Ditching Bottled Water

Come close because I have a secret to tell you. It’s not a secret you need to keep. It’s a secret you need to spread.
    Want me to spill it?
    Listen up.
    That water that comes out of your kitchen sink or bathroom faucet, you know the stuff. The same water you use to brush your teeth or wash your dishes. The same water you fill your dogs’ bowls with. Yeah, that water.
    Well, that water is drinkable. I know your jaw just hit the floor. Don’t let the lack of corporate advertising or a fancy label fool you. Municipal tap water — and much well water, too — is good water.
    In an initiative called Thinking Outside the Bottle, the watchdog group Corporate Accountability International (www.stopcorporateabuse.org/think-outside-bottle) is holding conglomerate water providers accountable for the bad rap local water has received. Working to promote and protect public funding for municipal water systems, this campaign is praising local water and urging you to ditch the plastic bottles for the tap.
    The movement is catching. More than 30 restaurants and businesses in Annapolis have agreed to become part of the Thinking Outside the Bottle campaign. Seventeen are going bottle-free, and all have agreed to support the initiative and promote municipal water.
    “It was an easy decision to make,” says Carla Lucente co-owner of BB Bistro in West Annapolis. “As an environmentally friendly restaurant, we thought the campaign seemed like a wonderful idea.”
    Think Outside the Tap bases its complaint on costs to both the environment and the economy — often our personal economies.
    In the last decade, the amount of plastic bottles ending up in landfills rose from 1,175 million to 3,900 million pounds. All those bottles could have been recycled. But they weren’t.
    Plastic bottles are also costly to manufacture. Approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil — enough to run 100,000 cars for a year — goes into the manufacture of plastic water bottles. Transportation from production to bottling to where you buy it burns even more oil. As does its transportation to recycling depot or landfill — where it will live on longer than the person who drank its contents.
    Drinking tap water, on the other hand, leaves no residue — except the money it brings into the local economy. Imagine this: Every $1 invested in public water results in $6 in gross domestic product, according to the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Every single job in public water creates almost four supporting jobs in the national economy.
    Drinking tap water saves you money, too. At the low end, a bottle of water fetches about $1 in vending machines. Put in your dollar, and you pay eight cents per ounce of water.
    Municipal water is not free, but it costs fractions of what bottled water costs: an average of one cent per gallon. Well water is free — after you’ve drilled the well.
    But bottled water is a big business, and its got big momentum. Last year, bottled water sales topped $15 billion. Which averages out to you spending well over $500 on water.