A speech by Charles Cave delivered at Chatswood Early Risers Toastmasters club – 16th December 2008
This morning I am talking about a very popular drink with a premium price tag. Could it be freshly squeezed fruit juice? No. Maybe a boutique
Australian beer? No. This popular drink costs more than these drinks. It’s bottled water. That’s right – Water! Nowadays, many people pay good money for
something that is readily available from the tap.
But there is a downside. A recent story in New Internationalist magazinemade me aware of the environmental impact of these plastic bottles. I did some research and want to share my findings with you. 20 years
ago, bottled water barely existed as a business. But two years ago, Australians spent $385 million on bottled water, paying an average of $1.50 a litre. That’s more expensive
Why do people pay good money for something you can get from a tap for free? The answer is marketing. In 1976 Perrier entered the American market promoting
their product not as water, but as a beverage.Perrier’s goal was to undermine sales of Coke which they did. After 3 years, sales were $60 million.
Next, the Evian company entered the American market in 1984. They used images of toned young men and women in tight clothes, sweating at the gym and quenching their thirsts with Evian
water. Even Madonna drank Evian on stage. Evian had become a status symbol and fashion accessory. But remember, Evian spelt backwards is
Is bottled water better for us? The bottled water industry has spent a lot of money telling us their product is pristine, pure and safe as well as healthier and safer than tap
water. Sydney Water is treated to meet the Australian
Drinking Water Guidelines. The water is tested and monitored at every stage of supply and quality reports are published. How often
is bottled water tested? Over the past few years there have been chemical contaminations of various bottled water brands.
Young people are now growing up with the idea that tap water is dangerous and undermines trust in Sydney Water and the clean water they provide. What an irresponsible
and dangerous thing to say! Why should Sydney Water provide clean water if the public prefers to pay 500 times more for bottled water?
What about the taste? Choice magazine ran a tasting of Mount Franklin,
Frantelle and Sydney Tap water and their tasters couldn’t tell the difference.
Bottled water is expensive. You can buy 30 litres of tap water for five cents. The equivalent in bottled water will set you back over $50. Is that good sense?
What about the plastic bottles? About 100 ml of crude oil is used to make the plastic for one bottle. In addition, manufacturing each ton of plastic produces 3 tonnes of carbon
dioxide. But that is just the beginning because the bottles have to be shipped to their final destination. For example, Fiji water, as the name suggests is bottled in Fiji and shipped to Australia.
Once the consumer has drunk the water, what happens to the empty bottles? The plastic is certainly recyclable but in the USA, about 85 percent of water bottles escape recycling and end up in
litter or landfill. A similar pattern has emerged in Australia.
So what can you do? Bottled water has become a trendy fashion accessory, and at the same time an environmental nightmare.
Bottled water should be viewed in the same was as plastic bags – environmentally unsustainable.
At the office, use a water jug and glasses for your visitors. There’s no need to give bottles to your guests or pay for fancy bottled water dispensers.
Don’t waste your money buying bottled water. You will help save your environment as well as saving money.
Sydney tap water is safe and ideal for your needs. And when you go out, take your own bottle filled from the tap.
You need to drink at least one to two litres of water a day but please –make it tap-water.
As the United States becomes a nation of 300 million, the country’s older cities face the reality of overpopulation, crumbling infrastructures, and the health concerns raised by both, especially
those related to the availability of fresh water.
Eric Goldstein, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, has stated that the water distribution systems of cities such as Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia and New York are in urgent
need of repair.
The antiquated water delivery systems in these cities are comprised of nearly 1 million miles of piping, mostly made of iron. As the iron pipes corrode, clean water flowing through them becomes
contaminated with rust. Over time the pipes also rupture, causing not only water loss, but the introduction of pollutants and diseases from the ground.
“Investigations conducted in the last five years suggest that a substantial proportion of waterborne disease outbreaks, both microbial and chemical, are attributable to problems within
distribution systems,” said the National Research Council in a report released in December for the Environmental Protection Agency.
There are 170,000 public water distribution systems at work nationwide, and municipalities spend more than $50 million each year to supply clean drinking water in accordance with the Safe
Drinking Water Act of 1974.
“If you clean up water and then put it into a dirty pipe, there’s not much point,” said Montana State University microbiologist and water research scientist, Timothy Ford. “I consider the
distribution system to be the highest risk and the greatest problem we are going to be facing in the future,” said Ford.
Jack Hossbuhr, executive director of the American Water Works Association, estimates that the cost of replacing existing pipelines over the next 20 to 30 years is going to cost water utility
companies some $250 to $350 billion.
Some critics of current water delivery techniques feel that replacing the infrastructure is not a total solution.
“I advise everyone to avoid drinking water from the tap, no matter how clean the city claims it to be,” said consumer health advocate Mike Adams. “Even when cities claim their water is clean,
they may still add toxic fluoride chemicals and chlorine, which we know promotes bladder cancer. Filtering your water is crucial for protecting your health.”