Green-minded cities are working to encourage residents to trade in their bottled water for tap water, which is often the same thing (most bottled water is purified tap water).
The City Council of Ann Arbor, Michigan, passed a resolution banning the use of bottled water at any city-affiliated event, noting that local tap water has received awards for quality.
Ann Arbor officials say that in general, few plastic bottles are ever recycled, and they take 450 years to break down in a landfill.
Michigan House Democrats, worried that water bottlers are staging a run on already-depleted Great Lakes aquifers, also recently passed a series of new environmental regulations.
In Britain, the Green Party wants people to think twice before ordering bottled water at a restaurant, even if it makes them look cheap.
They note that bottled water, which is more popular than Coca-Cola in some places, is 500 times more expensive than tap water and that 25 percent of all bottled water is imported, creating pollution from fossil-fuel transport emissions.
In New York City, city officials are promoting their own “delicious,” “fat-free,” and “refreshing” tap water.
Bottled water still has the edge there in terms of convenience, but over time they hope people will learn to carry a reusable water bottle with them instead.
The bottled water industry responds to critics by saying that it only takes a tiny percentage of all groundwater in the U.S. every year, compared to municipal and agricultural uses.
And they say bottled water must meet EPA standards for public health, although neither the EPA nor the FDA inspects them that often.
An FDA spokesman told the Ann Arbor News that the industry’s safety record prevented the need for frequent inspections.
“Lawmakers put bottlers in hot water”
Ann Arbor News, July 13, 2007
“Brits ‘should go green by drinking tap water'”
Life Style Extra (U.K.), July 13, 2007
“City seeks to pull plug on bottled water”
Newsday (NY), July 13, 2007