Who Needs Bottled Water?


I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I dread it when I go out to eat, and the server asks: “Bottled or tap?” I always go for tap, but then feel like a second-class citizen, like riff-raff, like maybe I belong at the burger joint down the street instead. But when classy restaurants such as Chez Panisse, Incanto, Poggio, Nopa and Bushi-Tei are taking bottled water off of their menus, I can say “tap!” with gusto. Not only am I helping to save the environment by reducing waste and staying local, but I’m also supporting our municipalities against the bottled-water corporations who are trying to privatize public supplies.

Guilty! Here's the bottle collection at my desk.

It turns out that the seemingly harmless act of drinking bottled water (which is not necessarily healthier than tap) has serious unintended consequences. According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation, Americans consumed more than eight billion gallons of water (26 million gallons per person), which adds up to $11 billion and 22 billion discarded plastic bottles that are choking the landfills. Further, these 70-plus million bottles require 1.5 million barrels of oil per year for their manufacture. So you can feel virtuous while driving your Prius, unless you’re chugging an Aquafina.

As adults, we’re supposed to average 64 ounces of water a day—I average closer to 100 with all of my training (and sweating). Most of the time I drink tap water that’s been filtered, but I’ve been known to buy bottled—especially if it’s sparkling or if I’ve forgotten my Nalgene. Sometimes I don’t love the taste of tap, but an easy solution is to use a filter or support Chez Panisse, Incanto, Nopa, Bushi-tei and all the other restaurants in the city that filter good ol’ SF water.

Here’s a list of insightful references:
7x7 “Water Works: What flows from our taps is worth more than you think”
Refill Not Landfill: A campaign to reduce disposable water bottle waste
SF Gate “Local tap water bubbles up in restaurants”
The Green Guide “Tapped Out: The True Cost of Bottled Water”
New York Times “A Battle Between the Bottle and the Faucet”

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