Water’s Bottle Battle Enters New Phase…

Europeans were long known for drinking bottled water “because tap water wasn’t safe,” letting Americans feel smug because we had all happily guzzled ours from the taps for decades without a thought–and without health problems. Then somebody thought to make bottled water a snob-intellectual-social superiority item and got rich selling it in the U.S. Botttled water vending machines appeared next to coke manchines and super markets stocked the stuff. You can fool all of the people, some of the time. Or nearly.

Then something happened. An American tourist in Italy noticed a waiter in a restaurant filing empty water bottles from the tap. Somebody noticed the large numbers of Americans who didn’t drink the bottled stuff (ignorant louts) but somehow survived and even raised healthy kids. Bottled water sales leveled out. Addicts defended their habit from friends with knowledge of chemistry by claiming it tastes better. The chemists just laughed and turned the tap. Taste non est disputandum, right?

The water bottles clogged the landfills for future archaelogists to find (they’re immortal); that was hard for green snobs to justify and some of the elite began to give up their habit. Now, we know the bottled water war is lost: “Ivy Colleges Shun Bottled Water” just came from Bloomberg News (3/11/2012), reporting that Harvard, Brown and some 88 other colleges are banning or restricting sales of bottled water on their campuses. Instead, they recommend using refillable stainless steel bottles; they’re providing “hydration stations” around campus to refill them with filtered water. The water bottlers are beside themselves though the rumor they’re researching methods for selling scented air are probably exaggerated. Anyway, that’s been a normal municipal service in L.A. for ages.

A Dartmough environmental studies major was quoted:”The product just doesn’t make common sense…companies are taking something that is freely accessible to everyone on the Dartmouth campus, packaging it in a non-reusable container and selling it under the pretense that it is somehow better than tap water.”

You can’t fool all of the people, all of the time. But for a half-century or so, you can make a lot of money before anyone much notices…and I’ll bet that somehow, “hydration stations” cost a lot more than drinking fountains…

About Jack Curtis

Suspicious of government, doubtful of economics, fond of figure skating (but the off-ice part, not so much) Couple of degrees in government, a few medals in figure skating; just reading and suspicion for economics ...
This entry was posted in Environment, Food, water and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Water’s Bottle Battle Enters New Phase…

  1. Can Americans really not taste the difference between chlorinated tap water and pure mineral water? Chlorine is very harmful if you have a thyroid deficiency (which I do) and not good for your intestinal flora either – which weakens your immune system.
    I’d be amazed if anyone could drink Italian tap water and think it was mineral water. It’s like a gulp of swimming pool! Lots of places in Italy do have water straight from a natural spring piped to their houses. There are street fountains of natural mineral water all over Italy where the locals take bottles to fill up. Perhaps that’s what the waiter was doing? He certainly couldn’t trick Italians with ordinary chlorinated tap water.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s