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Environmental connections to public health >>

You just lost an excuse to buy bottled water

Thursday, January 27, 2011

By Lisa Frack, EWG Social Media Manager

Picture this: You're at the airport. You remembered your refillable water bottle and got it through security by draining its contents in the security line (can't take 'em through full). But when you go to refill the thing once you've reached the gate, either:

  • the water fountain runs so low you can't possibly fill your bottle. Shoot, you can barely take a sip! or,
  • there is no water to be had because you're at one of those spread-out airports with a billion different security entrances, and there's no water fountain anywhere near your gate.

There are, however, stores selling bottled water in just about every direction.

So what do you do?

Go thirsty? Buy the dreaded bottled water for 1,900 times the cost of tap in a single-use plastic bottle? No, you don't. Why? Because now there's another option in town - a water-refilling station, designed just for that reusable water bottle you remembered to bring. It goes by the name Global Tap, and it looks like this:


Now don't get too excited yet, because so far it's only in one airport in one U.S. city in the U.S. Not surprisingly, that city is San Francisco, a real city of firsts.

A good alternative to bottled water This on-the-go drinking water innovation is a multi-faceted victory for residents and visitors. Offering local tap water is an economically and environmentally friendly alternative to weakly regulated bottled water, which comes at an inflated cost to both consumers and the environment.

Because it's under-regulated, it's hard to know what you're drinking when you buy bottled water. They just don't tell you - and no wonder, since almost half of all bottled water comes from municipal sources, and when we tested its contents several years ago, it wasn't exactly pure. EWG recently examined 173 bottled water labels on the market to see if they provided basic information about their product, such as where the water came from and how it was treated. Only three brands were able to provide complete answers to these questions - questions that municipal water sources - like the one supplying San Francisco's Global Tap dispensers - are required to answer by law.

Almost one-fifth of bottled waters do not list the location of their water source. (The industry acknowledges that 47 percent of bottled water is municipally sourced.) And then it's sold at up to 1,900 times the price of tap water. Two words: no thanks. Drink that filtered tap water - at home AND on the go Filtered tap water continues to be the best choice for consumers in terms of quality, transparency and cost. San Francisco's economical solutions to environmental and health issues should inspire communities across the country looking to ensure access to clean water.

So when you leave home, don't fall off the green wagon! Grab that refillable water bottle (not the BPA-containing plastic one) and refill - wherever you are. If you're lucky enough to be in San Francisco - Global Tap just made it a little easier.

Learn more and weigh in Find out more about this new program and where these water-refilling stations are located around town -- they're not just at the airport. And take a few minutes to tell the SF Public Utilities Commission, a key backer of this program -- what you think of the new water-refilling stations and where you'd like to see more of them. Just click here to start their survey.

[Photo courtesy of Global Tap]

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