No More Bottled Water PLEASE!

     I have a very difficult time being disciplined and prepared enough to carry my own re-usable bottle of water with me everywhere.  It doesn’t make sense because I always manage to be prepared and have plenty of bottled Diet Coke on hand so why can’t I just commit to making the switch with water?

     The article I read recently has more good reasons to make the switch.  Beyond the normal reason  of filling up landfills is the lack of regulations on bottled water.  It sounds like the federal government doesn’t pay too much attention to what the bottled water industry does. 

     I as a business owner who serves the publc am required to take the same precautions as a large city when it comes to the water in our toilets and taps at Voyageur Canoe Outfitters.  We have bag filters and chlorinators and turbidimeters and during the season we are required to send bi-monthly water samples from our tap to the State Health Department.  Yet it sounds like the next time I send a sample in I should substitute some bottled water and see if it passes the rigid MN Health Department’s standards. 

     In any case, this article motivates me even more to do the right thing for the environment and for me!

The Everyday Green: The Trouble with Bottled Water by Katherine Butler

Many months ago, just a few weeks into dating my boyfriend, we took a trip down to REI.  While he looked around the hiking equipment, I went to do what I always do at REI – wander the organic chocolate aisle and obsess over what’s new and what’s too fattening. (Don’t you?)

But then Boyfriend called me back. He was standing in the BPA-free water bottle aisle, holding out a purple BPA-free Camelbak water bottle. “Do you want me to buy this for you?” he asked. It was the first gift he ever gave me. As I nodded “yes,” I emitted biodegradable heart balloons from my head and melted into a lovely puddle.

And so, I carried around my purple BPA-free water bottle much like a girl might sport diamonds. I proudly filled it up and took it to the gym, carefully fastening it to each piece of equipment. I smugly noted that I wasn’t drinking plastic, ingesting harmful chemicals, or wasting my money on unfiltered tap water some company bottled right out of the tap. I’d look around at other people swigging on their bottled water, and I’d pity their clear lack of a sensitive man who cared enough about her filtered water needs. I was on top of the eco world, smiling at rainbows, skipping with babies, strutting down the clean, eco streets of LA.

Then one day, I left my BPA-free bottle at the gym and all hell broke loose.

It happened like this. I brought the bottle to the gym, stuck it in a machine, and walked right off without it. I came to this realization at home and called the boyfriend, frantic. After establishing that no one had, in fact, DIED, he calmly offered, “Just go back to the gym. It will still be there.” I protested. Of course, evil elves had snatched the water bottle and spirited it off to Evil Elf Land, never to be seen again. “You’re too cynical,” my boyfriend sighed. “It’ll probably be in the lost and found.” I called the gym. After also establishing that no one else had, in fact, DIED, they looked in their lost and found. And it wasn’t there.


I was inconsolable – and secretly vindicated that being cynical was vindicated. Naturally, I did what any enraged green girl would do – I went straight to and ordered the exact same water bottle. Clearly, I would show the bottle snatchers. See what thievery does to carbon footprints? Seriously, who knew bottled water could be such trouble?

Duh, environmentalists have known! They have known it for-evs. And it’s not just because water is contained in plastic. Sure, it’s going to sit in a landfill for a thousand years unless you recycle it. Especially if you’ve bought plastic bottle #3 (you know, it has the 3 on the bottom).  This means that it is filled with PVC (polyvinyl chloride), and it is virtually impossible to recycle because of all the additives that are added.

But it’s also about health. A recent congressional report showed that the FDA has little authority to regulate bottled water.  This means that the money you are spending on bottled water might be going to H20 that is actually worse than what is coming out of your tap. Which is regulated. Unless you get your water from a well.

Further, studies have shown that chemicals called phthalates leach into bottled water over time. Phthalates basically go nuts on your hormones. “One study found that water that had been stored for 10 weeks in plastic and even in glass bottles contained phthalates, suggesting that the chemicals could be coming from the plastic cap or liner.” And yes, you guess, it, there are no legal limits for phthalates in bottled water, though they are regulated in tap water.

The Environmental Working Group backed these claims with a fantastic, complete report about the state of bottled water.  Only two percent of bottled waters disclose water sources and treatment methods on their labels and offer a recent water quality test report on their websites. Just 18% of bottled waters disclose quality reports with contaminant testing results. (And they are all Nestle brands.)

So ready to take step away from bottled water forever? REI is a great place to start. You can go with BPA-free plastic which can be recycled in the end. Some people go with stainless steel – except, tread lightly here. Stainless steel water bottle giant Sigg was recently busted for using aluminum bottles with BPA in the liners.

And in the meantime, keep an eye out for a purple plastic BPA-free Camelbak. If you see one being held by a suspicious-looking LA gym goer, you know where to find me.