October 16, 2007

Students Raise Awareness Of Bottled Water’s Harm

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Studies have repeatedly shown that water is good for our body, but what about bottled water and the environment?
Christina Copeland ’11, through her Bottled Water Campaign, is attempting to show the Cornell community that drinking bottled water is not only bad for the environment, but also that the water is no different than tap water.
“My ‘water bottle team’ and I just finished making up five different signs with the key water bottle facts on them,” Copeland said.
These facts include CNN news excerpts proclaiming that Aquafina and Dasani are no different than tap water, facts about plastic water bottle manufacturing process, which requires 1.5 million barrels of crude oil a year and information about the transportation of water bottles. 13,700 18-wheelers are used per week to transport one billion bottles of water across the world.
Signs displaying these facts and more will be appear throughout campus in the near future.
“We are getting 300 copies made and putting them up around campus, hopefully in bus stops and bathroom stalls where people will have the chance to about water bottle transportation.
“With President Skorton’s signing of the President’s Climate Commitment, we need to take into account the global warming pollution that water bottles produce because you must transport them from very far places. Reducing or eliminating their use would reduce that pollution,” he said.
Transportation is especially significant when considering the particular brand Fiji water, which proudly proclaims that it has to be transported from the remote island where it gets its name.
“Elimination of these water bottles from far away places is realistic. We aren’t required to purchase water bottles that come from Fiji. We can purchase those sold in our state for pretty much the same cost,” Rymer continued.
The Cornell community is far from guilt-free in its water bottle consumption.
Bo Bragg, a manager at Bear Necessities, said, “We probably go through 340 20 oz. bottles [of water] a day and 60 six-packs of water. We go through a lot of water here.”
“Our main goal is writing the proposal to have Nalgenes [reusable water bottles] be sold in vending machines in the slot next to the bottled water, so people can easily make more sustainable choices, and [we hope to have] a filtered option for water to fill the Nalgenes somewhere in the building,” Copeland said.
Caitlin Corner-Dolbff ’08, vice president of the Society for Natural Resources Conservation, said, “I feel that drinking bottled water is absurd. Bottled water has caught on due to convenience and marketing, but like many aspects of American life, it is time for us to recognize the actual implications of our consumption patterns and make changes. I understand that people often drink bottled water due to taste differences, so we need filtered water, not bottled water.”
However, the taste differences may not be as pronounced as many think. Mitchell Fried ’10 was chosen to test the differences between tap and bottled water in AEM 240: Marketing.
“Two of our T.A.s came to talk to us about how water bottling companies market water as a superior drink, yet it is the same as tap water,” Fried said. “They did an experiment I participated in to see if we could tell the difference between tap and bottled water.”
According to Fried, two out of three students picked the tap water over the bottled water for its superior taste.
“[The T.A.s] advocated drinking tap water over bottled water because there are no health benefits or difference in taste between tap and bottled water, and it’s better for the environment to drink tap,” Fried said.
Rymer also addressed the difference in health benefits between tap and bottled water.
“While bottled water undergoes eight tests under Environmental Protection Agency requirements, tap water must undergo 22 different tests. The problem is that people believe that tap water is not good to drink; we need to educate the public that tap water is called drinking water because it is perfectly clean of anything harmful,” said Rymer.
“Evian is naïve spelled backward,” Fried said