I Never Drink Water, Fish F**K In It
July 4, 2008 7:13 PM   Subscribe

Bottled Water is Bullshit. We are now in the midst of bottled water back lash. Where will it end?
posted by Xurando (133 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh, and there's this too.
posted by Xurando at 7:14 PM on July 4, 2008


Somebody wrote a book about bottled water? Fail.
posted by Science! at 7:26 PM on July 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey Culligan man!
posted by sleepy pete at 7:43 PM on July 4, 2008


Of course bottled water is a scam. It is to the 00s what the electric can opener was to the 80s
posted by dydecker at 7:43 PM on July 4, 2008


Some students have jokingly started to sell bottled air for $1.

Those crazy kids!
posted by jimmythefish at 7:43 PM on July 4, 2008


They also claim hybrid cars are bullshit, apparently.
posted by delmoi at 7:44 PM on July 4, 2008


Somebody wrote a book about bottled water? Fail.

Bottlemania
posted by Xurando at 7:48 PM on July 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I carry all of my water around inside my body.
posted by oddman at 8:00 PM on July 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well, I liked having Coca-cola sponsor the Mars missions to find Dasani on Mars. What ever happened with that?

And comparing bottled water to the electric can opener?
The electric can opener is sliced bread compared to bottled water.
Bottled water is the new salad shooter.
posted by hexatron at 8:01 PM on July 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


When I was a kid, the joke was that "Everything I enjoy is either illegal, immoral, or fattening."

When I was in high school we added another: "or causes cancer in lab rats."

Nowadays, if you can find anything that's fun which doesn't get disqualified for one of those reasons, then it'll turn out that you can't do it because it causes global warming climate change.

I can't eve die now without feeling guilty about it. (Have you got any idea how much CO2 is released from a cremation? And how much energy it requires?)

If only there were some way for me to get myself retroactively aborted. Then I could feel virtuous.
posted by Class Goat at 8:08 PM on July 4, 2008 [20 favorites]


So I'm not supposed to be using an electric can opener or what?
posted by puke & cry at 8:08 PM on July 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


*puts down his salad shooter*

What?
posted by recoveringsophist at 8:19 PM on July 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


You ever notice what "Evian" spelled backwards says.... makes you think.
posted by Fizz at 8:20 PM on July 4, 2008 [11 favorites]


somewhere w c fields is laughing
posted by pyramid termite at 8:25 PM on July 4, 2008


The very best bottled water is pinched from conference rooms at work. One can also get a fine selection of bottled teas and juices that way.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:36 PM on July 4, 2008


You ever notice what "Evian" spelled backwards says.... makes you think.
posted by Fizz at 10:20 PM on July 4


You ever notice that recycling doesn't work so good with jokes? Especially Dennis Miller jokes.
posted by SinisterPurpose at 8:36 PM on July 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


During one of my treks through Afghanistan, we lost our corkscrew. Compelled to live on food and water for several days. W. C. Fields
posted by caddis at 8:37 PM on July 4, 2008 [6 favorites]


Bottled water is delicious water in convenient, portable form. I don't want to always want to carry water around with me, so sometimes I buy it in a bottle.
posted by !Jim at 8:37 PM on July 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


Bottled water is the new salad shooter.

Whenever I have diarrhea, I call it a "salad shooter." Think about that the next time you use your salad shooter. Diarrhea.
posted by NoMich at 8:37 PM on July 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


The thing that kills me more than the wasted plastic in bottled water is the fact that water has become big big profit for companies like Pepsi, Nestle and Coca Cola to the point that they have a vested interest in dominating the water market - which in my cynical conspiratorial mind means that the more polluted the world's drinking water gets the more money they stand to make. These exorbitant profit margins have attracted the interest of private equity funds who have begun buying up local water companies and jacking up the prices. It makes me sick to think of a day when blood brokers will have bought up all the fresh drinking water on earth then hold the rest of us hostage like they are doing right now with oil.

WATER IS A FUCKING HUMAN RIGHT!

KEEP IT OUT OF THE HANDS OF THE TRADERS!
posted by any major dude at 8:40 PM on July 4, 2008 [16 favorites]


These exorbitant profit margins have attracted the interest of private equity funds who have begun buying up local water companies and jacking up the prices. It makes me sick to think of a day when blood brokers will have bought up all the fresh drinking water on earth then hold the rest of us hostage like they are doing right now with oil.

Why don't you just buy into water and ride it to the top, chicken little?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 8:47 PM on July 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, the best water is tap water which has been refrigerated in an old wine bottle. It's true, try it.
posted by jeffburdges at 8:58 PM on July 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


I won't become a bottled water drinker until I can buy it at Costco in stackable, parallelepipedal plastic bottles.
posted by Tube at 9:00 PM on July 4, 2008


How old does the wine bottle need to be?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:00 PM on July 4, 2008


Previous posts regarding this FPP's Penn & Teller segment: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Previous FPP's:
July 3, 2007: The many costs of bottled water.

March 9, 2007: Iced Out Water.

posted by ericb at 9:07 PM on July 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Some day I'm going to make a FPP all about the virtues of snark and offhand pithy sarcasm, and watch with glee as MeFi contrarians' heads asplode in the comment thread, or respond, in true contrarian fashion, with a slow but steady stream of carefully reasoned sincerity - or, having nothing constructive to say, say nothing. I know, I've loosed my share of snarktillery as well, but it's just seemed particularly excessive this last week.

Anyway, point is, I'm not so sure that raising concerns about water profiteering are so baseless as to warrant Chicken Little references.
Water use has been growing at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century, and, although there is no global water scarcity as such, an increasing number of regions are chronically short of water. By 2025, 1 800 million people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be under stress conditions. The situation will be exacerbated as rapidly growing urban areas place heavy pressure on neighbouring water resources. Freshwater bodies have a limited capacity to process the pollutant charges of the effluents...
Yes, I'm being earnest.
posted by regicide is good for you at 9:09 PM on July 4, 2008 [7 favorites]


You ever notice that recycling doesn't work so good with jokes? Especially Dennis Miller jokes.
posted by SinisterPurpose at 11:36 PM on July 4 [+] [!]

Dennis Miller's jokes aren't even funny the first time around.
posted by etaoin at 9:11 PM on July 4, 2008


Ah, yes; thank the gods for my tap water filter and my Nalgene bottle.

(According to this book, most US municipal tap water is now cleaner than bottled water.)

I can't eve die now without feeling guilty about it. (Have you got any idea how much CO2 is released from a cremation? And how much energy it requires?)

There are some places that are (or, are at least looking into--old NPR story) using the leftover heat from crematoriums to warm nearby structures. Or if you don't like that, you could do that thing where they bury your body, and then plant a tree over it.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 9:12 PM on July 4, 2008


NPR: Rethinking Bottled Water -- Robert Siegel interviews Charles Fishman, the Fast Company reporter who penned the article linked in the FPP.*

The Making of a Water Snob*

Is America's $8 Billion Bottled Water Industry a Fraud?*
posted by ericb at 9:12 PM on July 4, 2008


NPR: Rethinking Bottled Water -- Robert Siegel interviews Charles Fishman, the Fast Company reporter who penned the article linked in the [previous] FPP.*

Message in a Bottle [July 2007] -- "Americans spent more money last year on bottled water than on ipods or movie tickets: $15 Billion. A journey into the economics--and psychology--of an unlikely business boom. And what it says about our culture of indulgence."
posted by ericb at 9:18 PM on July 4, 2008


Vending machines shilling water for $2 for essentially a glass of water -- and restaurants getting to charge for something they'd give for free. And you have no idea what's in it, but it comes in a polluting bottle; so hey, why not...
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 9:18 PM on July 4, 2008


If only there were some way for me to get myself retroactively aborted. Then I could feel virtuous.

Murderer.
posted by rokusan at 9:20 PM on July 4, 2008 [4 favorites]




thank the gods for my tap water filter and my Nalgene bottle.

Yup. The Bisphenol A (an endocrine disruptor) leaching from your Nalgene bottle probably gives the water extra flavor.
posted by Justinian at 9:25 PM on July 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Muffins. Now that was a short-lived fad.

And now, it's...cupcakes!

Now, as far as water is concerned, it has been rather comical that everyone on their way to their way to a meeting (corporate bingo anyone?) has to bring her bottle of water with her. Or him. One must stay hydrated!

And the sudden backlash, after more than a decade and a half, is itself rather baffling in terms of its intensity and variety.

Boy, I wish I had a crystal ball. I coulda been a contender, I coulda been a Doughnut Billionaire, I coulda been a Tanning Magnate...umm, scratch that. Any guesses on what's next? I'm thinking, with the population explosion here in the Southwest, some kind of magical Ice Concoction. Not ice cream, gelato, popsicles...but something spiritual and special and different in that kind of quasi-corporate supposedly grass-roots kind of vein.

Now, I'm not an investor, but you can take my idea for free...or maybe .01% of the gross. It's up to you, bro.
posted by kozad at 9:26 PM on July 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Xurando: "Where will it end?"

I predict that this battle will go all the way... all the way to the source.

Oh sorry, that should have been "all the way to the source."
posted by Rhaomi at 9:30 PM on July 4, 2008


Anyway, point is, I'm not so sure that raising concerns about water profiteering are so baseless as to warrant Chicken Little references.

"Water profiteering" just seems like a meaningless term to me. I have trouble getting excited about people paying other people to supply a scarce resource.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 9:45 PM on July 4, 2008


I am such a sucker for bottled water, I can't even fucking look myself in the mirror. I buy 36 packs at Costco, tall bottles at gas stations, and gallon jugs at work. I'm fucking addicted to it like it's crack cocaine. About a week ago I told myself I would quit buying it and start drinking tap water, and by that afternoon I had convinced myself that buying it in a flavor format was an acceptable loophole. I've been hanging out at Mom's all day and every drop of water I drank was from a plastic bottle. I will give up beer, weed, and coffee before I can stop drinking bottled water. And I hate myself for it.
posted by vito90 at 9:53 PM on July 4, 2008


vito90, is that a joke? I'm honestly not sure.

We have bottled water here, but there's usually some pretense that it's for sporting or outdoor use. I was struck when last in the US at how common it was, and how the landscape was littered with plastic water bottles.

As for the question in the post - I hope it will end with people a) drinking tap water and b) demanding safe drinkable tap water instead of tolerating declining standards from their public officials.

See, you could see bottled water as a fad, or you could see it as the stealth privatisation of a public utility (clean drinking water) whose ultimate conclusion will be bacteria-laden gloop from the reticulated supply and fat margins for the water oligopolists. (Their supply will look clean in a transparent bottle but the market will be deregulated to the point it will be laden with dissolved things that are not good for you.)

There will also be a bigger market for in-home purifiers, and people will comment on how wonderful it is that water treatment is now efficiently decentralised - a sign of the market doing what it's best at! A few old kooks like me will complain, but everyone else will say "what? The public purse pay for clean water? That's crazy talk. Everyone [who is not poor and ignorable] can afford bottled water! Who would want to drink unbranded water anyway?"
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:09 PM on July 4, 2008 [4 favorites]


"Water profiteering" just seems like a meaningless term to me. I have trouble getting excited about people paying other people to supply a scarce resource.

Water is essential to life. Not one person on earth can get along without water. If you do not find the idea of some people profiting off of water why those that can't afford it die of thirst revolting then I assume you are a Republican.
posted by any major dude at 10:10 PM on July 4, 2008


vito90, get a countertop Brita and start reusing the bottles and lying to yourself about it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:11 PM on July 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


please, no speculation about bottled water.
posted by brandz at 10:11 PM on July 4, 2008


Water is essential to life. Not one person on earth can get along without water. If you do not find the idea of some people profiting off of water why those that can't afford it die of thirst revolting then I assume you are a Republican.

Food is also essential to life, but I also have trouble getting excited about supermarkets. Does that make me a Republican? Are Democrats outraged by supermarkets? I'm not sure.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:15 PM on July 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


I live in a country where beer is less, actually, than bottled water. And it comes in either aluminum cans, immediately recyclable an infinite number of times, or glass bottles, which are taken back for either payment or in lieu of more beer at any and all convenience stores selling the stuff around here for 50 meters. How cheap? Why, $.30/650ml bottle, my man. God bless Beijing.

I can honestly tell you, I don't drink a lot of bottled water.
posted by saysthis at 10:17 PM on July 4, 2008 [2 favorites]


@Justinian

Nalgene is phasing out their bottles containing BPA, according to their website.

Anyway, I just picked up a stainless steel thermos-style container, which keeps my water cold all day with just a couple of ice cubes. I'm sure there's something in it that will eventually kill me, but I just don't care.
posted by Huck500 at 10:19 PM on July 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


What I do is drink half my water from the city, half from a local artesian well. A little fluoride and chlorine, a little unpredictable Earth water (slightly radioactive up here in the Rockies, probably).

Typical Libra strategy.
posted by kozad at 10:21 PM on July 4, 2008


I haven't bought bottled water in years. You get free bottled water at just about every function you go to these days. I fill 'em up with Brita water and sock 'em away in the freezer and the fridge. It's cheaper and easier on the environment.

Of course, bottled carbonated water is something I buy quite a bit of.
posted by hifiparasol at 10:26 PM on July 4, 2008


Food is also essential to life, but I also have trouble getting excited about supermarkets. Does that make me a Republican? Are Democrats outraged by supermarkets? I'm not sure.

If the food companies decided tomorrow to collude to raise food prices 500% I could forage for nuts, fruit and berries. I could hunt. I could clear some land and plant some crops. Tell me, if I lived in an area where the water is polluted - as do over 1 billion people - what is my recourse if a water company decides they want to charge more than I can afford?

Before you sigh and negate this as an impossible scenario, It has already happened in Bolivia.
posted by any major dude at 10:34 PM on July 4, 2008 [5 favorites]


I feel so dumb now. I'm gonna try that old wine bottle method.
posted by Flex1970 at 10:40 PM on July 4, 2008


I mostly filter tap water, rather than buying it in bottles, although I'll still grab one occasionally if I'm on the road.

However, this whole "oh, it's the same thing as tap water, nobody can tell the difference" is bunk. Some college kids were doing a double-blind taste test with our local tap water versus various kinds of bottled water, all of which had been sitting out at room temperature. They were doing it to demonstrate that tap water is just as good (part of the backlash). I correctly named all the varieties of bottled water and the tap, and I'm hardly someone with refined tastes. It was just obvious. I would have liked to have seen the rest of their data. Man, am I sick of weak studies like that.

That having been said, screw Fugi water. Goddamn, that's conspicuous consumption.
posted by adipocere at 10:48 PM on July 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why would anybody pay several dollars for a bottle of boring? Especially during happy hour?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:50 PM on July 4, 2008 [3 favorites]


A questionable link for sure. But anyway........ scroll down to high profile investors.
posted by notreally at 10:54 PM on July 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nalgene is phasing out their bottles containing BPA, according to their website.

I have a bunch of the "safe" HDPE Nalgene bottles - six, to be exact, as I only run the dishwasher once a week and like to have a clean bottle for each day - but they look kind of like something you'd store phosphoric acid in, so they probably don't appeal to the "look at me drinking from my hip Nalgene bottle" crowd. I like 'em, though.
posted by jal0021 at 11:19 PM on July 4, 2008


I really do not understand the small bottles of water phenomena.

I understand Brita filtering: our local tap water isn't bad, but it sure as heck tastes a lot better after passing through some activated carbon. And I understand big-ass jugs of water: we have one at work and it's a lot better than relying on people to refill a Brita.

But to buy it in small bottles? WTF? Get a damn Brita or water cooler and do it right.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:37 PM on July 4, 2008 [1 favorite]


Food is also essential to life, but I also have trouble getting excited about supermarkets.

There's much to be said about the class disparities in access to food that is nutritionally balanced and free from chemical additives. And a great deal of activity around this issue as well. A great many people excited about supermarkets, in other words, but this discussion belongs in another thread. . .

If you can't see the problem with subjecting all the basic resources necessary for life to free-market capitalism then I can only ask, "What's wrong with you?"
posted by flotson at 12:20 AM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


But to buy it in small bottles? WTF? Get a damn Brita or water cooler and do it right.

You're not at a big hurricane/typhoon risk in Canada, I'm guessing.
posted by Cyrano at 12:22 AM on July 5, 2008


If you can't see the problem with subjecting all the basic resources necessary for life to free-market capitalism then I can only ask, "What's wrong with you?"

I have a hard time thinking of a basic resource that isn't subject to free-market capitalism. So while it's fine to get excited about it if you want, you're a little late to the party. I think most of us just deal with it. Food, shelter, clothing, and even water haven't been free in America for a long time, unless you live in a rural area with public land you can forage/hunt/sleep/look for water on. In urban areas, none of these things are free, and all have multiple sources and thus are subject to "free-market capitalism". This was true before bottled water as well, water hasn't been free for most people for a long time, and if the government utilities charged too much, there are other sources.
posted by wildcrdj at 12:28 AM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Tap water sitting in glass in the fridge does taste better - doesn't have to be a wine bottle but thick glass bottles seem to work best. I've reused fancy french lemonade glass bottles with a ceramic cap for this. They are also awesome when you freeze a bit of water in them and pour fresh tap on top. Stays cold for ages, fits in your bag. (Lorina lemonade bottles if anyone else fancies a go. The pink one is nice.)

However, I can not give up my carbonated real mineral water. Something about the bubbles, yum.
posted by dabitch at 12:50 AM on July 5, 2008


proud bottled water drinker here... tap or filtered water is just vile.. mmmm evian and spa taste soo good. they taste even better now that all the hippies are up in arms against bottled water. i wonder what the next eco-fad will be.
posted by canned polar bear at 1:00 AM on July 5, 2008


Cyrano: bottled drinking water seems like a horribly bad way to prepare for disasters. IME, supermarkets have always sold big jugs of distilled water, nominally for camping and emergency stores. Trying to store your household's recommended three+ days' supply in little half-liter Dasani bottles seems … suboptimal.
posted by hattifattener at 1:00 AM on July 5, 2008


I've always just assumed that people who like bottled water that much come from places with crappy infrastructure. I suppose the Hummer makes sense too if your local government is too inept to keep the roads paved.
posted by hattifattener at 1:03 AM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


The difference with public utility water as a good is that there are no cheaper substitutes for the urban dweller, or for anyone outside high-rainfall areas. It's true that food and shelter and other essentials are provided in a market - but generally there is competition in the market, not just between providers, but between substitutable goods. Food and water are not equivalent in that respect.

I'm not against paying for public water. In fact, I think it's necessary to prevent wastage and preserve the resource, particularly in places that are less blessed with rainfall than where I live.

"if the government utilities charged too much, there are other sources"

For water to drink and wash with? I cannot think of a developed country where this is true, apart from in the countryside.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:03 AM on July 5, 2008


I love watching fads wax and wane. People get all into something, proclaim it the greatest thing in the world, an absolute essential, and then lose interest in it and pretend they never really got it.

Well, I guess it's time for me to hop into my recumbent steampunk SUV and head on down for my Tae Bo ultimate aerobic ketosis men's drumming and martini-mixing LEGO comix skateboard juggling session at the Starbucks Center for Pointless Twits. See you all there.
posted by pracowity at 1:13 AM on July 5, 2008 [8 favorites]


Oh, cripes, this again. You know why it doesn't make sense to permit private control of water supplies? Because it falls out of the fucking sky, people. Where's the ownership argument there? "It fell on my land, therefore it's mine"? Next up: wind rights.

The supermarket argument makes no sense because a tremendous amount of labor and material goes into growing crops. When fresh bananas start falling out of the sky, give me a call. Actually, don't bother. I won't be answering the phone, because I will be sitting outside in the middle of the street, eating all the free fucking bananas I can lay my hands on.
posted by phooky at 1:22 AM on July 5, 2008 [7 favorites]


While we are on W C Fields quotes: "I never drink water, fish fuck in it."
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:22 AM on July 5, 2008


Pssst, BrotherCaine. Check out the title of this post.
posted by grouse at 1:25 AM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


pracowity: I would love a recumbent steampunk SUV - as long as it was fueled with biodiesel.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:36 AM on July 5, 2008


A few months back I'd noticed I was getting backpains about where my kidneys are. A friend suggested that what ailed me was the fact I was essentially dehydrated, or under-hydrated. I did not drink water regularly, and when I did drink liquids it was always caffeinated and flavored and contained artificial crap. I had already tried cutting out sodas and other drinks cuz I'd been told they were bad for me for other reasons, but since I didn't enjoy drinking straight water, essentially that meant I began drinking anything less and less, which is about when the backpains started.

So the answer? Start drinking water. This took some getting used to cuz I used to really hate drinking water without some kinda flavoring in it. I used to think water didn't have flavor. Truth is, water has flavor. I was conditioned to not like water by a lifetime of drinking sodas. When I thought about that, I realized it's like only wanting to breathe air that smells expensive. So fuckit. I had to start drinking straight water.

However, I'm a lazy fuck, and if too much effort is involved in something as simple as making a point to change my habits and drink more than average amounts of water, I needed to make sure said water would literally be at my fingertips. Closer to me than walking down the hall to buy a Mountain Dew from the vending machine.

One day at a neighborhood store, they were selling water. I usually ignore bottled water because I've always assumed it to be a scam, but I suddenly realized this could resolve my situation. The water in question was on sale. They were selling it for less than they usually did, and it wasn't the water that interested me. It was the bottles. An insane amount of water bottles. I could take a half dozen or so to work and keep them at my desk. I could keep a few filled up in my car. I could keep the rest at home and refill them with normal tap water as needed.

Yes I coulda bought water bottles that didn't have water in them, but these were cheaper in bulk with water already in them than it woulda been if I'd tried to buy the same amount of empty bottles. Strange, that. Plus they wouldn't be the right size and shape for what works for me. And they're all the same size, which makes it easier for me to keep track of just how much water I'm drinking daily.

I don't like being OCD about my water consumption, but if I have to do it to feel better inside, I like making it as easy as possible to do. Oh, and yes, backpains have subsided. Yes, I'm aware this probably means I'm just this side of kidney failure. I'll jump that bridge when I come to it. Water bottles are helping me postpone that inevitability.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:58 AM on July 5, 2008


Almost all the offices I have worked in have both water coolers and staff kitchens. Is it that hard to get a glass and fill it from the cooler ad lib?

Talk about your decadent empires.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:22 AM on July 5, 2008 [2 favorites]




Hey hifiparasol, make your own!

My setup looks a lot like this one.

I have these 4 nice big glass 5 gallon water bottles that I fill up at the water place down the street (really nice tasting water at $0.20 a gallon).

Once I got all the parts (classified ads for the CO2 tank, welding supply store for the regulator, hardware store for tubes and valves), it took me about 10 minutes to assemble. I'm no DIY master genius tinker handyman, either.

Step-by-step instructions
Another description
posted by redteam at 3:16 AM on July 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


*blushes*
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:03 AM on July 5, 2008


I mostly filter tap water, rather than buying it in bottles... I correctly named all the varieties of bottled water and the tap

That's some kind of impressive right there. However, the survey referred to one of the articles linked wasn't asking people who can identify types of bottled water -- it was asking which tasted best. New York City tap water was an overwhelming victor, apparently. Similarly, in the NPR video clip, when asking people to differentiate between $55 a bottle 'Bling' water and free NYC tap water, most people thought the NYC tap water was what cost $55 a bottle.

Now I'm pretty sure that if you ask all those people whether their palate is sufficiently discriminating to tell bottled water from tap, they'd all insist that there's was up to that challenge too. Personally though, I'm now taking all such claims with a large glass of $55 a bottle Bling water. Well, either that or with a free glass of Liverpool tap water -- piped directly from Lake Vyrnwy in Wales to my doorstep. Or whichever of the two tastes better.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:06 AM on July 5, 2008


ZachsMind, IANAD, but dehydration can cause muscle pains, which could be hard to distinguish from kidney pain.

The center of the kidney, where the ureter is attached, is level with the intervertebral disc between the first and second lumbar vertebrae. Therefore, pain originating in the kidney is typically felt in the upper lumbar region and can radiate to the upper right or left quadrant of the abdomen.

If I recall correctly from a doctor showing me, the area would be about even with the base of the ribcage. I always used to think prior to that that the kidneys were about where one's back curves in (a bit below the belly button). That's a full handspan apart.

Still recurring pain is a good enough reason to see a doctor.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:18 AM on July 5, 2008


Personally, I'm just too tight-fisted to buy bottled water, regardless of the environmental cost - my lined aluminium bottle cost the same as five disposable plastic bottles of the same volume, so paid for itself in a week. (Admittedly, the tap water here is absolutely delicious, easily on a par with fancy brands of the bottled stuff, which helps.)
posted by jack_mo at 4:21 AM on July 5, 2008


I'm thinking, with the population explosion here in the Southwest, some kind of magical Ice Concoction.

Right after church, as the people leave, the truck rolls up, playing Nearer My God to Thee, or maybe Amazing Grace on the loudspeakers. The faithful line up to buy a Jesus Pop, in a variety of flavors. Wafer Delite and Blood O' Christ are popular at Catholic churches, while the Baptists favor Hellfire Hot and Pure Salvation. Methodists buy whatever is closest to hand. 10% of the profits are kicked back tithed to the location's church. Inside that building, when the flock has all left, the clergy turn the AC back on, or open the windows they'd closed before the service.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:24 AM on July 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm still trying to figure out why we're discussion something so damn obvious. It is a waste of energy and resources to produce the bottles which then pollute the environment. This isn't news, it isn't difficult to understand.
posted by HuronBob at 4:27 AM on July 5, 2008


damn... discussion=discussing
posted by HuronBob at 4:27 AM on July 5, 2008


Food is also essential to life, but I also have trouble getting excited about supermarkets.

The most relevant difference is that water, as typically distributed in non-bottled form, is a natural monopoly.

As politics goes, being "Republican" is hardly sufficient explanation for opposing the idea that government or something like it ought to regulate or directly own the water system; you'd actually have to be pretty hard-core libertarian to go there. It is about the strongest example there is of a public utility that usually does better service to the people when operated in something approaching a socialist not-for-profit arrangement.
posted by sfenders at 4:51 AM on July 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't have a cite other than this weekend's Sydney Morning Herald Good Weekend - "Reported number of plastic bottles discarded by Americans each hour: about 2.5 million." That can't be good.
posted by tellurian at 4:54 AM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


"What about going back to refillable glass bottles? .....Zero Waste expert Neil Seldman of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance doesn’t imagine anyone could persuade the beverage industry to go that route. “They have always lobbied against it,” Seldman says. “The industry does not want to deal with it after people buy their product—they want to wash their hands of the containers.” That’s why it makes the most sense to avoid creating the waste in the first place by drinking tap from your own container, Seldman says."

This statement is the crux of the problem- and the clue to the solution. If corporations and manufacturers were taxed on the packaging of their products, relative to the impact that packaging exerts on the environment, it would encourage more earth-friendly solutions. Corporations and industry exist to make profit, if we allow them to do that, but within resource-sustainable, earth friendly parameters, they will adapt.
posted by GreyFoxVT at 4:54 AM on July 5, 2008 [5 favorites]


I make my own water
posted by poppo at 5:05 AM on July 5, 2008


How is bottled water any more stupid than the caffeinated, carbonated, sugar water that we've been happily guzzling?
posted by klarck at 5:18 AM on July 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Us bumbling bipeds are well advanced in the process of turning the garden of Eden into a parking lot, the stupidity of bottled water is very indicative of this. It is not that money is the root of all evil, but the *LOVE* of money.
posted by dollyknot at 5:20 AM on July 5, 2008


The Bisphenol A (an endocrine disruptor) leaching from your Nalgene bottle probably gives the water extra flavor.

Everything I've read about Bisphenol A indicates that it's only a problem when you heat the container to high temperatures, like baby bottles in the microwave, or plastic containers in the autoclave (which is how the problem with BPA was discovered). If you keep room temp or cold water in your plastic bottles and rinse them by hand, you should be ok.
posted by Dave Faris at 5:25 AM on July 5, 2008


klarck: How is bottled water any more stupid than the caffeinated, carbonated, sugar water that we've been happily guzzling?

Because with a caffeinated, carbonated or sugared drink you're actually getting something you otherwise wouldn't with your money. You could argue lamely, that there's no real reason to drink any liquids other than water, but that would be ignoring the pleasure of having a tasty drink.
No doubt you're killing the world just the same, although I'm guessing a can of coke is less carbon miles from you then a bottle of spring water shipped in from France, Fiji, Italy, England or wherever the customer thinks of as a picturesque location and has a greater chance of being recycled.
posted by Static Vagabond at 6:02 AM on July 5, 2008


Let's talk about some of them. What is the significance of bottles of water?

It's all about ranking. It's essentially a contest. It used to be that bottled water was a status symbol. You drink Evian, or you drink Fiji, or what is the most expensive water.

But advanced-level white people, the higher-ranking white people, realized that they were creating a lot of waste, and so they switched over to the Nalgene bottle. That also reminded them of going camping. So then they could take a stance of superiority over the people who were drinking bottled water. And then, that whole story came out about Nalgenes leaching I don't know what the exact toxin is [Bisphenol A]. So then super-advanced white people went even further and got those metal Sigg bottles, and now you have this really solid hierarchy and ranking of white people of commercial bottled water, Nalgene bottle and either the glass or metal, twist-top bottles.
-- Salon interview with author of "Stuff White People Like", 7/5/08
posted by birdherder at 6:09 AM on July 5, 2008


Water doesn't have any caffeine in it, why whould anyone buy this crap?
posted by smackwich at 6:24 AM on July 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Bottled water. Ha. You kids hangin' out on my lawn got somethin' to learn. Word. Back when I was young (a long time ago!), when you were out and about, often you couldn't get ANY water. You had to drink Coke or some other sugary crap.

Then bottled water came along. Suddenly, when you want water, you can get water. Cold, too! Great improvement!

Now you're gonna go pushing things right back to the dark ages, and you'll be all dying of thirst and having to still pay Coke for something to drink, only then, it won't quench your thirst.
posted by Goofyy at 6:29 AM on July 5, 2008


It's telling that in Scandanavian countries, flavoured and fuzzy water dominate the stores. You will be hard pressed to find more than one or two brands of simple bottled water because everybody drinks from the tap. Best-tasting water I've ever tried as well.
posted by monocot at 6:39 AM on July 5, 2008


Food, shelter, clothing, and even water haven't been free in America for a long time, unless you live in a rural area with public land you can forage/hunt/sleep/look for water on. In urban areas, none of these things are free, and all have multiple sources and thus are subject to "free-market capitalism". This was true before bottled water as well, water hasn't been free for most people for a long time, and if the government utilities charged too much, there are other sources.

Really? The urban area you live in in the US has multiple providers of running water, competing just like broadband providers?

A couple of things -- first, in many cities (most certainly including NYC), a surprising number of large-scale water users are not metered. They just pay flat-rates, and use whatever they happen to use. So many users, in many places, are not paying market rates for the water they use. The current trend is towards metering, but there is a historical legacy here that will take many, many years and a lot of money to reverse.

Second, if the local water utility (public, private, or some blend of the two) decides to raise their rates, what are your options? For drinking water, you can have it delivered, but for water for washing, cleaning, cooking, and all the other uses we put it to, what are you going to do? In many municipalities in the US, use of rain water and surface water (eg the local creek) are limited by law; sinking a well requires permits that you are unlikely to get in a dense urban area, particularly in an area where the aquifer is under pressure from too much demand.

Third, what I've just described is a first-world situation: heavy regulation, cheap rates, monopoly on providing water. Water provision in much of the developing world is characterized by what you might call parallel distribution systems -- sort of a separate-and-unequal situation. The well-off receive good quality public piped water, usually charged at a flat rate and heavily subsidized -- even if it isn't safe to drink, it is perfectly adequate for bathing, washing, and so on. The poor have a choice of heavily polluted surface water or paying by the liter from a private water seller; their per-unit cost can be more than a hundred times higher than what the well-off pay for their publicly-provided piped water (citation; pdf discussing water costs in Pakistan). There are some cities that are exceptions to this rule, but it's generally true across much of the world.

Finally, of course you can do the tap water / bottled water test in NYC, because it has some of the best municipal water in the country. You could probably do the same thing in Portland, Ore, for the same reason. But there are a lot of towns and cities where the water is not that great tasting. It's still safer and probably healthier than the bottled water, and if run through a Brita tastes great, but the raw taste can be poor. It still makes more sense to buy a filter jug, or one of those filters that screws on the end of your faucet, than it does to buy lots of little bottles, but at the same time it's a bit irritating to keep seeing people pointing to a study that was carefully done in one of the cities with really nice-tasting tap water as being somehow representative more broadly.
posted by Forktine at 6:55 AM on July 5, 2008 [6 favorites]


New York's tap water is the reason the bagels taste better there than anywhere else.
posted by Mister_A at 7:42 AM on July 5, 2008


They used LA tap water too (in the P&T thing), which is not noted for its quality. Bottled water is indeed bullshit.
posted by Mister_A at 7:44 AM on July 5, 2008


I feel oddly compelled to buy a Sigg bottle.
posted by diogenes at 8:03 AM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]



You ever notice that recycling doesn't work so good with jokes? Especially Dennis Miller jokes.


Oh relax. Lots of people have made that observation before hearing it in a DML rant, myself included.
posted by autodidact at 8:14 AM on July 5, 2008


Bottled water is delicious water in convenient, portable form. I don't want to always want to carry water around with me, so sometimes I buy it in a bottle.

Same here. I live in NYC, and I appreciate the great tap water. It's what I drink when I'm at home. I drink bottled water when I'm not at home. I don't believe that the bottled water is special. I really don't care if it comes from mountain springs or the faucet in the bottled-water company.

I pretty much only drink water. I'm not a big soft-drink or juice person.

Though NYC has great tap water, it also has almost zero water fountains. I'm generally not home from 8am until 11pm. What am I supposed to do when I'm thirsty during the day? Not all workplaces have kitchens. And I'm not into getting water from the sink in the bathroom. Maybe that's irrational, but public bathrooms gross me out. I don't want to think about them while I'm drinking water.

I also don't want to carry a day's supply of water around with me. Water is heavy. It already pisses me off that I have to carry my laptop around with me and all the other crap I need to get through a busy day.

I don't mind paying $1 for a bottle of water. I don't think of it as a dollar for water. I think of it as a dollar for convenience. I love the fact that I can get a bottle of water on pretty much any street corner. I never have to be thirsty.
posted by grumblebee at 8:16 AM on July 5, 2008


I drink the yummy Potomac water provided by DC WASA . Read all about it. (On an up note, DC WASA operates two skimmer boats that remove floatable debris in the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers — up to 120 tons of trash per month, so they are helping clean up our local rivers, as well as providing potable water.) You can bet I run this stuff through a Brita filter before I drink it, cause it may be safe to drink, but it tastes nasty. Purely subjective, but I think water tastes better stored in glass or metal, rather than plastic, so when I need to take it with me, I use an stainless steel refillable water bottle.
posted by gudrun at 8:25 AM on July 5, 2008


I was struck when last in the US at how common it was, and how the landscape was littered with plastic water bottles.

Multi-use bottles and a bottle deposit (one with teeth—25¢ or more).

Next time I go to Germany, I'm bringing back a bunch of Mehrwegflaschen and even more bottle caps.
posted by oaf at 9:14 AM on July 5, 2008


New York's tap water is the reason the bagels taste better there than anywhere else.

Urban legend debunked.

Finagling his way -- Finagle A Bagel's Larry Smith proved you could make a New York bagel in Boston
Smith drove some Boston water to New York and compared bagels made from the two cities' tap water. "There was absolutely no difference between them," Smith reported. "What makes the difference is equipment, process and ingredients."
posted by ericb at 9:21 AM on July 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Whiskey is for drinking. Water is for fighting over.

Obviously.
posted by rtha at 9:45 AM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bottled water is delicious water in convenient, portable form. I don't want to always want to carry water around with me, so sometimes I buy it in a bottle.

Yeah, I think this a missing factor in the analyis Penn and Teller don't bother to explore. Bottled water is portable water. I think the most interesting question is when and how we got to a place as a society where people stopped being interested in carrying their own containers. Didn't people *have* to do that before widespread plumbing? Did they stop after that just because they could?

I think it's interesting that when I'd go on family vacations as a kid, we'd have one big water container, and my parents would dispense from it in paper cups. It wasn't until I got into outdoor recreation that I really started to think of other on-the-go options besides the drinking fountain and the giant portable jug.

The other thing is... sometimes tap water IS gross. To me, at least. 90% of the time it's fine, but there are sometimes when I really can't stand the taste of the local water for whatever reason, and if I'm just passing through, I'll sometimes buy bottled water while I'm there.

“I think the cost of our behavior should be built into the products,” Wilk says.

It is. I'm not sure the *costs* associated with the waste management are internalized by those who produce and sell it, but it's hard to argue that bottled water isn't sold with a pretty big premium.

Why don't you just buy into water and ride it to the top, chicken little?

I think buying in is a great idea, and I'm actually interested in how I can invest in water, just in case I can't steer society into making more decisions motivated by responsibiliy for the general welfare. However, my interests don't end with my personal hydration and assets.

I may also invest in fossil fuels, even as my politics leans towards more renewable options.
posted by weston at 9:48 AM on July 5, 2008


Long live bottled water and the bacteria in it!
posted by watercressprincess at 9:57 AM on July 5, 2008


Ahhh...another thread chastizing ignorant and selfish bottled-water drinkers. It's been a a while since the last one. Or the one before that.

Honestly, I think proselytizing against the evils of bottled water is almost as big a fad as is drinking bottled water. Fortunately, even the threads are recyclable.
posted by darkstar at 10:10 AM on July 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


The best solution to the problem of waste reduction and recycling is to make manufacturers responsible for the cradle-to-grave lifespan of their products. As soon as the burden for dealing with waste falls to those who manufacture it, waste levels will plummet and recycling efforts will skyrocket.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:38 AM on July 5, 2008 [4 favorites]


i'm surprised that there were no george carlin quotes in this thread.

and by the way, it's really bad for you to re-use the plastic bottles that are used to package bottled water. there's a lot of nasty shit in the plastic, and the plastic is not high enough in quality. so, the nasty stuff leaches into the liquid in the bottle. it gets worse the longer/more often you use the bottles.

even nalgene bottles have some nastiness in them.

i think i'll have a glass of water. yeah, that's the ticket.
posted by CitizenD at 10:52 AM on July 5, 2008


I think proselytizing against the evils of bottled water is almost as big a fad as is drinking bottled water.

That might be true, but does it make the reasoning invalid? It seems true that disposable water bottles generate unnecessary waste, and costs several orders of magnitude more for dubious benefits.

But advanced-level white people, the higher-ranking white people, realized that they were creating a lot of waste, and so they switched over to the Nalgene bottle. That also reminded them of going camping. So then they could take a stance of superiority over the people who were drinking bottled water. And then, that whole story came out about Nalgenes leaching I don't know what the exact toxin is [Bisphenol A]. So then super-advanced white people went even further and got those metal Sigg bottles, and now you have this really solid hierarchy and ranking of white people of commercial bottled water, Nalgene bottle and either the glass or metal, twist-top bottles.

Yeah. And those people who bought a Prius? They only did it so they could use it as a status item and Lord their envirorighteousness over you.

Sometimes, I think Stuff White People Like might be engaging in parody of armchair subculture analysts as much as mocking the culture. Wouldn't that be ironic? And therefore extra funny?
posted by weston at 11:01 AM on July 5, 2008


How is bottled water any more stupid than the caffeinated, carbonated, sugar water that we've been happily guzzling?

It's not. Both are equally fucking ridiculous.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:47 AM on July 5, 2008


I'm lucky enough to live in a place that has very clean, tasty water in abundant supply (there are a dozen freshwater fountains near me). All free. My bottled water is the stuff I bottle personally.
posted by chuckdarwin at 12:14 PM on July 5, 2008


I get a water quality report from Los Angeles every year. I have a degree in biomedical engineering from a very good school and I can't make heads or tails of it. I mean, are these numbers good? bad? Middle? How about some context!

Maybe I'd consider drinking my tap water if they didn't obfuscate the water quality report. I have to assume they're trying to hid that the water will kill me or something.
posted by Justinian at 12:34 PM on July 5, 2008


That might be true, but does it make the reasoning invalid?

In some cases, yes. But inasmuch as I've already posted my thoughts at length in previous bottled water threads, I won't torment folks here with a recapitulation.
posted by darkstar at 1:28 PM on July 5, 2008


BTW, I just learned something coincidentally topical: the original, archaic meaning of "to chastize" was "to purify".
posted by darkstar at 1:29 PM on July 5, 2008


I have a degree in biomedical engineering from a very good school and I can't make heads or tails of it.
Let me try to clear it up for you: A "degree" is what colleges award to students who have completed a certain course of study. You may not be able to make heads or tails of it because you're holding the diploma upside down.
posted by joaquim at 1:31 PM on July 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


yeah, a world where you can't drink the tap water is a world i not only don't want to live in, it's a world i don't even want to imagine living in. if it kills me, so be it. i drink bottled water only when the real stuff just isn't available.

a sort of aside about packaging in general: when i went to the soviet union back in '89 i was truly impressed by their packaging...there were only about 3 or 4 different sizes of bottles/jars and EVERYTHING came in them...ketchup in the same bottles as soda, etc...it really drove home the notion that reusing is much better/more efficient than recycling, just wash and change the label. also, the bottles came in all the usual colors of glass (clear, green, brown) but weren't sorted by product...ie, you'd see the same product in different colored bottles...often you'd see retailers using this to make patterns down the aisles of the store...long, geometric patterns of colored bottles...cool, pretty, and i wish we had it here.
posted by sexyrobot at 3:11 PM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


How is bottled water any more stupid than the caffeinated, carbonated, sugar water that we've been happily guzzling?

If you could get Coca-Cola out of every tap in every building in the city, you'd be an idiot (and an environmental dickhead) to go to the store to pay much more per unit for the privilege of buying Coca-Cola in a disposable bottle and carrying it around until you drank it.

But Coke doesn't come out of the taps; water does.
posted by pracowity at 4:52 PM on July 5, 2008


Unless the Coke that came free out of your tap tasted sometimes like chlorine, sometimes like a calcium salt lick and sometimes like a fish might have died in it somewhere upstream from your tap.

Which my tap water sometimes does, regardless of municipal assurances of its safety or the incredulity of proselytes in this thread.

(NOT ENVIRONMENTAL DICKHEADIST)
posted by darkstar at 6:48 PM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


I usually drink straight tap water because it's the most convenient thing to do, I'm too lazy to deal with filtration systems, and I hate spending money. I do this pretty much irrespective of where I live or how good the water is. This may or may not have terrible repercussions on my health someday, but so does pretty much everything I do. C'est la vie.
posted by lunit at 7:26 PM on July 5, 2008


I like bottle water because it makes other people realise that I also have disposable income.
posted by oxford blue at 9:21 PM on July 5, 2008


Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America writes "Why don't you just buy into water and ride it to the top, chicken little?"

And that helps society how?

klarck writes "How is bottled water any more stupid than the caffeinated, carbonated, sugar water that we've been happily guzzling?"

Coke isn't provided from a tap in my kitchen via a distributed network supported by my utility bill.
posted by Mitheral at 9:41 PM on July 5, 2008


I often wonder how many people have ice cold, filtered water dispensers right on the doors of their refrigerators in their suburban McMansions and yet still buy Fuji water and can't even be arsed to put the bottles in their municipality-provided blue recycling bins and tote them to the curb once a week.
posted by Dreama at 11:06 PM on July 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


Unless the Coke that came free out of your tap tasted sometimes like chlorine...

Yes, fine, if your tap water is demonstrably bad when compared to bottled water in blind taste tests, then drink bottled water while you do something about your city water, which doesn't have to be bad. Fixing your own city's water supply is probably a lot more sensible financially (not to mention...) than buying water from another city in little plastic bottles.

But most people's tap water is actually pretty good. People have just been brainwashed quite recently into thinking it must taste bad or be bad for you or otherwise be inferior to the water some company is advertising.
posted by pracowity at 12:55 AM on July 6, 2008


Fixing your own city's water supply is probably a lot more sensible financially (not to mention...) than buying water from another city in little plastic bottles.

Well, I'd be interested in seeing the cost-benefit analysis that supports that assertion. :)

In any event, I buy water from my own city in large plastic bottles. Another bottled water assumption down the drain (if you will).
posted by darkstar at 1:20 AM on July 6, 2008


Do most of you live in cities where there are no self-serve water jug stations?

They're all around the place here. All the grocery stores, plus at least a half-dozen 24/7 self-serve coin-op stations. You purchase (put a deposit on?) a big-ass heavy-duty water cooler jug for about ten to fifteen bucks. You purchase a jug stand for your home or office, which may or may not be refrigerated and/or serve hot water. And you fill it up for about two bucks.

I think the jugs are 20L in size (5 US Gallons). The jugs are reusable forever. Helluva deal.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:44 AM on July 6, 2008


Do most of you live in cities where there are no self-serve water jug stations?

I know what you're talking about. I used those regularly when I lived in Florida. But I've never seen one in NYC. They may exist, but even if they do, they wouldn't be practical for me.

Like many New Yorkers, I don't own a car. I get my groceries by walking to the grocery store and back. I can just barely carry what I buy as it is. I can't imagine lugging gallons of water, too.
posted by grumblebee at 9:29 AM on July 6, 2008


We also have a half-dozen vendors who will deliver right to your door.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:19 AM on July 6, 2008


Static Vagabond: You could argue lamely, that there's no real reason to drink any liquids other than water, but that would be ignoring the pleasure of having a tasty drink.

Apparently 100 years of "Drink Coke" ads have proven effective. There's a big difference in having a tasty drink once in a while and leaving the majority of your hydration (and not to mention a couple hundred kcal) to sugar water. And your local landfill is receiving a lot more Coke bottles than Dasani bottles each day.
posted by klarck at 4:16 PM on July 6, 2008


I make my own water. Two parts H, one part O. I don't trust anybody!
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:04 PM on July 6, 2008


I make my own water too, but with a different process.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:46 PM on July 6, 2008


and LA drinks your water. ;)
posted by caddis at 6:53 PM on July 6, 2008


Yes, I've always been of that opinion.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:22 PM on July 6, 2008


This Is Just To Say

That I drank
The tap water
That was in the Sigg bottle
In the icebox fridge

And which
You were probably
Saving
For later refreshment

Forgive me
It was delicious
So sweet
And so cold

Plus it had
Some weird hippy design
On it.
posted by turgid dahlia at 7:34 PM on July 6, 2008


Hello!

Just to inform you: Penn and Teller are Bullshit.

That is all.

-The people that want you to drink Water[tm]

...from a very expensive plastic bottle.
posted by phylum sinter at 9:40 PM on July 6, 2008


Because it falls out of the fucking sky, people

But not, in many places, sufficiently to meet people's daily needs with any reliability. Food grows out of the fucking ground, but we still have hunger.
posted by regicide is good for you at 11:23 PM on July 6, 2008




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