Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Calculate how much your water habit costs~

The real cost of bottled water

from an article in 'The Age' 2007

AUSTRALIA'S love affair with bottled water is costing the planet 314,000 barrels of oil a year.
That's how much of one of the world's most precious resources it takes to package, ship and refrigerate a product that is already piped to every single suburban premises for next to nothing, according toSunday Age calculations.
"It's one of the greatest cons ever pulled," says Clean Up Australia chairman Ian Kiernan. "It's just lunacy, there is no other word for it. We are squandering our oil resources."
Oil is not the only precious resource being squandered by consumers, with bottled water 2500 times more expensive than the tap variety.
"Drinking water in Melbourne or Sydney costs around $1.20 a tonne," says Mr Kiernan. "Australian bottled water costs around $3000 a tonne. And Italian bottled water? About $9000 a tonne.
"It's more expensive than petrol — if you could turn petrol into water you could make money."
According to the Australasian Bottled Water Institute, we spend about $385 million a year on bottled water.
Peter Gleick, president of the California-based Pacific Institute, which provides independent research and policy analysis on issues of development and the environment, recently calculated that demand for bottled water in the United States was burning up at least 17 million barrels of oil a year.
"And that's just the energy required to make the plastic resin and make it into bottles. It doesn't include the energy needed to get the bottled water to your local store," Dr Gleick says.
He estimates that the total amount of energy required for every bottle of water is equivalent, on average, to filling a quarter of a plastic bottle with crude oil.
"There are some situations where it might be OK to buy a bottle of water, but I don't think consumers are fully aware of the economic and environmental impact of what it takes to produce a bottle of water," he says.
"Especially when pure, clean drinking water is available, literally, on tap."
With no chlorine added to kill bacteria and no fluoride to strengthen teeth, bottled water can't even be considered better for you.
Federal Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull is urging consumers to think more carefully about their purchases.
"We must be thoughtful all of the time," Mr Turnbull says. "And we must encourage people to think about the way they use all our resources."
Mr Turnbull says the waste of resources used to get bottled water to the shop also highlights the need for a carbon price.

Monday, December 6, 2010

"Dangerous enough - EU acts on problem chemicals in plastic bottles"

 EU bans bisphenol A chemical from babies' bottles

From an article at BBC News

File photo of nine-month-old boy drinking from a bottle

Related stories

The European Commission has announced a ban on the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in plastic baby bottles from next year.
The commission cited fears that the compound could affect development and immune response in young children.
There has been concern over the use of BPA for some time, with six US manufacturers removing it in 2009 from bottles they sold in the US, although not other markets.
But a UK expert said he thought the move was "an over-reaction".
BPA is widely used in making hard, clear plastic and is commonly found in food and drink containers.
A European Commission spokesman said the proposal had been approved after being presented to a committee of national government experts on Thursday - months earlier than scheduled - and approved.
The European parliament had called for the ban in June.
Areas of uncertainty
John Dalli, Commissioner in charge of Health and Consumer Policy, said the ban was good news for European parents.

Start Quote

I would be happy for a baby of mine to be fed from a polycarbonate bottle containing bisphenol A”
Professor Richard Sharpe,University of Edinburgh
"There were areas of uncertainty, deriving from new studies, which showed that BPA might have an effect on development, immune response and tumour promotion," Mr Dalli said in a statement.
EU states will outlaw the manufacture of polycarbonate feeding bottles containing the compound from March 2011, and ban their import and sale from June 2011, the Commission said.
But Professor Richard Sharpe, of the Medical Research Council's Human Reproductive Sciences Unit at the University of Edinburgh, said the commission's decision must have been made on political, rather than scientific, grounds.
"I do not know of any convincing evidence that bisphenol A exposure, in the amounts used in polycarbonate bottles, can cause any harm to babies as not only are the amounts so minuscule but they are rapidly broken down in the gut and liver.
"Babies have the necessary enzymes and are able to metabolise bisphenol A just as effectively as adults."
He added: "Personally I think this is an overreaction, but if satisfactory replacements chemicals are available then this can be done to placate those calling for action, but scientifically it's a retrograde step.
"I would be happy for a baby of mine to be fed from a polycarbonate bottle containing bisphenol A."
And Professor Warren Foster of the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at Canada's McMaster University, said the EU had acted with "extreme caution".
The National Childbirth Trust is a British charity which has campaigned for the ban.
Its chief executive Belinda Phipps told the BBC: "When you put liquids into a bottle - particularly hot liquids or liquids containing fatty liquids - it leaches out of the plastic. And particularly as the bottle gets older and it gets more scratched, more and more leaches out and into the liquid."
Ms Phipps said that when a baby drinks from a bottle which contains BPA, the baby absorbs the leached chemical into its fat.
"It's a chemical that mimics oestrogens, but not in a good way," she said. "It interferes with oestrogens getting into the receptors, and it can have some very unpleasant effects - and animal studies have shown significant effects."
Canada was the first country to declare bisphenol A toxic in October, after it was concluded that the chemical might have harmful effects on humans, as well as the environment and "its biological diversity".
The Canadian decision was strongly opposed by the chemical industry.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

why water and plastic bottles just don't go together

from a blog Neptune 911!
November 16, 2010 by Charmaine Coimbra
Editor’s Note: This is a reprint of an editorial published 11/13/10 in The Santa Cruz Sentinel
Sue Arnold

Three years ago, the California Gray Whale Coalition was created with one specific goal: to relist gray whales under the Endangered Species Act.
In 1994, gray whales were delisted. Although the population at that time appeared healthy and was increasing, five years later a major crash saw over a third of the whales die of starvation. The reasons for the huge collapse were widely debated but a research report co-authored by Burney Le Boeuf, then-interim vice chancellor of UC Santa Cruz, supported the contention that lack of adequate prey caused by a regime shift was the most likely cause.
As specialist feeders, the whales are dependent primarily on benthic amphipods in the Bering and Chukchi seas. These tiny crustacea provide sufficient energy for reproduction and one of the longest migrations by any baleen whale — from the sub-Arctic to the Baja lagoons.
More recently, climate change has had a major impact on the primary feeding grounds. Warming seawater temperatures create conditions that do not favor amphipod reproduction, causing grief to the whales. This season, whale watching organizations and the National Marine Fisheries Service NMFS reported the fourth consecutive year of very low cow/calf counts, many emaciated whales and a large number of whales dying of starvation, their pitifully thin bodies washing ashore along the West Coast.
As a result of lobbying efforts by the coalition, members of the California Assembly and Senate passed a joint resolution that called on Congress to ensure funding for NMFS to undertake badly needed research on gray whales, and, if warranted, to relist the species under the Endangered Species Act. Many West Coast city councils passed similar resolutions.
 Representatives of the coalition have lobbied in Washington, D.C., and recently submitted a comprehensive scientific petition to NMFS requesting the whales be upgraded to depleted status under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. NMFS has 60 days to respond to this petition.

The agency can either agree to conduct a status review or upgrade the whales, currently listed as a stock of least concern, to depleted status, ensuring greater attention to the species — including habitat protection. If NMFS denies the petition, the coalition can legally challenge the decision and will certainly take that action if necessary.
In the early 2000s, the founding group of the coalition organized a scientific workshop using the gray whale as an indicator species of the Bering Sea. The workshop brought together specialist scientists from Mexico, Canada, Australia and the US. Professor Le Boeuf was instrumental in pulling together many of the experts. After two days of discussion, it was clear gray whales were facing major threats from many sources.
Another scientific workshop is urgently needed as the threat of ocean acidification, warming seawater temperatures and melting sea ice impact their feeding grounds. Oil and gas leases also cover these primary habitats, and transient orcas are taking large numbers of calves and juveniles as they migrate back to the sub-Arctic waters.
These whales are our ocean neighbors. The loss of gray whale tourism would have a major impact on many coastal communities that rely on the millions of dollars generated by whale watching and the flow-on effect.
The California Gray Whale Coalition believes raising awareness and public concern over the plight of the whales is an essential step in their protection.
Sue Arnold is CEO of the California Gray Whale Coalition.