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🗣️ "Bottled Water"

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Photo by bin foch / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: David Farrier
Guest: Peter Gleick | Hydrologist
Category: 🗣️ Opinion | Bottled Water

Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[0:34] DF: “Since Perrier first arrived in the 1970s, bottled water continues to soar to new heights and Americans guzzle back about 45 gallons of the stuff every year [on average per person]. It's the most popular American beverage. And its big business. Every year, the two biggest brands generate more than a billion dollars each.”

[14:47] PG: “It's the highly publicized failures of our municipal tap water systems that helps erode trust in our tap water. And those failures are a result of a lot of different things. We have under-invested in infrastructure all across the board: water, electricity, transportation, all sorts of things. But with Flint, Michigan, the water that the utility was putting into the pipes at the top of the system after they treated it was very high quality water. The problem was with old legacy pipes between the street and the home basically, where some old infrastructure in homes still had old lead pipes. And the water that was coming from the clean municipal system into the taps got contaminated by that lead. […] Building trust in your tap water system is much harder than losing trust in your tap water system.

[19:23] PG: “The early advertising of the bottled water companies directly attacked tap water. […] The big companies have backed off a little bit from that. They'd been warned they shouldn't attack tap water directly. And now they use the more traditional methods of: this bottled water is going to make you healthier, or sexier, or more popular.”

[27:25] PG: “When I grew up in New York City, we'd go to Central Park and there are 100 water fountains in Central Park. Everybody drank water from the water fountains. Today those water fountains, they're not that well maintained, they are hard to find. So convenience was an argument. Health, safety was an argument. Those were all weaponry of private bottled water companies.”

[27:52] PG: “Bottled water is regulated not by the EPA, a public agency required to protect tap water, but by the FDA, which regulates food products, the Food and Drug Administration, because bottled water is considered a food product, it's packaged. The FDA does not do monitoring of all the bottled water companies. The bottled water companies do their own testing. And far less frequently than urban water agencies test.

[30:51] PG: “The plastic story is an important part of the bottled water story. One of the things that really, really helped push bottled water was when it didn't have to be packaged in glass. […] We don't insist that bottled water companies or beverage companies in general use recycled plastic in their bottles. So they all make plastic bottles out of what we call virgin plastic, which comes from petroleum. If we required that plastic bottles include 25%, or 50%, or 100% recycled plastic, then there would be a market and there would be a system setup and we would want to collect it. And the bottled water companies would help collect it. That would be an important solution, but we've never done that.”

[33:24] “One of the worst aspects of what I described as the global water crisis is that it's the 21st century and we have failed to provide safe drinking water to everyone on the planet. There are 800 million people that don't have the tap water that we have in the richer countries of the world. For them, their alternative is drinking contaminated water and getting sick, which they do by the millions, or spending money that they don't have for bottled water.”

[34:01] DF: “A study from four years ago found private water companies get 64% of the water they sell to you from tap water that's likely had a lot of the good stuff minerals like calcium and magnesium removed.

[36:11] PG: “The very first thing we have to be doing is investing in our tap water system. 100 years ago we built the first really great municipal water systems, […] but we haven't invested in them. […] We need to publicly expand trust and rebuild trust in that system. At the same time, we need to better regulate the bottled water industry. We need to expand testing of bottled water. We need to require recycling of 100% of plastic bottles. And that'll raise the cost of bottled water which deserves to be raised. It's already 1,000 times more expensive than tap water, which people don't understand. But we need to make bottled water a specialty item not a day to day item. A luxury, not a common date good.”

Rating: 💧💧💧💧

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 57 min | 🗓️ 07/12/2022
✅ Time saved: 55 min