The Grand Portage Reservation is at the northeastern tip of Minnesota. The Air Quality Program has many ongoing projects in order to maintain healthy indoor and outdoor air. These projects include monitoring for regional haze and particulate matter, indoor air quality, invasive plant removal, public outreach, environmental education, alternative energy, and climate change.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Don't Drink the (Bottled) Water

In 2009 Americans spent 10.6 billion dollars on bottled water, according to the International Bottled Water Association. Why do we spend so much money on something that we can get for almost free from our tap? Tap water is safe to drink in the United States, and it is available in our homes and at our work and schools. Bottled water is expensive and extra waste is created during the production of bottled water and when people do not recycle plastic bottles. When you add the fact that some bottled water is just purified tap water, you wonder why we throw away money on something as unsustainable and costly as bottled water.

Daniel Gross expressed his frustration with bottled water well in his article about Charles Fishman's new book The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water. In his article, he states "Fishman isn't an anti-bottled water scold. But I am. With apologies to the good people at Poland Springs and Evian, there is something absurd about taking water out of a tap, or a spring somewhere in Maine (or, even worse, Fiji), pumping it into plastic containers — whose construction consumes lots of energy, chemicals and petroleum — and then shipping those containers on trucks (more petroleum consumed) to the point of sale, whence a consumer will slug it down and then toss the bottle into the garbage. Next, that bottle will most likely make its energy-intensive way back to a landfill. The IBWA notes that, last year, only 31 percent of plastic water bottles were recycled".

If you are concerned about drinking tap water, get a filter. Filter your own water, and you will save yourself and the planet a great cost. to learn more about the costs associated with buying bottled water, watch Annie Leonard's film "The Story of Bottled Water". In her film, she will tell you that bottled water is sometimes cleaner than tap water, but sometimes not and that during taste tests comparing bottled water to tap water, people chose tap water to be tastier. So, go ahead and enjoy the water from your home tap. Remember to appreciate the clean water that is delivered right to your home while so many others have to travel to access clean water and then haul it back their homes.

If you need convincing that plastic waste is indeed harmful to the planet, check out this picture of trash floating in the ocean. Due to our wasteful, garbage producing culture, there are great patches of garbage floating in the oceans. The garbage collects in ocean currents and forms large piles of trash. The largest of these is known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and is about the size of Texas (or double the size of Texas, we are currently unsure).

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