There was a time, not that long ago, when the thought of bottling water was just as comical as the idea of bottling air is to us today–even thought that’s becoming more of a thing. Over the course of just a few decades, the bottled water industry has blown up and total worldwide sales are expected to reach $344 Billion by 2023. Clearly, consumers are creating that number as they have the purchasing power, but at what cost to our planet? As a concern for environmental sustainability continues to grow, it becomes more untenable to allow such practices. Recently, the state of Washington, known for it’s beautiful mountains and abundant fresh water sources, has passed a new bill through the senate that will ban new water permits.
Washington State is abundant with glacier-fed springs and lush rainforests and will become the first state in the country to put a total ban on any new water-bottling operations that are seeking to rape the state’s natural resources. This proposal is one of a few that are currently in progress in Washington aiming to protect the local groundwater and to fend off the rapidly growing bottled water industry.
Once signed into law this bill will retroactively go into effect and apply to any new permits filed after Jan. 1, 2019. The Guardian reports,
“Washington State is carving the path towards a groundbreaking solution,” said Mary Grant, the director of Food & Water Action’s public water for all campaign, in a statement, as The Guardian reported. “This legislation … would ban one of the worst corporate water abuses – the extraction of local water supplies in plastic bottles shipped out of watersheds and around the country.”
Activists have been trying to raise awareness about the consequences of these massive water-bottling companies effectively stealing water from natural sources nationwide, bottling it, then shipping it elsewhere leaving local aquifers depleted. This is so backwards on so many levels. Consider the resources to obtain the water, to transport it, to store it, then to produce the plastic water bottles, bottle it then ship it out across the country. If our actions were harmonious with our planet, we would all get our water from the sources that are closest to us.
Shouldn’t There Already Be Laws Banning This?
Washington State Senator Reuven Carlyle, who supported this bill, explained this outrageous situation well by saying,
I was jolted to the core to realize the depth and breadth and magnitude of how they have lawyered up in these small towns to take advantage of water rights. The fact that we have incredibly loose, if virtually nonexistent, policy guidelines around this is shocking and a categorical failure.
Leaked emails revealed some seriously shocking intentions by bottling company Crystal Geyser, who had planned to open up a bottling plant near Mount Rainier. Locals of this area were concerned that pumping 400 gallons per minute could lead to dry wells. The emails revealed that Crystal Geyser had begun a legal campaign attempting to sue the local subdivision that was opposing the bottling facility. They were also planning on starting an underground public relations campaign in order to garner support for their proposal. According to Tribune News Service,
“Pumping water out of the ground, putting it in plastic bottles and exporting it out of the state of Washington is not in the public interest,” said Craig Jasmer, a leader of the Lewis County Water Alliance, the group that sprung up to oppose the Randle plant and has pushed for the statewide ban.
This company in particular doesn’t have the best track record in regards to concern for environmental welfare. In January of this year, the company pleaded guilty to storing wastewater laden with arsenic in Eastern California and then delivering it to water treatment plants without informing authorities of its toxicity. The Center for Environmental Law & Policy had this to say:
Washington’s waters belong to the people of Washington. There has been an increasing number of proposals to locate commercial water bottling plants in Washington. These plants would allow Washington’s water to be taken for the benefit of corporations and users outside of the local area, perhaps out-of-state.
What Can You Do?
The answer is so simple, and yet if adopted on a global level could completely eradicate this problem… STOP BUYING BOTTLED WATER! Water is a natural resource that is free for every other species on this planet, and contrary to popular belief, we do not HAVE to pay for it. As rumor has it, the first bottled water company, Evian, hides a telling message about those who choose to purchase bottled water in its name. Evian is “Naïve” spelled backwards, indicating the nature of consumers who fall for this marketing gimmick.
Sure, there are several reasons to validate buying bottled water:
- to avoid contaminants in the municipal water supply such as fluoride and chlorine (Be advised however, that these chemicals are often still contained in water that is bottled)
- for added vitamins and minerals
- if you are on the go and want to stay hydrated
- you like the taste
- you are traveling in a foreign country and are concerned of any pathogens in the water
There are solutions to all of these above issues, however, that could ensure you never have to buy another plastic bottle of water again:
- If you don’t like your tap water or want to avoid the added chemicals, you can install a good filtration system at home if you can afford it. Or you can purchase Reverse Osmosis water from many grocery stores and you simply bring a big 5 gallon jug to refill every time. There is also the option of finding a local spring, you can do so here at findaspring.com and bottle your own
- In regards to vitamins and minerals, just add your own vitamin drops to your own water source
- Reusable water bottles, ideally good quality ones that are durable and made to last, are a great option and over a short time they will save you money as well. I don’t leave my house without filling up my water bottle to take with me
- If you prefer the taste of bottled water, I would again recommend purchasing 5 gallon Reverse Osmosis water
- If you are traveling, this is the only instance in my opinion that justifies the purchase of bottled water. However, there are still many options you can take with you to sterilize the water. I’ve used a portable UV light before that works very well. If you have the means you can also boil the water before drinking it.
We don’t have to be perfect, but if everyone just put in a little bit of effort, we could drastically reduce one of our extremely unnecessary environmental footprints, save money, and save our natural resources. And as an added perk, we would keep our hard-earned dollars out of the hands of massive corporations that don’t have the best interest of the planet or its inhabitants at heart.
Can you do it for the planet?