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Feb 042011

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Frugal meet frivolous. But the players are not who you think. Those Washington lawmakers wielding the budget ax — they’re the ones with the frivolous habit.

(Photo: GreenRightNow.com)

And it’s caught the eye of a frugal watchdog group, whose supporters are pushing back at members of the House of Representatives for wasting money on bottled water.

As non-green habits go, bottled water has become a difficult one to defend. Once we Americans thought we needed this purportedly healthier water. Then studies showed that most of the water being sold back to us came from the public tap. It was a marketing, not a health, success. And the whole process was a big energy drain. Bottled water takes an environmental toll at every juncture — when the bottle is made, filled, shipped and then discarded to the landfill. Furthermore, of all the many green changes we can make, this one is as easy as rediscovering your kitchen faucet.

Corporate Accountability International , a corporate responsibility group based in Boston, started the campaign, entitled “Tell the House of Representatives to Ditch Bottled Water and Save Taxpayer Dollars”. It’s being hosted by Change.org, which let’s people set up online campaigns for um, change.

The CAI had heard that the bottled water habit had so run amok among legislators that the House spent $190,000 on bottled water in the first quarter of 2010. (We’re still trying to double check this figure, because, wow, that’s a lot.)

If members’ consumption remained steady, it would take them only about 16 months to hit $1 million in bottled water costs.

Where’s the American Chemistry Council when we need them? These well-funded, pro-plastic lobbyists could pick up the tab to keep Congress supplied with bottled water and out of step with current trends. American taxpayers would be relieved of the tab.

It appears Americans might prefer a more permanent fix, though, because the Change.org campaign is becoming pretty popular. The number of people petitioning on this issue is approaching 50,000.

The CAI’s overview letter shows that the American people, if not their elected representatives, are pretty saavy about the economics:

“Bottled water is not safer or healthier than tap water, and often comes from the tap anyway. It can be up to 1,900 times more expensive, and the energy needed to produce the plastic is enough to fuel nearly 3 million cars for a year. Nearly one million tons of plastic water bottles are discarded as litter each year, ending up in landfills, lakes and streams.”

I’m not sure its 1,900 times more expensive, but it’s clearly more expensive. If it’s even 10 times more expensive, we should look for alternatives.

If the House needs to throw this money around, why not fix those aging pipes in need of repair in so many of our cities Then we could continue to use that vast, ingenious underground network developed to deliver safe drinking water to our homes.

Copyright © 2011 Green Right Now | Distributed by GRN Network