Caveat Emptor: Bottled Water Notes
by Nancy Corson Carter
Americans spend over $13 billion yearly on bottled water, yet it’s free from our taps. Some 40% of it is tap water. Plus the US EPA sets more stringent standards for tap water than the FDA does for bottled beverages.
Why be wary of bottled water: Is it really safe? Is it being privatized, i.e. stolen for private profit? There have already been “water wars”: read the Cochabama Declaration (December 2000, Bolivia) declaring the people’s hard-won rights over sales of water by government to foreign companies.
Big Water is trying, with Congress’s help, to force our national parks to keep selling bottled water despite the Park Service Director’s enacted policy to halt it. Overflowing garbage cans and growing recycling and landfill costs prompted him to ban bottled water sales as long as refilling stations and reusable bottles replaced the disposable plastic bottles. Why not, unless parks lack their own water?
Buying your own reusable container and filling it at home is generally a good consumer’s choice. Although in emergency and special health circumstances bottled water may be the only safe water available. And we must be vigilant that our municipal water is safe to avoid more Flints.
We cannot live without clean water. As consumers we have an obligation to care for this sacred gift.
Nancy Corson Carter is a member of the EARTH Team. She lives in Chapel Hill, NC, where she facilitates an Earth Care Committee at the Church of Reconciliation (PCUSA).