What do diamonds, Betty White and BPA-free water bottles have in common? They all last forever. As a human being and avid water drinker, I fill up my stainless steel bottle about four times a day, using nothing but tap water from whatever bathroom sink or water fountain is nearby. If I’m lucky, I even get to use one of the four interactive water bottle refill stations on campus.
Here is my confession: In this daily water reconnaissance, I do not feel the slightest bit inconvenienced. In fact, I pity those who do not have a smooth, stainless companion less than a foot away, as it requires more time and resources to buy water from a vending machine than to refill a bottle.
Unfortunately, refilling single-use bottles, the oft-used compromise of those who do not wish to kick their habit, is more harmful than helpful. According to Ashlyn Spilis-Hochschild, a graduate assistant who works in the Office of Sustainability, “People think that sometimes they’re doing the right thing by using [old water bottles], and really they’re not…they’re made to be single use, and once you start reusing it, it accelerates the breakdown process and you’re ingesting more chemicals.”
Many of the biggest companies, whose logos we have come to recognize and love, are less friend than frenemy. In a study conducted by the University of Iowa Hygienic Laboratory analyzing the chemical composition of 10 popular brands of bottled water, 38 contaminants were identified, with an average of eight per brand. These chemicals include arsenic, nitrate, ammonia, and pharmaceutical remnants. Still sound refreshing?
The prevalence of these chemicals is possible because private water companies can get away with very little regulation. In fact, there is only one person in the federal government responsible for regulating all bottled water, and because most bottled water is pumped and distributed locally and therefore never crosses state lines, most are never inspected.
Tap water, in contrast, is highly regulated as a public utility. People often complain that water from the tap “just doesn’t taste pure,” but, in reality, it’s purer than anything you buy. Luckily for College of Charleston students, Charleston has the fourth best quality tap water in the United States, and it is sold at a lower rate than $1.25 a liter. Talk about a bargain.
I am proud to say that it’s been three years since I stopped relying on plastic water bottles. I would admit that it was a hard transition, filled with many a morning of shakes and shivers as I resisted the urge to grab a conveniently pre-filled Dasani bottle from the fridge, but that would simply be lying. One day, I decided to stop using plastic water bottles. I did. Now it’s your turn – Befriend a bottle today.
*The views in this article represent the opinion of the author, and not those of CisternYard News.