Banning bottled water

Leslie Carlson

Creek_bull_run_watershed_2
When I was kid, I was told that Portland’s water was the best in the country. This was proved true when I visited my cousins in Davis, California, one summer. On a hot day in a local park, I ran over to a water fountain to slake my thirst…and immediately spit out the alkaline, metallic-tasting liquid running into my mouth.

Just to be clear: I’m sure that the drinking water in Davis is safe and tastes fine to local residents. I was just surprised to learn that the Bull Run water I’d been raised on really was sweet, and so easy to drink.

There’s been quite a bit of media attention to the American bottled water habit recently, but I have always been a bit mystified that so many Portlanders buy—and drink—bottled water when excellent, fresh, clean water runs free from the tap.

It’s not just the cost that surprises me. (Though the price of bottled water is about three times the cost of gasoline.) Sixty million empty plastic water bottles are sent to landfills across the country every day. You read that right: 60 million plastic bottles are thrown away daily, sent to leach contaminants into soil and water at a landfill near you. In Portland, I’m sure that a lot of plastic water bottles are recycled, and now that Oregon’s Bottle Bill has been expanded, you’ll be able to return them for a deposit soon. And yet, many plastic water bottles are thrown away and will continue to be thrown away, even here, after the Bottle Bill changes take effect.

Then there’s the fact that bottled water is heavy to move (so heavy that an 18-wheeler truck can’t be loaded completely full of bottled water—part of it needs to remain empty so the engine can pull it). Why, in a state concerned with global warming, do we buy bottled water flown and trucked in from Fiji and Italy, or trucked here from who knows where?

For me, the most compelling reason to kick the bottled water habit is a moral one. It somehow seems wasteful to excess to drink water air-freighted in when one in six inhabitants of the planet don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water. Meanwhile, our grocery store coolers overflow with the stuff in plastic and high-quality, safe water runs free from our taps. Do we really need to hog the world's water, just like we hog the oil and the energy?

I’d love to see the City of Portland enact some sort of ban on bottled water like San Francisco and Ann Arbor recently did. In the meantime, however, our family has enacted our own personal bottled water ban. I’m going to invest in some refillable water bottles and teach my kids that nothing is quite as quenching as what we get from Bull Run.

Comments

  • spicey (unverified)
    (Show?)

    great post, Leslie, I agree completely. wonder what it would take to do a statewide ban? I'd love to see Portland move forward on this and have had my own personal bottled water ban for years. good reasoning, thanks.

  • Anonymous (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Sorry to go OT, but this just came up at WW:

    [Off-topic comment removed. Really, you couldn't find a Smith '08 topic to post this on? -editor.]

  • (Show?)

    As I've told my co-workers, I think Portland water tastes funny. I know, I know, that is the taste of goodness. I loved Albuquerque tap water but I just can wrap my taste buds around this northwest water. So, instead of buying a ton of water bottles, I got a large Brita water filter (looks like I get water delivered, but I just re-fill the same bottle) and it soothes the afore-mentioned buds and I am not consuming tons of bottles.

    That said, I don't want to fill my Nalgene bottle out of those Benson bubblers. I've seen the way people drink water out of those things - wrapping lips, spitting, the occasional snot blow - and I don't want to partake. I can't say that I would completely quit drinking bottled water but I no longer buy them every few days and I usually bring my own full bottle with me.

    I don't agree that forcing an entire city to do without their bottled water without education on the subject first is the best way to conduct government in a free society. So, Leslie, I agree with the overuse of bottled water (who knew it would be so popular?) but the cat's out of the bag. Convenience in the society is of utmost importance and that factor is not going away without a fight. Man, I'm full of cliches.

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
    (Show?)

    The most energy used for bottled water is in the transportation of that water from the supermarket to your house when you use a car. So, while it is noble to try to ditch the bottled water habit, it is perhaps even better to aim to reduce consumption of anything that involves local driving.

  • sarah (unverified)
    (Show?)

    We really try to avoid the bottle water habit at our home but there are some situations where it is necessary. The first is that both of our children were adopted as infants and were on formula. You need good clean water to mix formula. For our first child we had not replaced the pipes in our 1905 house. So we had no idea what the pipes were putting into the water (the water was brown first thing in the morning). I think most can agree that it was best to use bottle water for the child. Even then we bought it in large containers but it was still bottled water. For ourselves we filtered the water.

    Another thing is that I keep a case in my car for "emergency" situations. We take water in reusable containers but sometimes we drink all of that. Other times we are running errands and have unexpected time to stop at a park and run around - I prefer for the family to drink water instead of buying something else. Like Karol there are a lot of public sources I won't drink from. I think the Oregonian did an article recently about a high school student who studied the cleanliness of water fountains in his school. His very gross findings got a lot of attention. People let dogs drink out of those things for gosh sakes.

    This makes me think of my travels to Central America where you cannot drink the tap water unless you really want a stomach bug. A lot of people drink soda when they are out because if they have to buy a bottle of something it will not be water. (Many homes have the large bottle of drinking water delivered or they boil water before drinking it.) I would be interested in seeing some numbers that show if bottle water sales have affected soda sales. Would banning bottle water make people just reach for other beverages? I would imagine that transporting Coke would not be any better for the environment and at least water is healthier for the people drinking it.

  • Coyote (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I can't say the idea of a bottled water ban does much for me. I'm an unapologetic treehugger, but I'm becoming more and more convinced that the knee-jerk command-and-control mentality of most of my fellow enviros has become more harmful than helpful.

    At first glance Portland's ban on styrofoam seems to be working OK. But that ban probably just increases the amount of paper and plastic in landfills. We need an objective ecological cost-benefit analysis to really evaluate the impacts of such policies. I'd venture to guess that banning bottled water would just result in more bottled soda and juice consumption. These products are still 90%+ water from who-knows-where and are packaged exactly the same way as bottled water.

    I'd be much more inclined to support a real update to Oregon's Bottle Bill. A major expansion that would help ensure that the price of all packaged products reflect the true costs of their production and disposal (those pesky externalities). The Dems' recent tweak to the Bottle Bill was a tiny half-step towards that ideal.

    I'm just brainstorming here, but how about a 25+ cent deposit on ALL packaged beverages AND foods? And how about some incentives to make sure that packaging is made from post-consumer "waste"? This would help ensure that allegedly recyclable packages are actually recyclable. I can't count the number of times I've taken my "recyclables" back to the natural foods chain I bought them from, only to find they're not accepting them.

    Dang it, that all sounds kind of command-and-controlish. But it'd be nice if we could find a way to ensure that ALL the ecological costs of a product are reflected in the price, and it'd be even nicer if we could do that in such a way as to not unduly increase the power of the regulatory state.

  • (Show?)

    I should note that both municipal bans deal with city departments buying bottled water (SF) and selling bottled water at city events (Ann Arbor). They are not total, wholesale bans of bottled water in either jurisdiction.

  • Rasputin (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Following your argument (bottled water is unnecessary, so make it illegal) to its logical conclusion...

    Beer is also unnecessary. As are juice, all types of soda and so on. They all come from somewhere other than a tap from Bull Run.

    Are you suggesting we ban all of those as well? If not, why the inconsistency? Thank you. Respectfully, Sean.

  • (Show?)

    I'd also like to challenge the supposition that bottled water is somehow safer and cleaner than tap water.

    Ask yourself this: whom do you trust more to provide you with clean drinking water, Nestle and Coca-Cola, or your local government?

    Local water authorities are subject to strict federal regulations governing the safety of their water supply. Multinational corporations are not.

  • MCT (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I say don't just banned bottle water...let's return to returnable (reusable not just recyclable) bottles for beverages, all of which simply taste better when not stored in plastic and aluminum. Make the deposits worth the consumers returning the bottles to the store/vender. Back in the day, cabonated drinks were bottled locally, franchised by the big name drinks, using their recipes. Why not go back to that concept? Fewer chemicals, no petrolium-based packaging. Less shipping, less fuel, air pollution, less wear and tear on the highways and roads....more locally based jobs, more tax revenue from those companies and employees. Bottled beer (et al) from elsewhere ( some of which cannot be brewed without Rocky Moutain water apparently), could be the exceptions. But tell those companies in order to market in Oregon, they must reuse their glass containers at some level, even if they were reused locally for some other drink. There are probably other product packagings that we could re-think, while we're at it.

  • (Show?)

    I have to say the number one time I buy bottled water is when I am out running errands on a hot day. When given the choice between soda and water, I'm going to pick water. I'll usually grab one for me and one for my daughter -- keeps us from getting dehydrated and cool. If bottles of water weren't available, I'd still be buying something in a bottle -- likely a soda since I can get that for a buck and juice is often closer to $2.

    Just about the only other time I buy them is when I am doing political work. When you're running canvasses, you go through a lot of water. Most campaigns don't have the ability to buy that many reusable containers to send with their volunteers. You'd probably be constantly replacing them due to loss and damage. Plus, you need some place to be able to wash and store all of them. You can fit a lot of cases of water in a small space.

    Reusing the bottles of water gets hard. They need to be washed well, and even then people get a bit hesitant about taking a bottle that isn't still "sealed for their safety."

    There's no way I'd be sending out canvassers without cold water.

  • ws (unverified)
    (Show?)

    There certainly are special circumstances justifying the accessibility to bottled water, as Sarah notes, (5th comment from top..why aren't these comments numbered?), but its role in the proliferation of a material of limited recyclability such as plastic seems to be a decidedly negative thing.

    Nothing I've ever heard has led me to understand that a plastic bottle sees more than a few generations of recycling, but glass on the other hand (thanks for bringing it up MCT)can be recycled through many, many different generations, correct? I'm sorry Karol finds that Portland's water tastes funny, but I suppose this reaction isn't totally extraordinary. Nothing personal, but I think many people are just a little phobic about ordinary realities of day to day life. I suppose there is a bunch of junk in the water as a result of flowing through Portland's old water pipes into the Benson bubblers. The air has all kinds of stuff in it downtown too. So what's next? Breathing from compressed air tanks?

    I'm willing to believe for the present that the bubbler water isn't going to make me sick or kill me, and, as far as I'm concerned, it tastes just fine, but then, as some will say, 'no accounting for taste', right? I've seen people let their dogs drink out of the bubblers too. So what if they or other people wrap tongues, lips and touch the metal? The water flowing over the hardware isn't recycled, it's fresh. Don't touch the metal yourself, and if you follow that practice, it doesn't seem as though it would be very likely that you could get germs or a communicable infection from the bubbler. As usual though, I didn't do my research, so maybe someone else knows better.

  • (Show?)

    Hey folks, would y'all mind actually reading Leslie's post and clicking on the relevant links before just firing off a response based purely on the headline?

    As the links make obvious, and she notes in a comment (for those of you who don't know that the blue text is the intertubelinky goodness) San Francisco and Ann Arbor DID NOT BAN BOTTLED WATER.

    They merely stopped buying it for city workers (SF) and allowing commercial vendors to sell it at city events (AA).

    If you're gonna argue with Leslie, at least argue with the argument she made -- not the argument you imagined that she made.

  • (Show?)

    I think some people did read the links, we're just listing reasons and times when bottled water is needed.

    I can understand not buying it for city workers. The governmental offices I've worked in typically had the delivered water in the large 5 gallon bottles. And the only reason they had that was because the condition of the pipes in the building made the water not suitable for drinking (usually really old buildings).

    Other governmental entities I've seen encourage the refilling of the bottles. At my home town's city council meetings (as well as many surrounding cities), they keep the bottles from the city council meetings which are cleaned and refilled for the next meeting. That allows them to continue refilling the bottles with tap water, and they only have to buy new ones if one breaks. Some council members brought in their own containers with lids and those were refilled instead.

    I think some reasons why water bottles are used by governments and at events is that they're fairly easy to keep clean, cold, etc. You can have a fridge or cooler that is filled with bottles of water. And the water inside will stay clean for some time. My dad (a cement contractor who worked outside) always had to dump his big orange drink cooler each night, and then get new ice and refill it each day. Otherwise, the water would begin to take on an odd taste and could grow mildew and bacteria.

    However, it's a lot easier to cool down a large drink cooler filled with water than it is plastic bottles. This is especially true if you start with warmer water that will quickly melt the first batch of ice -- then you add more ice to keep it cold. I do it all the time to make a batch of cold ice tea in a few minutes.

    Maybe governments should look at purchasing plastic water bottles (the reusable sport bottle type) that can be refilled. Combined with some sort of easy access to cold water, this should pretty much eliminate the need for the disposable type bottles. After all, unlike with canvassing, you're dealing with the same employees every day. They can be responsible for their bottle just as they are other assigned work equipment. Some extras could be kept around for use when needed. It would be a little expensive up front, but cheaper in the long run -- both for the government and the environment.

    Events are a little harder. You'd end up exchanging plastic water bottles for paper/plastic cups, plastic lids, and straws. You can do cups without lids (like the zoo does); however, those can be a huge pain in the ass. They spill, dust and dirt get in them easily, etc. We invested in enough of the refillable animal shaped cups for us each to have one. We wash them afterwards, and take them everytime we go to the zoo. Not only does it mean refills are cheaper than buying a drink in a cup, but that's less waste in the trash cans. Plus it's fun to drink out of a cup shaped like an elephant, bear, alligator, etc.

    Maybe something similar should be considered for big events? I don't know how feasible this would be, but I sure like it at the zoo.

  • (Show?)

    I should note that the DPO did this (refillable bottles) at their last Oregon Summit, and I hope they're going to do it again. My daughter Abby claimed my Oregon Summit sports bottle as soon as I got home. But it was nice, because I gave it a quick rinse in the bathroom sink and then was able to use it all weekend. Much better than the little plastic cups that hold so little water that your cup is empty 15 minutes into a session. And it's either go thirsty or be rude and get in people's way to get out of your seat and back to the water.

    With the plastic bottles you could refill them as you came in the room, and unless you drink a lot or the room was unusually hot, it was more than enough to last.

  • james mattiace (unverified)
    (Show?)

    To add my two cents, research has discovered that plastic water bottles contain a significantly high level of DiHydrogen Monoxide which can cause death in excess amounts and is present in all dialysis patients and those undergoing cancer treatments.

    As a side note, the Bus Project experimented with handing out refillable bottles during the '06 campaign cycle. It was costly, but positive. We ended up with a hybrid model making the refillable (and branded) bottles a prize for returning canvassers, and el-cheapo plastic water for everyone else. One non-profit's attempt to address the issue and we'll do better in '08.

    The Legislature's anemic move on the bottle bill should help matters a bit, but the whole concept of bottled water is by-product of rampant consumerism. Gee, what did we ever do before Evian? (ya'll remember the joke about what it spells in reverse....)

    Leslie, good post. I hope I didn't end up shading an actual problem that has actual solutions with too much cheesy humour.

    James Mattiace

  • Blue Oregonians Are Nuts (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Kari, I'll argue directly with Leslie:

    allowing commercial vendors to sell it at city events (AA).

    Once again, a BO blogger puts forth one of those ideas that is questionable at best, but trademark PDX nuts. Note carefully here I am only addressing the AA ban, and not the SF ban which could be justified on other bases.

    1) People come from far and wide to city events. Only an idiot would argue everyone could and should anticipate how much water they might need to bring with them from points distant. And why would anyone who claims to be progressive and/or health conscious, argue that people should be forced to buy any manner of alternative drinks --- which presumably still could be sold by vendors --- rather than water? (Frankly, though, BO PDXers' so frequently demonstrate they are so self-obsessed that it is not fair to assume such genuine considerations of reality or others ever enters into their mind.)

    2) As another poster noted: The most energy used for bottled water is in the transportation of that water from the supermarket to your house when you use a car. Whether the "most" is true or not, transportation costs for bottled water at city events would be replaced by transportation costs for an equivalent amount of other potable fluids. And if you are dumb enough to believe somehow the city will always m make enough drinking fountains available, with all the attendent contamination problems associated with large scale public use in a short time of such facilities you are obligated to put a dollar amount and environmental cost on the secondary health care impacts. (It would costs hundreds of dollars = hundreds of bottles of water, to transport and treat just one person in the emergency room.)

    3) I'd hope we can all agree that for those who get their jollies dragging refillable water bottles around, they should thoroughly clean them once a day. Can anyone cite the cost of detergent and hot water (includes transportation costs for the detergent if you are going to weasel about how transportation costs must be included in the cost of bottled water.)? Those costs all can be translated into environmental impacts and the balance between bottled water and alternatives in each specific circumstance --- like a city event --- can be calculated. Surprise, surprise, I was unable to find any such fair calculation from any advocates for such measures.

    I could go on, but that's enough for now.

  • (Show?)

    People come from far and wide to city events. Only an idiot would argue everyone could and should anticipate how much water they might need to bring with them from points distant.

    Interestingly enough, that's exactly what people used to do before the advent of bottled water. Americans used to be ingenious enough to bring something to drink with them or to search out a drinking fountain (thus the ubiquitous Benson Bubblers).

  • (Show?)

    Blue Oregonians are nuts.

    Once again, a BO blogger puts forth one of those ideas that is questionable at best, but trademark PDX nuts.

    (Frankly, though, BO PDXers' so frequently demonstrate they are so self-obsessed that it is not fair to assume such genuine considerations of reality or others ever enters into their mind.)

    Please note that these kinds of comments serve no purpose in any discussion other than to discourage other people from expressing their ideas.

  • Phh (unverified)
    (Show?)

    An OSU researcher says every year, world wide, 20-million barrels of OIL and 180 million gallons of FRESH water are used JUST to make plastic water bottle containers. And he said transportation costs only add to the environmental costs. The researcher also said about 1/4 of the bottled water Americans buy is from municipal tap water systems with chlorine removed and (maybe) some minerals added. Pepsi and Cocal Cola are heavily involved in selling bottled water. Don't like chlorine taste? The researcher said just put tap water in a jar or bottle and let it sit out overnight (no lid) and the chlorine dissipates. The researcher also admitted he's "is a municipal water fan..."

  • Blue Oregonians Are Nuts (unverified)
    (Show?)

    First let me point out that we have successfully narrowed the discussion to the (stupidity of the) AA ban. And what the successive posters are in a snit about is their egos being challenged not the facts. Typical whiny, useless, PDX, progressive posers.

    Please note that these kinds of comments serve no purpose in any discussion other than to discourage other people from expressing their ideas.

    Quite the contrary, they serve a very important purpose. Some of us think that discouraging people from expressing dumb ideas, as a resort by letting them know they have dumb ideas because they just couldn't restrain themselves, can be a very good thing for all sides. We are spared juvenile stupidity, and people with dumb ideas get a chance to learn something before embarrassing themselves by letting everybody know they have dumb ideas.

    An OSU researcher says every year, world wide, 20-million barrels of OIL and 180 million gallons of FRESH water are used JUST to make plastic water bottle containers.

    Thanks for providing another shining example of the dumbness that sets the truly low level of information exchange on BO. As I pointed out: Those costs all can be translated into environmental impacts and the BALANCE between bottled water and alternatives in each specific circumstance --- like a city event --- can be calculated. Surprise, surprise, I was unable to find any such fair calculation from any advocates for such measures.

    And by the way: some healthy percentage of those bottles produced worldwide (your statistic) go to providing the only safe water to drink to large numbers of people in all parts of the world.

    Interestingly enough, that's exactly what people used to do before the advent of bottled water. Americans used to be ingenious enough to bring something to drink with them or to search out a drinking fountain (thus the ubiquitous Benson Bubblers).

    Doesn't mean it actually was the healthiest or actually the best for anyone in any sense. Particularly in mass public events where heavy use and all the health issues that come with that, and which, for the sake of people's stomachs, I won't enumerate here. In addition, PDX turns off the Benson Bubblers in the winter for several reasons that don't change even if this kind of inanity carried the day. And by the way, many folks didn't carry water or drink from water fountains, they purchased and drank the less healthy alternatives they switched away from when bottled water became available (and on the whole didn't drink enough water at all.)

    Finally, I keep tap water in plastic pitcher in my fridge for drinking, and for most of my daily routine get my drinking get water from a water cooler (into my own reusable plastic cup), or a drinking fountain. Unlike you BOAN, who really just didn't quite seem to complete the transition into the real, adult world of complex and varied viewpoints and life circumstances, some of us recognize the smart thing to do is encourage people to do sensible things like what I mention when they can, and encourage them to use bottled water, for health and environmental reasons, when that make sense.

    And frankly, it used to be that Portland actually had intelligent people and progressives. Too bad, too often it sure seems like the voices who insist on being heard make it seem like those days are long gone.

  • coyote (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Hey folks, would y'all mind actually reading Leslie's post and clicking on the relevant links before just firing off a response based purely on the headline?

    As the links make obvious, and she notes in a comment (for those of you who don't know that the blue text is the intertubelinky goodness) San Francisco and Ann Arbor DID NOT BAN BOTTLED WATER.

    They merely stopped buying it for city workers (SF) and allowing commercial vendors to sell it at city events (AA).

    If you're gonna argue with Leslie, at least argue with the argument she made -- not the argument you imagined that she made.

    Kari, if that's the root of her argument, she should have said so IN HER ORIGINAL POST, not indirectly through one of a dozen or so links. The title of her piece is "Banning Bottled Water," which seems a pretty straightforward statement to me. She says nothing about a limited ban on city purchases until well into the comments. So don't get yer panties in a bunch Mr. Moderator.

    Besides, the resulting discussion has been much more interesting than it would have been if she had just stated up front what she was advocating for, which is minor internal policy tweak that would affect a very small number of people.

  • Phh (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Why don't you call OSU and speak to the researcher? Unfortunately I don't have his name as the info is on a computer where I no longer work. The Public Info folks at OSU could probably direct you to the researcher.

  • Coyote (unverified)
    (Show?)

    As for the taste of Portland's water, some folks here seem to be under the impression that we get 100% of our water from Bull Run. We don't. A significant amount of water from the South Shore Well Field is mixed in with Bull Run water, especially during the summer. This well water is not nearly as nice as Bull Run water. But any bad taste is probably more likely to be the result of old pipes rather than a bad water supply. I was told at my former work place (a prominent non-profit) to minimize the amount of water I drank there because of the bad pipes. I couldn't taste it myself, but I stopped drinking the water anyway.

  • (Show?)

    Kari, if that's the root of her argument, she should have said so IN HER ORIGINAL POST, not indirectly through one of a dozen or so links.

    Fair enough--if I wasn't clear enough in my post, let me be clear now: I have no idea exactly what form a ban should take. It could be like Portland's Styrofoam ban (none sold w/in city limits), or something more limited like SF and Ann Arbor. I was hoping to get some ideas and stimulating discussion in the comments and hear what y'all think.

  • andy (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I like bottled water and I'll keep drinking it regardless of what anyone on BlueOregon has to say about the subject. The BlueOregon fascists are at it again, using the power of the state to take away freedom and personal choices from people that they don't like.

  • Dave Lister (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I buy bottled water from time to time when I am out and about and get thirsty. I usually end up refilling the bottles several times with good ole bull run and keeping them in the fridge. Eventually, they end up in my recycling tub.

    If you don't agree with abortion, don't have one.

    If you don't like bottled water, don't buy it.

    How about we just let people make their own choices?

  • (Show?)

    How about we just let people make their own choices?

    That's an option, and that's the choice that New York City has made, albeit with an educational campaign aimed at helping people understand the benefits of the local water supply and the downsides of bottled water.

  • (Show?)

    Wow, things have taken an ugly turn. Once again, anti-regulation libertarians label bloggers "fascists" because they have offered an opinion on a blog. Nice work!

    As to the ban (or whatever), I'd say you could augment the effect with some advertising. It has probably not crossed most Oregonians' minds that the oil required to produce a bottle of water (in the plastic and shipping) is so large. Telling them and requesting that they carry a bottle filled with good ol' Bull Run water would probably have a substantial effect.

    The anti-regulation folks are never going to brook any interference with their "rights" as consumers, but I'd definitely favor a multi-purpose effort cut back the use of water bottles. You could probably get grocers behind you, too, cause they hate this new expansion of the bottle bill.

  • (Show?)

    The more I think about it, the more it seems like this needs a mascot. I envision the Water Nazi. Much like Smokey Bear, he would make public appearances at schools and public events, but his tagline would be "No bottled water for you!" His arch-nemesis would be "Libertarian Man," a shopper who keeps trying to sneak bottled water in from California and sell it in PDX. In a series of amusing encounters, Water Nazi would foil these attempts, delivering the coup de grace with his characteristic "No bottled water for you!"

    [Hey, someone's got to keep the comedy coming now that the Weekly World News is calling it quits.]

  • BlueNote (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I have two comments.

    First, I have been involved as a board member of a "healthy communities" organization and we have spent the past couple of years trying (with some success) to get Coke and Pepsi to offer bottled water along side the usual sweet choices in their school vending machines - most of which are under contract to various Portland metro school districts. Now I guess we need to tell the kids to switch back to soda to save the planet? Seems counterproductive.

    Second, I am all in favor of greater public acceptance of refillable water bottles. They work great if you want to carry a quart of cool, refreshing (and clear) vodka & tonic with you to your favorite public park, Metro bus, sports venue, or even your 10th grade civics class.

    Cheers!

  • raul (unverified)
    (Show?)

    10th grade civics class? Are you serious? I have no idea where to start on that random act of dipstickness-

    All these folks are asking is " Why do we need to bus water from gad knows where, fill up our landfills with empty plastic bottles and waste all of the time and energy when we have perfectly good water here?"

    Conservative friends, didn't your mommys tell you not to be wasteful? Doesn't every possible religion tell you not to be wasteful?

    BlueNote and friends- are you really saying that restricting bottled water in PDX will lead to teen alcoholism- that those who are looking for ways to stop this waste are fascists and nazis?

    I hope you aren't reaching that far just because you fear losing an argument. Criminals are walking away with our Constitution, Bill of Rights, etc. but you knotheads will hold onto your water bottles and call anybody who questions this wasteful practice a nazi?

    What a bunch of jokers! What a reach !

  • BlueNote (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Raul, did you read the first paragraph of my post? I would be more interested in your response to that. The soda companies have the schools signed to multi-year contracts in exchange for cash payments, "free" scoreboards, stadium renovations, etc. I would rather have bottled water than bottled soda for sale in the Coke and Pepsi machines that the schools are required to have. Perhaps I am a minority of one on that issue.

    In re water bottles and 10th grade civics class, I was trying to be humorous and obviously off topic - apparently without success.

    Does anybody know how many family wage union jobs would be lost if Coke and Pepsi were prohibited from selling bottled water?

    PS - don't call me a conservative. You can call me a communist, a socialist, a nut, a progressive, maybe a libertarian, or a Democrat, but not a conservative.

    Better Red than Dead - Better Dead than Republican.

  • (Show?)

    They work great if you want to carry a quart of cool, refreshing (and clear) vodka & tonic with you to your favorite public park, Metro bus, sports venue, or even your 10th grade civics class.

    Actually, this is more right on than you might think.

    My high school only allowed us to bring in drinks that were sealed upon entering the class. Which of course means you'd better finish it in that class, because you couldn't take it to the next class. Why did they do this? Because kids were putting - you guessed it - vodka in their drinks.

    At first we could bring in water, but then they realized that kids were sneaking it in their water. So only soda/water bottles and cans that had not been opened yet were allowed.

    The practice of banning opened drinks is fairly common in schools, especially high schools. I don't know about this area, though, since we've had extremely limited exposure to the schools thus far since our child doesn't start school until this fall.

  • (Show?)

    Better Red than Dead - Better Dead than Republican.

    Dick Cheney can help you out with that...

  • (Show?)

    Quite the contrary, they serve a very important purpose. Some of us think that discouraging people from expressing dumb ideas, as a resort by letting them know they have dumb ideas because they just couldn't restrain themselves, can be a very good thing for all sides. We are spared juvenile stupidity, and people with dumb ideas get a chance to learn something before embarrassing themselves by letting everybody know they have dumb ideas.

    None of the comments I quoted spoke to anyone's ideas at all. They were merely more name calling on your part--one of the very stupidest forms of juvenile stupidity that exists.

  • Rasputin (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I'm glad that everyone was able to completely skip over my post without addressing it a single time.

    If you don't agree with abortion, don't have one.

    If you don't like bottled water, don't buy it.

    How about we just let people make their own choices? And if you don't believe in car theft, don't steal anyone's car! Makes perfect sense, fool. I really wish people would take a logic class sometimes before venturing forth into the world of debate... Making bottled water illegal makes sense after we've tackled some bigger environmental issues: making cigarettes illegal making driving a car illegal making watching films illegal (projectors use TONS of power) banning the printing of books (trees are CO2 sinks)

    After all of those higher priorities, then we should ban plastic water bottles. PS. By itself, Google uses approximately 20 gigawatts of power at all times, just for their servers. Shut down the internet and we'll make a HUGE dent in the carbon footprint of the world.

    Who's with me!?

  • proud lefty (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I agree fully on a ban of bottled water. Bottled water represents what is wrong with America, wretched excessiveness, laziness, pretentiousness and absolute selfishness. What a waste of resources all mentioned above, and how can anyone state they care about the environment if they buy bottled water. There should be NO complaining at all about gas prices by anyone who buys bottled water; it costs much more than gas. How easy is it to buy a Nalgene bottle container, have a Brita water filter/pitcher in your house to remove any chlorine taste, and to anticipate your water needs. I have never bought water, I hike and camp regularly, and never have problems. The water here is so good you can take it straight from the tap. I use my Brita filters for twice the recommended time because of the purity of the water here, and don't use it all if I plan ahead and place water in an uncovered pitcher, the chlorine works its way out. It amazes me to see the sheep buying cases of water at Costco or Trader Joes; water that is usually just filtered muni water. And don't get me started on Imported water!!

  • Blue Oregonians Are Nuts (unverified)
    (Show?)

    None of the comments I quoted spoke to anyone's ideas at all. They were merely more name calling on your part--one of the very stupidest forms of juvenile stupidity that exists.

    doretta, in context, the comments you quoted out of context did in fact speak quite approriately and accurately to several aspects of one truly ignorant idea, and the statistics of this very thread show them to be quite representative of exactly the people it quite appropriately and accurately characterized. Your comments are yet another good example of the fundamental childishness, combined with a truly high level of intellectual dishonesty, that is one of the biggest obstacles we face in the fight for progressive governance.

    Fortunately, we make most electoral progress by letting the larger voting population know just how nuts, uninformed, and obnoxious most of us consider the goofy fringe, as represented by their own comments, to be. Thanks go to you, Leslie, Kari, Jeff and some of the other commenters for providing such abundant raw material to work with.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Bottled water is expensive. It creates waste. It uses energy. These are good reasons to not drink it, but a ban seems heavy-handed. Should we not then ban soda pop, which carries the same negatives as water, but is also bad for our health? How about beer, which can lead to alcohol addiction? How about people who object to drinking chlorinated water when away from there home water filter? What if flouridation of public water becomes a mandate?

    It makes more sense to require reusable containers and educate the public so they make more rational choices. Regulation is a valuable tool, but it should be used with care.

  • dj (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I have not seen the word "river" in any of these posts.

    Many bottled water companies are in the process of locating bottling sites at the headwaters and springs that feed ecologically significant rivers. Go read Robert Glennon's Water Follies and see what the adverse effects of these operations can be on specific waterways. Or see the latest edition of High Country News.

    Water has a value we have not yet begun to account for. At 89 cents for 16 plus or minus ounces at the 7-11, we are paying approximately $7.00/gallon for bottled water. Crude oil on the world spot market is around $70.00/barrel for 42 gallons - something like $1.60/gallon. So, we are paying almost four times as much for bottled water as we pay for crude and twice what we pay for gasoline.

    In Oregon, and across the West, a bottler pays nothing for the water that will be bottled - nothing. It is public's water, a public resource, just like a state forest, a beach, a state park campground and all of the other public resources that benefit all of us and that we all own as members of the public. Yet there is no charge to the bottler for the resource.

    We can ban or not ban bottled water, but the issues that we really ought to focus more attention on are the effects of these bottling operations on sensitive waterways, the unconscionable giveaway that occurs when we charge absolutely nothing for private use and of a very valuable public resource and the ongoing privatization of water - a public resource.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
    (Show?)

    dj,

    I agree that water privitazation is a serious issue, but if we are going to be alarmed that good quality water is being used to drink, we had better get very serious about population control very quickly.

  • (Show?)

    Banning the sale of water--even in city-sponsored venues--seems overpowering, certainly at this stage of the game. Whatever happened to incentivizing? Instead of preventing people at Edgefield (where I saw the Decemberists Sunday, and who prevented opened water from being taken in I suspect for the alcohol-related reasons above) from hypothetically selling water in bottles...how about instead mandating that where bottled water is to be sold, NON-bottled water must also be provided for free at each sale point? This frees people (not only consumers but vendors) to make their own choice, AND avoids the worry that people will just switch to non-water beverages instead. In schools, you could restrict beverage machines to the cafeteria area, or that a free-flowing water station (fountain, cooler, tap) not be more than 25 ft away from any machine. Are fountains mandated in City buildings, at least one per floor? They oughta be.

  • (Show?)

    And I'm starting to get the cold sweats...for the last two weeks or so, every time Coyote comments I end up nodding my head in agreement. Hold me!

  • (Show?)

    In schools, you could restrict beverage machines to the cafeteria area, or that a free-flowing water station (fountain, cooler, tap) not be more than 25 ft away from any machine.

    That works great to grab a quick drink. However, that doesn't solve the problem that you can't take that water into class with you. If you're lucky enough to be in a school that allows you to bring in drinks that aren't sealed, you could bring your own cup to use. But that's going to be a rarity amongst K-12 students.

    At lunchtime they should definitely have a water dispenser set up (a cooler or whatever) that has free ice water in it, and cups to put it into. A lot of kids have a limited lunch budget, and I know I sure would have preferred being able to spend more on lunch and instead get a cup of water instead of something else (except on days when I was tired and needed the caffeine).

    And maybe they should consider having a small cooler or pitcher with a spigot or whatever in the classrooms where drinks are allowed. Have some cups and water available for the kids to drink. That would cut down on the need to watch for whether or not a drink is sealed upon entering the room and reduce the need for bottled water and sodas.

    Classrooms can be very dry and you can get dehydrated quick, which is why so many classes allow drinks. They could completely ban outside drinks in the class and use the water in the classes instead.

    Of course some schools are so old they have bad pipes (same with many government buildings), and drinking the water in the school isn't an option. But maybe they could work a deal with the water delivery companies like they do with Coke and Pepsi.

  • dj (unverified)
    (Show?)

    The issue is really not whether we will have enough water to drink. While those who want to stockpile water rights from our rivers and aquifers may use this as an issue, we have enough water high quality to drink for a long time. Whether we should be watering our lawns, washing our cars and moving around our wastes with high quality drinking water is another question. Everything we do with water we could do with less water.

    High priced bottled water is a convenience and luxury product that did not exist in the market until relatively recently. Bottled water is not and should not be considered as a source of drinking water. We should not be alarmed about using good quality water to drink. We should be alarmed about some of the myths that are used to degrade our rivers in the name of water supply and the privatization of this public resource.

    Population growth and water is an issue, but the results of the interaction can be counterintuitive. Population growth need not translate into increased water demand. Seattle has grown by over 400,000 people since the mid 1970s and now uses less water than it used in 1964. According to the USGS, municipal water use declined in Oregon despite adding 250,000 new state residents between 1990 and 2000.

    The argument that a growing population necessarily necessarily needs new water supplies ignores the data and the role water conservation can play as a means of creating new supplies. Add proper pricing of water (and if people are willing to pay 7 bucks a gallon for bottled water, they ought to be willing to pay a bit more for muni water), and we can likely conserve our way out of many of the supply issues touted as reasons to further degrade rivers like the Clackamas with multiple and overlapping new municipal demands on the resource.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
    (Show?)

    dj,

    Yes, we can certainly use less water per capita through conservation strategies, but at whatever our level of wise-use, more people use more water, as with every other resource. Environmentalists are playing a game to placate those involved in social services, in which they pretend that population is not an environmental problem. While social service oriented folks are correct that over-reproduction can be halted by increasing the economic security of the poor, the likelihood of significant progress in that area is low. Chances are that the end of cheap energy, itself, will substantially increase the number of economically insecure people. The effects of Global Warming will augment this.

    As fraught with sociological traps as it is, environmentalists are going to need to admit that more people is not a good idea, whether that is caused by above replacement childbearing or by immigration. At present, environmentalists are guilty of ignoring the finite nature of resources, just as are those who oppose environmental protection ignore it. Always diverting the conversation to conservation denies mathematical certainty:

    total resource use = total population x per capita resource use

    This is inescapable and must be confronted.

  • (Show?)

    Leslie, This makes total sense, of course. Glad someone is trying to generate interest in the topic. I've been grumping about this for years. Check out an article this month in Fast Company magazine, about bottled water. http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/117/features-message-in-a-bottle.html. This really makes the case for all the limousine liberals who buy bottled water to get off of it.

    I've always thought bottled water was one of the ultimate triumphs of Reaganism: He fostered so much distrust against gov't that even the liberals have come to believe that our gov't can't possibly be giving us clean water. And secondly, as marketing has become even more prevalent in this era of less gov't, and corporate sponships to make up the loss, etc., we've been duped by all the marketing around water. The Reagan era (which I believe we are still in) put a premium on huckstering and branding. His presidency was much about that, and sadly, much of our world is about that. Even our most essential source of survival.

  • raul (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Hello BlueNote!

    Sure I will comment on your first paragraph, hopefully you will check back and see that I did....

    In the late 90s when we were attempting to put " soft drink " machines in schools, I was a candidate for the state leg, and stopping that nonsense was a big part of my campaign. Corporate sponsorship in schools is bad, in my opinion, but common sense also tells me that children full of caffeine and sugar will have a difficult time sitting still in class to learn. These two drugs may also create a greater incidence of disciplinary problems. Simple.

    The criminilization of teenagers is the part I objected to. A very large majority of children who attend school are there to learn, and treating them as if they are in the line at the airport tends to demoralize while acclimating them to being searched and being under a cloud of suspicion. Working in high school and middle school environments ( I am a parent, not a teacher ) is the best way for me to have some hope for the future. The greater majority of these children are very bright, polite and earnest.

    Are there better ways to tell if a child is drinking alcohol in class? One would think that even if a child isn't acting intoxicated, the alcoholic beverage would have a very distinct and permeating smell. Is this really such a widespread problem? To such a degree that we must support using bottled water and throwing all of those bottles in our landfills and all of the other inherent waste and corporate crookedness involved in that industry?

    Simple solution: drinking fountains. Thirsty during class? Wait until between periods, just like you do when you have to go to the toilet.

    But clearly this is entirely too complicated- let's just keeping dumping all of those Dasani bottles in the landfills.

    And BlueNote- take a look at how CocaCola treats union members inside and outside the US- find me a unionized Coke employee, and I'll buy you a Pepsi ! Also, my apologies for smearing you with that conservative broad brush- sincerely without sarcasm.

  • (Show?)

    Actually, the reason why vodka is the alcohol that many people put into drinks in order to avoid detection is its low smell/taste.

    And kids don't have to wait to use the bathroom -- they can get a pass to go.

    Kids shouldn't have to wait for between classes to get a drink. By the time you feel thirsty, you are already getting dehydrated. This concept of allowing kids a quick drink of water a few times a day, and some liquids at lunch, is not enough to get them through the day - and it is not healthy. My doctor used to always encourage me to keep water with me to drink in class. Many classrooms have a dry atmosphere and will dehydrate you faster than you may think.

    That's why I think maybe school should look at offering cold drinking water and cups. It could be kept near the teacher to ensure no one messes with the water, if necessary. This would even allow them to stop allowing outside drinks to be brought into the classroom.

  • Doug Dingus (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I don't think a ban makes any sense.

    The comment above on educating first is spot on.

    Much better to just inform people about the true cost of that water, it's quality in comparison to their tap, and alternatives, such as filters.

    A while back, we had a program where people could get the new low energy bulbs for a very low cost. That was subsidized by the power utility. Why not do the same for water? Make filters available, and insure some education comes along for the ride?

    Anyone participating in the filter program can get a voucher for some amount off their water bill, get the filter cheap, etc...

    If bottled water is first demonstrated to be a net loss kind of thing, and the bottle bill expansion kicks in, suddenly, bottled watter is more of a hassle than it once was, and people will think about it.

    A well timed education effort, that leverages the bottle bill expansion, will have quite an impact at a lower political cost, IMHO.

  • Dave Lister (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Rasputin:

    I really admire the courage of your convictions. Too bad you're too gutless to put your own name on your posts.

  • (Show?)

    Dave writes: How about we just let people make their own choices?

    Because individual choices may have negative social consequences. And these negative externalities are seldom paid by the individual.

    The mistake Leslie made is in suggesting an outright ban, rather than using the positive power of incentives to make the consumers of bottled water offset some of the externalities.

    You could place a deposit on bottled water. Better yet, you could buy bottled water in biodegradable containers for no deposit and only require deposits for the petroleum based bottles.

  • Jacquelyn Poarch (unverified)
    (Show?)

    I am an immune compromised individual. I have a genetic disease called Shwachman-Diamond Syndrome. It is a bone marrow failure disease. Individuals who are immune compromised should not drink tap water, due to the risk of contracting infection or disease, which we cannot fight, from water which has not been completely filtered or boiled.

    Bottled water has been filtered, usually through a reverse osmosis filter, which eleiminates all contaminants. It may have come from a municipal water source originally, but it has been filtered. We drink bottled water to reduce our risk factor. By eliminating bottled water for sale, you are putting us at great risk.

    A deposit system would most likely reduce the amout of bottles which are simply thrown away, yet allow us to continue to have safe available drinking water.

  • Smith (unverified)
    (Show?)

    Bottled water has been filtered, usually through a reverse osmosis filter, which eliminates all contaminants. I usually drink bottled water and i am really very healthy, so drink bottled water than tap water. For more information about bottled water just log on to.... Bottled Water

connect with blueoregon