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9.21.2012

THE COST OF SOMETHING FREE




The hunger for convenience based everything, the ever rising health consciousness of our nation created an industry avenue which capitalized and sparked the rise of the revenue monster bottled water industry.  It is both ironically brilliant and a bit frightening.  We, as consumers, continue to fuel a huge money making industry by our purchase and consumption of water in convenient, throw-away plastic bottles.  I'm ready to stop!  

It's only been in the past 15-20 years that we have seen this amazing phenomena emerge and dominate.  What, I wondered recently, did we ever do without cases of bottled water?  How did we throw a party, have Thanksgiving, go to the beach, travel in the car, workout at the gym without bottled water?  What was life like before plastic disposable water bottles?  It seems I can barely remember life without their prominence.  Was I thirstier back then?  How did I live by drinking out of a glass from the faucet in the kitchen?  It seemed archaic, unhealthy, inconvenient and well, free!
If I had to pick some trend 20 years ago that would sweep the world, it would not have been bottled water.  Though to my defence I also would not have foreseen Facebook either.  I am just too down to earth, a lover of simple things like; a glass of water and real conversation with people I actually have a relationship with.  My not thinking like that has caused me to remain solidly part of the unnoticed middle class.

  
You might be thinking, she must not drink bottled water.  Wrong!  I am consistently just as lazy as you, even though I have several refillable bottles in my house that would cut down on the enormous amount of plastic waste we produce yearly.  I have definite issues with plastic in general though.  I won't cook with it in the microwave and don't like to store food in it either.  A product that is made from petroleum can't be good for us!  Yet, we continue to think we are being "healthy" by drinking bottled water.  It's sort of an oxymoron.
 
When I was growing up you didn't pay for drinking water.  Water was free.  If you went somewhere and wanted water, you put it in a container you had from home; a jar with a lid, a thermos, a Tupperware shaker, something!  Rarely do I remember feeling like I needed to take a drink of water with me.  There were no cup holders in the car, barring the small indentations on the inside of the glove box door much like you find on the trays in front of each airplane seat.  We didn't drink and drive:)
 
I'm thinking if I am bothered by this whole bottled water thing and see it a bit of capitalism gone wrong, then I would imagine the generations above me shake their heads.  Research says that water is among the top 5 beverages consumers purchase monthly.  At a recent concert, to get a drink of water I had to pay $4.50 for a bottle of water.  The same cost charged for a bottle of Coke!   Stats are staggering; 9 billion gallons of bottled water are consumed yearly in the U.S. alone, we as consumers spent 21.7 billion dollars on water in 2011, and wholesale revenues of the industry are over 11 billion dollars.   Amazing.  There would have been very few, if any, stats on bottled water 20 or more years ago!
 
2011 was the first year since the rise of the water industry that numbers showed a slight decrease, though that is an arguable stat currently being debunked by other stats!  I think there are valid reasons why there is a questionable blip in the water line.  We are maybe all realizing that plastics are not healthy!  Possibly we have now gotten over the convenience blinders and looked at the cost.  Research has come out with some negative reports about the processes and sources of water that are being bottled.  In some cases, your tap water is better quality.  The duping is being exposed.
 
I recently saw GAP carrying a line of glass water bottles (finally!) with a cushioned sleeve over them.  That will probably be the next thing to catch on - a complete exodus from the plastic craze.  I really don't want convenience to trump health.  Even with WATER!   Buy a filtered pitcher, a faucet filter, a water line filter or a ROS system.  Save the earth, and reduce the toxins we ingest from plastics. 


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