s water quality, that information is easily accessible online. Simply search for your town/city’s name, along with “water quality report.”