Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bottled Water..and Botox

If someone had told me when I was growing up that there was a lot - and I mean a lot - of money to be made from putting water into a bottle and selling it, I would have thought the person telling me this was simply nuts. Show's you how much I know.

Last year some 41billion gallons of water was sold in bottles at a cost of US$100b.

For this same sum, everyone man, women and child in the world could have access to clean water.

Its not as if bottled water, in most of the developed world, is better than tap water. In some cases, bottled water has been found to be either not as safe as tap water or (at least in one case in the UK) it actually is tap water.

What makes all this even more amazing is that we are willing to pay more for bottled water than we are for a litre than for gasoline.

Tap water comes to us through an energy-efficient infrastructure whereas bottled water must be transported long distances--and nearly one-fourth of it across national borders--by boat, train, airplane, and truck. This involves burning massive quantities of fossil fuels. By way of example, in 2004 alone, a Helsinki company shipped 1.4 million bottles of Finnish tap water 4,300 kilometers (2,700 miles) to Saudi Arabia. And although 94 percent of the bottled water sold in the United States is produced domestically, some Americans import water shipped some 9,000 kilometers from Fiji and other faraway places to satisfy demand for ''chic and exotic bottled water.''

More fossil fuels are used in packaging the water. Most water bottles are made with polyethylene terephthalate, a plastic derived from crude oil. ''Making bottles to meet Americans' demand for bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel some 100,000 U.S. cars for a year,'' according to one source. Worldwide, some 2.7 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water each year.

Once it has been emptied, the bottle must be dumped. According to the Container Recycling Institute, 86 percent of plastic water bottles used in the United States become garbage or litter. Incinerating used bottles produces toxic by-products such as chlorine gas and ash containing heavy metals tied to a host of human and animal health problems. Buried water bottles can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.

Of the bottles deposited for recycling in 2004, the United States exported roughly 40 percent to destinations as far away as China--meaning that even more fossil fuels were burned in the process.

Meanwhile, communities from near which the water came in the first place risk running dry. More than 50 Indian villages have complained of water shortages after bottlers began extracting water for sale under Coca-Cola Co.'s Dasani label, EPI said. Similar problems have been reported in Texas and in the Great Lakes region of North America, where farmers, fishers, and others who depend on water for their livelihoods are suffering from concentrated water extraction as water tables drop quickly.

''Bottled water is not guaranteed to be any healthier than tap water. In fact, roughly 40 percent of bottled water begins as tap water; often the only difference is added minerals that have no marked health benefit,'' EPI said. France's Senate, it added, ''even advises people who drink bottled mineral water to change brands frequently because the added minerals are helpful in small amounts but may be dangerous in higher doses.''

To be sure, many municipal water systems have run afoul of government water quality standards--driving up demand for bottled water as a result. But according to the study, ''in a number of places, including Europe and the United States, there are more regulations governing the quality of tap water than bottled water.''

So there we have it..

Now I am looking for really odd ideas that might just catch on. Like just yesterday, as I empted my fridge, I was wondering if there was a social use of the toxin from saussages that have gone off ? I know that this very toxin here has been used in biological warfare but what about..... oh, just a moment, that's already on the market as BOTOX. Something else I find simply amazing...

Maybe I should stick to reading..

(All this reminds me of my mother's reaction to pantyhose (called "tights" in Britain). In the 1950's and 60's women were still wearing stockings and garter belts (ah...yes..) and then tights appeared. Mother didn't think they would catch on... well, what if one leg has a ladder, you'll have to throw out the good leg as, it'll never catch on...". Show's you how much she knew as well....)

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