Monday, July 25, 2011

Go Green: Say NO to Bottled Water

Go Green: Say NO to Bottled Water

I've never really been into bottled water. I can't see paying for something that I can get for practically nothing from my sink. A few months ago I watched a documentary called Tapped and it really opened my eyes to the dirty business that is bottled water. After all the research I've done, it's become so important to me, so here I am trying to spread the word.

Bottled water usually is tap water. Companies such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi often buy municipal water. They pay next to nothing, and then go into towns and cities and drain the lakes. If there is a drought and a community is under water restriction, these companies will keep pumping. Often, by the time they are done, there is nothing left.

Water is bottled and sold back to the consumer for 1,900 times the cost of tap. It costs an average of $2.00 per liter of bottled water; it costs an average of $0.0005 per liter of tap water.

Many people argue that bottled water tastes better and is cleaner. This is not true. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) requires public water suppliers to test their water for contaminants several times a day. You can count on your water being tested an average of 4 times each day. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) requires that bottled water only be tested once a week or once each year, depending on the contaminant. A study of the 10 most popular brands of bottled water found an average of 8 contaminants including arsenic, nitrate, Tylenol, and industrial chemicals. As far as bottled water tasting better, I believe that this is usually psychological. I'm sorry if this offends anyone, but the truth is that bottled water and tap water are often one in the same and some bottled water may not ever receive treatment.

The process of making bottles for water is unhealthy. Every year, 1.5 million barrels of oil are used to makes bottles. The process releases toxic compounds such as nickel, ethylbenzene, and ethyleneoxide into the air. The communities where bottled water plants are located have staggering rates of cancer. The residents can't even sell their homes because no one else wants to live near these plants.

Bottled water isn't good for the people who drink it either. The plastic used for bottles contains BPA and phthalates. BPA is linked to reproductive and neurological damage and cancer. Phthalates mimic hormones in your body. Exposure to phthalates may cause brain damage, hyperactivity, and cancer, including prostate cancer.

One more negative effect of bottled water is that the bottles are thrown away where they end up in landfills or the ocean. Only about 20% of water bottles are recycled. Between California and Hawaii, there is a mass of trash floating in the ocean known as the Great Garbage Patch. It contains about 3.5 million tons of trash and is roughly the size of Texas. Most of this garbage is plastic.

The good news is that 90% of tap water in the United States is safe to drink. Your municipality is legally required to share the results of tests on public water, so feel free to ask for it. If you feel that your tap water is unclean, buy a filter. Ultimately it would be ideal to buy a reverse osmosis system, which removes the fluoride from your water. In the long run, it is a better investment than continuing to buy bottled water. There are too many negative effects of bottled water, so please, just say NO.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Bottled Water Labels Leave Something To Be Desired

Bottled Water Labels Leave Something To Be Desired

Saturday, May 14, 2011 - 21:40 in Health & Medicine
Mad magazine in the 1970's envisioned a day in the future when bottled milk, air and water would be delivered from door to door. Well, few of us still have a milkman. But is bottled water a rational purchase? In Canada the government lets bottlers conduct their own tests. Are they to be trusted? Maybe. I just find the typical label on water bottles a little less than professional. For one, why do they ignore ionic charges? There's no SO4 or Na in water. But there is SO4 2-(sulfate or sulphate for my fellow Commonwealth citizens) and Na+(sodium ion). And can they make up their mind with regard to concentration? Look at the nutrition facts which reportread more

Read the whole article on Scientific Blogging

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Some bottled-up truths about purified water

from an article at

No photo

Some bottled-up truths about purified water
CONSUMERLINE By Ching M. Alano (The Philippine Star) Updated May 17, 2011 12:00 AM 

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The long hot summer is here! And suddenly, all I can think of is a most refreshing drink of water to quench my thirst, wash away the day’s blahs, and soothe my weary spirit.
So, I grab a bottle of water (never cold, just room temperature water  and not because of the mistaken notion that drinking cold water makes you fat, but that’s another story), open my e-mail and read this riveting item from Yahoo Green: “The Environmental Working Group (EWG is an American environmental organization) analyzed the company websites and product labels of over 170 varieties of bottled water in the US to see if the companies disclosed information on where their water came from, how the water was treated, and whether the results of tests to ensure purity were revealed.”
Thirsty for more information, the researchers also called the bottled water companies to ask if they would be willing to share information with consumers.
And the findings are: “More than half of the bottled water products failed the transparency test. Almost 20 percent didn’t say where their water comes from, and an additional 32 percent did not disclose any information on treatment or purity of water.”
Yahoo Green pours out more absorbing facts: Only three brands earned the highest possible marks  Gerber Pure Purified Water, Nestle Pure Life Purified Water, and Penta Ultra-Purified Water.
A great majority of the bottled water companies refuse to divulge what’s really in their bottles. There are just a lot of bottled-up truths that consumers ought to know.
Taking consumers’ best interests to heart, EWG went out to seek answers to these questions: Where does the water come from? Is it purified; if so, how? Is the water tested, and what, if any, contaminants have been found?
Sadly, according to the EWG, of the top 10 best-selling brands, nine failed to answer all three foregoing questions. Of the 173 bottled water products included in the survey, only Nestlé Pure Life Purified Water discloses the needed information squarely on its label, and gives information for requesting a water quality test report.
All told, the EWG gave only three bottled water products a good rating for transparency: Nestlé Pure Life Purified Water, Gerber Pure Purified Water, Penta Ultra-Purified Water.
Probably most Pinoy households today don’t drink water from the tap and opt instead for bottled water. Indeed, bottled water is a thriving industry and there are just too many brands on the market today. Bottled water is peddled everywhere  in bus and train stations; in the streets, vendors shove it in your face while you’re caught in traffic. Of course, you wonder where on earth did they get their bottled water?
But in the US, it was found that about “40 percent of bottled water is regular tap water, which may or may not have received any additional treatment.” And the truth is, “most municipal tap water must adhere to stricter purity standards than the bottled water industry. The EPA requires large public water suppliers to test for contaminants as often as several times a day, but the FDA requires private bottlers to test for contaminants only once a week, once a year, or once every four years, depending on the contaminant.”

Aside from the all-important question of purity or water quality, plastic bottles are one of the most environmentally-unfriendly industries. They pollute the environment and contain a cocktail of harmful chemicals like phthalates which have been linked to reproductive problems and BPA which disrupts the endocrine system (the glands that produce and store hormones).

So, think before you drink!
Another test done by EWG in 2009 found 38 low-level contaminants in bottled water.

Monday, July 11, 2011

DoNation: 'If 50 people give up bottled water, I will run a marathon'

Forget hounding your friends for cash – a new sponsorship site asks people for good deeds, not their money. By Alice-Azania Jarvis

from an article published in The Independent
To Hermione Taylor, it was a logical solution to a short-term problem. Due to embark on a sponsored cycle ride from London to Morocco, she found herself unwilling to nag friends for money. "It was the start of the credit crunch and a lot of people were students," she explains. "It felt like too much to ask." So she asked for something else: a promise. A promise to do a bit of good for the planet."We knew we wanted to do something for the environment – and, ultimately, that does not need money, it needs action."
The result was a list of 216 "pledges" from friends and family. They ranged from promising to eat less meat to washing clothes on a cool heat and, says Taylor, amounted to 16 tonnes of saved carbon (or, as she puts it "84 return flights to Morocco"). In the end, Taylor's grand cycle – which saw her sleep on beaches, stay with good samaritans and camp on hotel roofs – took 40 days. Its legacy has lasted much longer. Not only did she find that three-quarters of her sponsors continued their green actions after the allotted two months – but Taylor realised she had hit upon something potentially far bigger that a cycle race.
Having read for a masters in environmental technology at Imperial College London, she was only too familiar with the difficulty of encouraging green behaviour: "I'd focused on behavioural change and had looked at all sorts of so-called 'pledge schemes'. Talking to everyone when I got back, I realised that this ticked all the boxes for a good one."
Her idea was to take her pledge system and marry it with the online giving culture, pioneered by websites such as JustGiving, Virgin Money Giving and The Big Give. It's a field which, over the past decade, has expanded enormously – JustGiving, which handles some 85 per cent of all online donations – collected a staggering £188 million for charity in 2010 alone. The company has come in for criticism for its private, for-profit business model – unlike Virgin Money Giving, they deduct 5 per cent of every donation made and charities must pay £15 a month for membership – but Taylor points out the good they've done. "They've made giving so much easier – though I knew I'd have to be bit more innovative. For me, it was all about action, not donation." And so began a long year of planning, networking, researching and fund-raising, as Taylor attempted to turn her idea into a viable social enterprise. She was awarded two grants which paid for her cost of living. The rest she did alone – well, apart from the support of the social enterprise community and the help, since January, of an intern. Taylor had to turn her idea into a web-based reality, which meant acquiring knowledge of marketing, communications and design.
It's paid off. Earlier this month, went live. Among those who've already signed up are Xavier Roeseler, who's hiking Spain's Camino Santiago, and Bojana Bajzalj and Will Usher, who plan to cycle from London to Ljubljana in 21 days. On signing up to the site, sponsors are given a choice of 20 actions that they can pledge to perform for a limited amount of time. Grouped into five categories – food, travel, energy, home and shopping – they range from giving up bottled water to installing solar panels. Make your selection, and you're met with a brief questionnaire to record your current habits and assess the change you will make. For every sponsor, an approximate carbon saving is worked out, allowing users to calculate their impact. "That's a big draw for people," explains Taylor of this. "The fact that there's a measurable benefit really makes a difference."
There is, of course, one potential flaw. Unlike websites where you pledge money, the DoNation can't hold everyone to account. It's perfectly possible – at least in theory – to pledge a bit of good behaviour and then default on it. This is something Taylor has thought long and hard about – and she believes she has a solution: "What we've done, essentially, is use a form of peer pressure. All the pledges are listed in public and, given that it's a friend or acquaintance that you are sponsoring, you're likely to be surrounded by people to police you."
It's with this in mind that I decide to give the system a go. Taylor counsels against opting for anything too ambitious – I don't have a bike, so cycling's out of the question. Equally, though, there's little point pledging something you already do. So no promise to take the stairs over the lift, or to wash on a low heat. Instead I decide to green my frequent trips to the kettle by promising to boil only the amount of water I'm going to use. And you know what? I've stuck to it (so far). It means waiting a fraction of the time that it would to boil a full kettle, too. Bonus! "A lot of people find that there are other positive repercussions," agrees Taylor. "It's not just about carbon."
Over the next year, she wants to expand the DoNation's capabilities, forming partnerships with companies, and expanding into a host of pledge-making activities. So far, most people who have signed up for the site have been doing some kind of sponsored race. Hopefully, the events will get more varied as time goes on – "We'd love to do a wedding list!" she says. Central to everything is a single simple message: behaving responsibly can be fun: "It can be a chore trying to be green. But we're making it social."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Don't bottle it Up

from an article at

Don’t Bottle It Up

Ever wondered what the appeal is with bottled water?  Why do we spend over 100 billion dollars on bottled water each year?
It undergoes less quality control and scrutiny than tap water, so it can’t be the quality.  It costs approx 1000 times more per litre than high quality tap water, so it’s not the price.
According to industry marketing experts we are buying bottled water simply for convenience,but at what cost?
In the United States alone, bottled water is responsible for the consumption of 17 million barrels of oil per year.  This same amount of oil is enough to fuel more than 1 million gas guzzling cars and light trucks for a year.  To compound this, the environmental impact caused by the production, distribution, storage, and disposal of bottled water is alarming.  Australia’s bottled water consumption creates more than 60,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, as much as the annual emissions from 13,000 cars.
Don’t turn away now, it gets worse.  Australians only recycle 36% of their PET bottles. This is a shameful figure and means that around 373 million plastic water bottles will end up as waste each year. I don’t even want to get into the discussion about why we import bottled water from around the globe (Fiji, France, Britain) while exporting our own brands of water in return.
So next time you’re listening to someone rant about the price of petrol, maybe point out that their strange bottled water fetish is driving up the price of fuel, so do they really have the right to complain about it?   Or if you are a know-it-all who is always giving others grief about their impact on the environment (like me!), maybe trade in your bottled water for a more permanent option before someone catches onto your hypocritical ways.

Source credit :: The Pacific Institute
Image credit

Monday, July 4, 2011

Bottled water sometimes has contamination on tap

An article from Crikey

Bottled water sometimes has contamination on tap
Bottled water is constantly promoted as pure and natural, but research by the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism shows it undergoes an industrial bottling process that actually increases risks of contamination compared to tap water.
Yet bottled water is not as strictly monitored as tap water, says consumer advocacy group Choice.
Last December a batch of Cool Ridge bottles was contaminated with a chlorine cleaning solution. The incident served as a rude wake-up call to the reality of what goes on behind the firmly closed doors of Australia’s $500 million bottled-water industry.
After Cool Ridge consumers complained of a strong chlorine smell coming from their bottled water, the brand’s manufacturer, Schweppes, recalled all bottles with a use by date of  6.11.11 from supermarkets in Queensland and NSW. The contamination went largely unnoticed and Schweppes did not respond to the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism’s ( ACIJ) requests for more information.
Schweppes corporate affairs manager, Robyn Newman, said in an email she was “in full-day meetings for the rest of the week, then on leave for some time”. A call to the consumer info line was never returned.
However, Lydia Buchtmann, of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), said the Cool Ridge recall was not a safety risk and Schweppes “agreed to recall voluntarily”.
Buchtmann said chlorine is used to clean out equipment at the bottling plant and although it was a regular procedure to run fresh water through the processing equipment, “in this case, that may not have been done”.
Choice spokesperson Ingrid Just said consumers are just “being sold a lot of hype” and bottle manufacturers are “climbing over each other to have bottles labelled with ‘pure’ or pictures of waterfalls”.
Professor of Microbiology at the California Lutheran University Fred Rosenberg agreed. He said there is no such thing as pure water and disinfection is not synonymous with sterilisation.
Micro-organisms such as bacteria and fungi are always present in water — be it tap water or bottled water, Rosenberg said, but past disease outbreaks were mostly due to contaminations that occurred during the bottling process, not at the water source.
Rosenberg said while running tap water sourced from clean pipes is fine, the risk of contamination arises once the water starts coming into contact with foreign objects, for example bottling equipment and those working the machines. In addition to this, water sitting stagnant on grocery shelves with little oxygen provides an ideal environment for organisms to multiply, which, according to Rosenberg, can be particularly problematic for people whose immune system is compromised.
The latest United States recall happened last week, when Mountain Pure Water voluntarily recalled a batch of bottled water after mould was discovered in a shipment of its purified water sent to Clinton, Arkansas, which is recovering from floods. Health officials said it was unlikely that a healthy person would get sick from drinking the water, but people with a weakened immune system may be at risk. The water was selling in Walmart under a green label “Great value”.
While Sydney Water tests its drinking water for 70 different characteristics and publishes the results daily on its website, the NSW Food Authority told the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism it does not even monitor bottled water manufacturers on a weekly basis.
The product is considered to be a low food safety risk. The authority would investigate any complaints made to it about bottled water, as per normal procedure with other food products,” said the NSW Food Authority spokesperson in an email.
The food authority states: “Bottled water manufacturers are required to comply with the Food Standards Code and are also responsible for meeting their own code requirements.”
Coca-Cola Amatil (CCA) director of media and public affairs Sally Loane, said in an email that water is tested hourly for contaminants during the bottling process, but results are not made available to the public.
In 2004 Coca-Cola was forced to pull its brand of Dasani bottled water of the shelves of Britain in the midst of a humiliating public scandal. Not only had it been found that Coca-Cola was selling water from the Thames, procured from the mains supply to its factory, but the bottled water also contained illegal amounts of bromine, a potential carcinogen created during the manufacture process.
Loane told the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism that its Mount Franklin brand of water is micro-filtered to remove any micro-organisms or particles and once the water has passed through the final filter, it is bottled in an environment that she said, had sterile air to prevent any airborne contamination.
Despite this assurance, Loane was unable to offer any detail about the treatment and manufacture process for Mount Franklin bottled water in Australia because the information was classified commercial-in-confidence.
In a similar story in the United States, a new study called the 2011 Bottled Water Scorecard found more than half of the 173-bottled water brands surveyed flunked a transparency test.
According to the report, recently released by the Environmental Working Group, 32% of bottled water brands will not disclose their internal treatment and purity testing methods, 18% fail to reveal their water’s geographic source and 13% publish water quality reports that lack any actual testing results.
The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit organisation who lobby for public health and the environment, said the bottled water industry spends millions on advertising each year, while “failing to disclose contaminants and other crucial facts about their products”.
Disinfectant by-products (DBPs), associated with cancer, were found in 10 brands of bottled water tested in the US in 2008 by the Environmental Working Group. The group also found 37 other contaminants in the water, including caffeine and pharmaceuticals, fertiliser residue and industrial chemicals.
In Australia, bottled water is considered packaged food and as such is regulated by the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. Members of the Australasian Bottled Water Institute (ABWI) must also comply with their own industry code.
According to the ABWI website, the model code is a quality assurance program that establishes a strict set of standards for the safe processing of bottled water. These include standards on plant construction and design, personal hygiene and cleaning of tankers used to transport the bulk water.
Although Loane said CCA have its own stringent internal quality standards and is subjected to annual technical audits by ABWI approved auditors, the AWBI admits the model code is a self-regulatory scheme of plant inspections whereby bottler members submit the full records of their bottled water test results to the auditors.
The NSW Food Authority provided the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism with anecdotal evidence of past cases of bottled water contamination and admitted to “a small number, perhaps three or four, of minor issues regarding bottle water in the past five years. The majority of these concerned issues like mould or yeast present in the water. There were no reports to the authority of illness as a result”.
Professor Rosenberg said tap water in the US is more closely scrutinised than bottled water and although the Food and Drug Administration do test bottled water, the testing is often internal and not subjected to objective scrutiny.
It’s suggested that if the company finds any problems that they report the problems, but of course, if you are in business to make money, then you will try to alleviate the problem before you tell anybody about it,” Rosenberg said.
Tap water in Australia is the responsibility of individual state health departments, who regulate it according to the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (ADWG), developed by the National Health and Medical Research Council.
We can’t be any more transparent really as to the quality of what it is that we are delivering,” said a Sydney Water spokesperson.
Water is filtered then disinfected using chlorine. Ammonia is also added in some systems in a disinfection process known as “chloramination”.
Drinking water is tested at every stage of the supply system. The Sydney Catchment Authority (SCA) tests water in the catchments. Sydney Water tests the water immediately after it is treated, in distribution pipes and at 650 customers’ taps, according to its spokesperson.
*This story is part of Pure Plastiky, a project of the Global Environmental Journalism Initiative and the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism