Carrying a water bottle these days is like carrying a cell phone, house keys and a wallet: You don't leave home without it. But few of us stop to think about the long-range impact of all those bottles we empty over the course of a year.
Environmental activists are encouraging people to find alternatives to bottled water — and water bottles. Cities like San Francisco have banned city agencies from buying bottled water, even the big jugs for water coolers. They'd rather have folks drink tap water.
Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson calls bottled water "the greatest marketing scam of all time." He wants his city's employees to refrain from buying bottled water and fill up reusable bottles with tap water instead.
The statistics leading up to the tap water movement are staggering: 37 billion bottles' worth in 2005. That number comes from Food and Water Watch, a Washington-based group that is behind a "Take Back the Tap" campaign.
According to Jennifer Mueller, a spokeswoman for the group, an estimated 47 million gallons of oil are used to produce the bottles that Americans drink each year.
Another downside is that bottled water generally does not have fluoridation, which is essential for young children.
Oh, and then there is the expense; even the lowliest brand of water usually goes for at least $1 for the half-liter bottle.
So, if the guilt is kicking in right about now and you'd like to make a positive change — but not be far from some H20 — what are your options?
Sara Gragnolati, editorial director of Kiwi Magazine (www.kiwimagonline.com), showed Early Show viewers some alternatives to plastic bottles:
Blue planet: www.blueplanetwater.com/q&a.html
Biota (33.8 fl oz): (www.biotaspringwater.com)
Born free: www.newbornfree.com
Klean Kanteen: www.kleankanteen.com/
VOSS: (three glass bottles) www.vosswater.com/
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