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Moving Away From Bottled Water

When students return to campus this year, they’ll find Smith’s Dining Services at the leading edge of a movement to wean Americans from bottled water, which is frequently tap water that has been filtered.

Dining Services will distribute Smith-blue water bottles complete with convenient carrying loops and intended to replace bottled water at the newly renovated Chapin Grab-and-Go dining site with “draft” water.

Here’s why: The bottled water phenomenon is one of the most successful marketing
campaigns ever devised. Although there are few places in the United States where tap water is dangerous or unavailable, and even though government quality standards are higher for tap water than for bottled water, Americans have been cheerfully paying up to 4,000 times the cost of tap water for the bottled liquid. (Municipal water supplies are monitored regularly and must meet high standards; bottled waters are not.)  

As a result, in some states and emerging countries, water tables have been reduced to near-drought levels as international water companies draw off millions of
gallons to package and ship elsewhere. Moreover, making plastic bottles—usually in China—and shipping them all over the world to meet the U.S. demand for bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 100,000 cars for a year.

Each bottle is stenciled with the Smith logo and the reminder "(You) I Must Recycle."

In spite of recycling efforts, more than 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills and incinerators every day. They bob along in our oceans and find their way to beaches around the world, either whole, as trash, or more insidiously worn down to small pieces that are ingested by marine life and permanently clog animals’ digestive tracts.

So every time you use that snappy new Smith-blue water bottle, tell yourself how smart you are to save money and resources simply by turning the tap and using safe, local water.


8/23/07   By Carole Fuller
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