When historians study the Great American Empire, ridiculous government spending may prove to be our lasting legacy. According to Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla., last year our government spent $120 million for federal retirement benefits to retirees who were dead.
More than $550,000 of our hard-earned tax dollars went to the production of a documentary on how rock bands contributed to the fall of the Soviet empire. And then there’s my favorite - $593,000 went to study where in a chimpanzee’s brain they get the idea to throw their feces.
This federal fiscal insanity, however, may merely be a reflection of our society’s disregard for sound financial decisions in general. Of all the wasteful spending habits of the American public, perhaps paying a thousand times more for something you’re already paying for may be the silliest of all.
According to MSLK – a New York based graphic design firm that uses art to raise awareness on the consumption of plastic – the U.S. consumes 1,500 plastic water bottles every second. Americans shell out approximately $10 billion dollars a year for bottled water – a fluid that flows out of every faucet in their house at the cost 50 cents per year for two liters of water a day.
Here’s the worst part, the majority of bottled water sold in this country comes from a municipal source. The two largest supplier of bottled water in the nation – Coca-Cola (Dasani) and Pepsi (Aquafina) are selling you tap water, as are many smaller companies.
Despite the fact that Americans have one of the cleanest public water supplies in the world with 94-percent of all drinking water meeting federal standards, consumers have come to perceive tap water as inferior. However, when test-comparisons are done, municipal water consistently tastes better and contains fewer toxins that bottled water.
The bottled water industry doesn’t explicitly claim that their water is healthier or safer than municipal water. Their ads, however, with beautiful people next to glaciers, crystal blue streams and mountain springs certainly suggest it is.
A group called Corporate Accountability International has slammed bottled-water companies claiming they use advertising to undermine the public’s trust in America’s municipal water supply. The group has launched a nationwide campaign called “Think outside the bottle,” which includes blind taste tests of bottled water and tap water (http://www.stopcorporateabuse.org/think-outside-bottle/).
“Across the board, people can’t tell the difference,” says Bryan Hirsh, a spokesman for Corporate Accountability. “Over 1,000 people have taken the test in more that a dozen cities and the overwhelming sentiment from them is that they’ve been duped.”
Stephen Kay, vice-president of the International Bottled Water Association, claims bottled water promises “quality, safety and consistency.” So, who’s selling you the superior product – bottled water corporations or your municipal government?
The National Resources Defense Council – an environmental action organization – recently completed a study of more than 1,000 bottles of 103 brands of bottled water. One-third of the bottled water contained some level of contamination, including synthetic organic chemicals, bacteria and arsenic.
Although both the federal government and most states have bottled water safety standards, the NRDC claims water regulations are inadequate to assure consumers of either purity or safety,. At the national level, the Food and Drug Administration is responsible for bottled water safety but the FDA’s rules completely exempt water that is packaged and sold within the same state, which accounts for about 60 to 70-percent of all water sold in the United States.
Even when bottled waters are covered by FDA rules, they are subject to less rigorous testing and purity standards than those that apply to city tap water. For example, bottled water is required to be tested less frequently than municipal water and rules allow for some contamination by E-coli or fecal coli form, which is contrary to tap water requirements.
If the thought of fecal matter floating in your bottled water isn’t discouraging enough, here’s a summary of some final facts about bottled water and then you can draw your own conclusion:
- Tap water is as least as safe as bottled water if not more so.
- Bottled water is a thousand time more expensive than water from your faucet.
- In the U.S. alone, 17 million barrels of oil are used each year to provide bottled water.
- Out of the 50 million bottles of water being purchased each year, 80 percent end up in land fills.
- And finally, 40-percent of all bottled water is derived from municipal tap water.
Anybody want to buy some bottled high-altitude air? Give me a call – I’ll sell it to you cheap!
Cord Prettyman is a certified Master Personal Trainer and the owner of Absolute Workout Fitness and Post Re-hab Studio in Woodland Park. He can be reached at 687-7437 or at firstname.lastname@example.org