Apr 19, 2009

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

while I completely agree with Daniel Goleman's and Gregory Norris's assertion in their op-ed piece "How Green Is My Bottle?" (April 19) that in these ecologically-minded times we should beware of those capitalizing on our concerns, I wanted to point out some blind spots that I perceive in the opinion piece.

For one, everyone I know who carries reusable water bottles use bottles, such as those made by SIGG and other companies, which are manufactured out of aluminum, not stainless steel. I'm not sure how much that changes the environmental impact of reusable water bottles, but I think it's important to point it out.

Additionally, while I do refill my bottle with water from water fountains, I also like to bring my bottle to places that aren't near water fountains so that I don't have to buy bottled water. I will also use my aluminum water bottle when I'm on professional panels, rather than use the bottled water they set out for readers and panelists.

I also feel that the article placed unnecessary concern on the build-up of bacteria in reusable bottles. I wash everything I drink or eat out of, and I've never gotten sick from my forks or plates or glasses. My reusable water bottle is also cleaned the same way I clean my dishes. I'm not afraid of bacteria; what I am afraid of, however, are toxins in certain types of plastics.

I prefer to use my aluminum bottle rather than use a reusable plastic bottle because of a phenomenon called leeching, which the editorial also doesn't disclose. Many plastic bottles leech toxins from the plastic into the water. One of the biggest toxins in plastic bottles is bisphenol A (BPA). If a consumer is considering buying a reusable water bottle, they should be certain that the bottle doesn't leech BPA or other toxins.

The piece also fails to disclose the impact of pumping water that bottled water corporations have on communities all over the world. Pumping water to fill millions of water bottles dries out rivers and streams, leading to ecological devastation and supply shortages for the residents and wildlife that depend on these streams. Bottled water companies are essentially profiting from something that should be free.

There are other hidden costs of plastic bottles: the raw plastic materials used in plastic production ends up being dumped in water supplies and in turn is digested by many species, including organisms that filter water, such as mollusks, which die from ingesting these small pieces of plastic, confusing them for sand.

Clean water is a right that all humans should have, of course, and those who cannot afford clean water should not be deprived of it. I realize that my aluminum water bottle isn't just a convenience, it's a political statement, one that I'm proud to make wherever I go and wherever bottled water is sold.

Oh, and how could Goleman and Norris miss one of the biggest impacts of plastic water bottles? The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is where plastic ends up, and it's the size of Texas. I grew up in Texas, so I can personally tell you that Texas is a big-assed state.

Thank you for your attention.


Sophia said...

AMEN! I love my water bottle!
(It's made of hard plastic though, Nalgene-style...is that safe?)
-Sophia U

Nik said...

Cheers to this! Did they publish it already? If not, I hope they do!

Jenny Boully said...

Thanks, Sophia. I'm sure your water bottle is safe!

Nik, I just sent the letter in. I doubt they'll publish it or even read it, but it sure felt good to write it and do something proactive for once (rather than just get mad and complain, like I usually do!).

Big American Christian said...

Right on, sister.

Marcy said...

Hurray for re-usable water bottles! I just made my donation to the World Wildlife fund so I could get two stainless steel water bottles. I'm going green, finally! I, too, have been washing and re-using my plastic water bottles, without bacteria worries. I ain't afraid of no germs... I keep losing my non-plastic bottles, though, but with the Word Wildlife bottles, my purchase is a donation, so I won't mind replacing them!

Love you,

M. C. Allan said...

jenny b, how did I not know you had a blog?