June '08 Activism

What is so smart about Smart Water?
By Diana Christinson

Smart Water is just one of the popular designer waters on the market today. Their latest campaign features a famous actress selling us health in a bottle. But, how healthy is this water, or any bottled water, for us or for the environment?

It is hard to pinpoint exactly when the designer water craze began. We went from tap water to water dispensers to individually packaged bottles of water. Now, more than half the American population is purchasing their water along with their food for the week at the grocery store. 

Water has become a big, highly profitable business. Annual water sales are now estimated to be between 50 and100 billion dollars worldwide. The two top-selling water brands are Aquafina, owned by Pepsi, and Dasani, owned by Coca-Cola. Now all grocery stores, drug stores, health food stores, and convenience stores have entire isles dedicated to water: spring water, vitamin water, flavored water, distilled water, and carbonated water from all over the country and the world. The water choices continue to multiply, as does the size of shelving that stores are dedicating to water. 

What’s wrong with the water pumped into our homes each day? Forty percent of all bottled water is treated tap water. Aquafina and Dasani are both taken from municipal water from Wichita, Kansas, Queens, New Jersey, and Jacksonville, Florida. Everest bottle water originates from South Texas and Yosemite brand is drawn from municipal water from LA suburbs. Many of us believe that bottled water is healthier or safer for us, but the federal government requires more stringent safety testing and monitoring of municipal drinking water and has little to no control over what gets into bottled water. 

It is important for us to be educated consumers. The folks that are telling us that bottled water is a more healthy choice are the same companies selling bottled water and making billions on sales. 

Before you buy your next bottle of pre-packaged designer water, consider this:

-Only one out of ten bottles are recycled. The other bottles are taken to landfills where they take up space and may potentially leach toxic additives such as phthalates into the ground water, polluting our municipal water. (Message in a Bottle)

-CRI (Container Recycling Institute) estimates that supplying Americans with bottled water over one year consumes more than 15 million barrels of oil, which is enough to generate electricity for more than 250,000 homes for a year or enough to fuel 100,000 cars for a year.

-It takes one thousand years for a bottle to decompose in a landfill and it will never decompose in the ocean. In some areas of our oceans, there is seven times more plastic particles in the water than plankton – so, creatures of the sea end up consuming plastic particles, causing disease and death. (Algalita Marine Research Foundation)

-Millions of tons of plastic are used globally each year to manufacture water bottles. Most bottles are made from oil derived polyethylene terephthalate known as PET. PET generates more than 100 times the toxic emissions compared to the making of glass. (Message in a Bottle)

-Transporting and storing bottled water uses natural resources and contributes to green house gases and pollution.

-Bottled water is more expensive than gas.

-Compare $0.002 per gallon for most tap water to an average of $0.89 to $8.26 per gallon for bottled water. Bottled water is a thousand times more expensive than tap water. (Food and Water Watch -- democracyinaction.org).

-It takes 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water.

-Water is a public resource, not a commodity.  Public policy must ensure the sustainability of safe water supplies for the benefit of all people and the natural environment. (Sierra Club)

Bottled water is not smart. Not for us and not for the planet.

As Gandhi once said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” Buy a refillable water bottle and begin using it. You will not only save money, you will be helping to protect a public resource and the environment. Join Think Outside the Bottle and Sierra Club to help protect our natural resources and everyone’s rights to them.


A special note to yogis traveling to Mysore: 

Bring your refillable/reusable bottles to India. There are many water delivery programs and water filter programs. I have used both types of water and they are very safe. You might also consider having a water filter installed so that you can use it while in Mysore, and leave it behind for students who might come after you. 

Diana Christinson is the director of the Pacific Ashtanga Yoga Shala located in Dana Point, California. Diana was trained by Tim Miller and authorized by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois.  When she isn't teaching, practicing, or traveling to India, she is encouraging the yoga community to think about the environment. 

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