While ranting to my mom about my personal peeve with the overpackaging of otherwise green products, I mentioned that I had written a letter to Seventh Generation asking why their paper towels are wrapped in plastic although their toilet paper is wrapped in paper. My mom replied, "I don't even know where to find Seventh Generation paper towels."
I thought my mom hit on a major point. Many, many Americans are in the same boat as my parents, who live in a small town in Kentucky. They want to be more environmentally conscious, but the only place to shop is Walmart, and their town doesn't even collect recycling.
Luckily, there are still things they can do, and one of the simplest green steps they can take is to break up with bottled water.
I can already hear the protests:
"But my tap water isn't clean!"
The truth is, at least 40 percent of bottled water is tap water anyway, and most tap water meets the EPA's standards for water quality. But if you're still concerned about the cleanliness of your tap water, you can always buy a filter.
"But bottled water is more convenient!"
Buy a reusable water bottle. Get a nice stainless steel model, or go the No Impact Man route: recycle a glass jar. Seriously, if my kids can learn to carry a water bottle with them when they leave the house, you can do it too.
"I already reuse my water bottle. And then I recycle it."
Kudos on the reusing and recycling. The problem here is that the plastic used to make water bottles (PET) is not meant for multiple use and can lead to nasty stuff like bacteria and chemical-leaching.
"But bottled water tastes better!"
Okay, if you really like the taste of plastic, you've got me there, but at least consider that tap water costs on average .2 cents per gallon. That's 750-2700 times cheaper than bottled water. To find out how much money you're wasting on bottled water, check out this bottled water cost calculator from the New American Dream.
Need more reasons to give up bottled water? Peruse the Break the Bottled Water Habit challenge from the New American Dream and watch the movie Tapped.
A version of this post originally appeared on my personal blog, The Conscious Shopper, on October 22, 2008. Since I wrote it, I've added another item to my list of personal peeves: Attending so-called "green" events that serve bottled water. This drives me crazy! Or going to advocacy meetings with other greenies who are drinking bottled water. I remind myself that not everyone is on the same green level as me and that I am certainly an imperfect greenie myself. But still...carrying a reusable water bottle is such a simple step. It's like Going Green 101.
If you're still drinking bottled water, please consider obtaining a stainless steel water bottle. You'll recoup the cost after 10-20 uses. Simple, green, and frugal!