By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Every time I walk into a grocery I see a display of plastic bottled water right up front. Needless, stupid bottled water.

Plastic water bottles in cases at SproutsThis is usually being sold for well below what it probably cost to put the case of water in that store, which attests to the extreme popularity of bottled water.

Needless, stupid bottled water.

These cases of water, found even in health food and “alternative” groceries which target green shoppers, are “loss leaders.” That is, they’re not really making any money for the groceries, but they are offering consumers a convenience, which can subtly lead them to frequent the store.

Surfrider and many other groups have been working hard to explain to people that they don’t need bottled water. There are alternatives that are safe and inexpensive. The first option: Try tap water! It gushes conveniently from the kitchen sink. Most tap water is perfectly safe, and it can be filtered in a variety of ways to exclude contaminants or chemicals of concern, such as the traces of chlorine or nitrates that get through the water treatment process.

Step two: Take the tap water with you in a reusable steel bottle, or a reusable, recyclable hard plastic bottle.

Why do you want to trouble yourself with these two simple steps?

That’s easy. You will be helping save the planet in many ways. That disposable plastic bottle you forgo won’t end up in a landfill (most of them do, despite recycling) leaching chemicals and taking up space for a couple centuries.

If you skip the disposable plastic bottle, it won’t end up on a beach, or in a river, or in the ocean, where it will not degrade (for 700 years or so) but is highly likely to kill or sicken marine life.

This isn’t a problem we should ponder and deal with later.

People in the U.S. use about 60 million plastic bottles every day, according to Ban the Bottle, and about 80 percent of them land at the dump or become free-floating trash, typically ending up in waterways and the ocean. We are choking wildlife with our plastic refuse; it’s only a matter of time before we’re knee-deep in this trash ourselves.

EarthLust 13oz_squirrel_grande

Earth Lust’s taken reusable water bottles to a new level of design.

Did I mention that it takes about 700 years for bottles to degrade? That’s an estimation of course, but so far, all we see from plastic is that it breaks into little plastic balls that persist, creating a plastic ocean soup.

To put this in perspective, if Christopher Columbus had had bottled water, we’d still be dealing with his plastic trash.

Check out the Rise Above Plastics campaign by Surfrider for more information on the devastation that plastic is raining on our oceans.  The RAP campaign is running a contest in October for the best spooky Halloween-themed plastic waste artwork. This is perfect for young science students.

Winners will receive a pair of Teva sandals and a reusable water bottle.

And if you haven’t yet stopped buying environmentally unfriendly flats of plastic bottles, don’t worry. You can stop today.

Treat yourself to a cool, durable water bottle. There are many brands. We recently discovered Earth Lust bottles, which have some wonderful artwork, and are made of recyclable stainless steel.

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