Bottled water? Just say no.

Oops… during a presentation to a high school audience last week, I let it slip that one of my greatest environmental frustrations is bottled water.

Why bottled water?  Because:

  • Most bottled water is not natural spring water, but merely filtered tap water.
  • Most bottled water is not local; it’s trucked long distances and has a huge transportation footprint.
  • The Maritimes have plenty of clean, clear water; surely it’s the last thing we should be sending our money out-of-province for!
  • Most empty water bottles are not recycled; instead, they end up in landfills, roadsides or waterways. A recent study warned that the world’s oceans may contain more plastic than fish by 2050.  Yuck!
  • The water bottles that are recycled don’t come back as bottles; they’re ‘downcycled’ into products like carpet, which eventually end up in a landfill anyway.

You can make a difference, with one simple choice: seek out a tap or fountain, and, whenever possible, just say no to bottled water. On the tree of environmental solutions, it’s hard to find lower hanging fruit.

“A glass of tap water, no ice, no straw, please”

I try to make that line part of my routine when ordering at a restaurant, but I forgot once again last week.  So, in the depths of a January freeze, I was served a glass of water that was one-third ice, with a plastic straw that I didn’t use.  That means most of the energy and resources that went into my drink were wasted, because they went into things I didn’t want.
It seems the default in many restaurants is to serve water with lots of ice (no matter what time of year) and at least one straw.  That’s tons of ice and hundreds of thousands of straws, every single day, just in this country.
Perhaps we can do better.  Imagine if all restaurant patrons made the same simple request: tap water, no ice (or one cube if you insist), no straw.  It’s only a small thing, but what a difference small actions make when undertaken by many.
So the next time you eat out, why not try to remember, “A glass of tap water, no ice, no straw, please.”