As I have been reading the submissions to the Climate Justice Initiative, I kept wondering if there was an issue that I needed to speak up for and I kept hearing a voice say “water”. When I thought about it some more, I realized that since there were so many different issues on the subject, it would be hard to discuss them all, I picked one that I see every day.
This issue is the consumption of bottled water. While I occasionally purchase bottled water, I do try to use my water filter for drinking and cooking and my reusable water bottle as much as possible. In August, I read an article in the Washington Post titled “America’s growing love affair with the most wasteful thing to drink there is.” (See link below) The article discussed how the environmental footprint of bottled water is much greater than the footprint of the water that comes out of the tap. Besides saying that most of the plastic bottles the water comes in are not recycled, the article also mentioned that it takes three liters of water to make one liter of bottled water!
This article reminded me of a conversation I had earlier in the summer with a friend from school and she asked me when I thought the “water wars” were going to start. Without hesitation I answered, “They already have.” We went on to talk about how the drought restrictions in California were causing an uproar between farmers and the bottled water manufactures. We also discussed how Nestle wants to put a new bottled water factory in our state of Oregon along the Columbia River. Even though this factory will bring needed jobs to this area, there has been considerable pushback and opponents are currently trying to put a measure on the ballot to basically stop it from being built.
It has been very dry in the western part of the United States. In Oregon, most of the state has been declared under “drought conditions” by the governor. This includes the area Nestle wants to build their factory. People are concerned about shipping water out of an area that is technically under a drought.
So, what can women in the United States do to make sure our water is used as resourcefully as possible? After I read the Washington Post article I kept thinking why we are so tap water adverse? Is it the marketing of bottled water’s convenience? Is it due to a perceived belief that tap water is somehow inferior or not safe? I do realize in some parts of the country there are contaminated ground water tables and in others there are water delivery infrastructure issues due to the lack of money to upgrade facilities. But for the rest of us, is bottled water the best answer? Would the purchase of a water filter be a better choice?
Even if the western United States experiences the much needed winter storms this year, I believe the “water wars” will continue on. I think one of the first steps we can be doing is take a look at our own bottled water use and decide if we should change a consumption habit and if so act on it.It's Time for Action on Climate Change. Join Us!