Take Back the Tap - Eliminate Plastic Water Bottles

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1. Plastic bottles are not sustainable, no matter what we've been told. 

Using vast quantities of fossil fuels and water, these bottles are manufactured, filled, and shipped around the globe. (Not a good carbon footprint!) Neither are bottles biodegradable in any meaningful way: what you drink in a few minutes can stick around for a thousand years. 

Even with recycling efforts, 6 out of 7 plastic bottles consumed are “downcycled”—sent somewhere out of sight and out of mind where, for the next millennia, toxins from degrading plastic containers can leach into watersheds and soil. That’s just not something we need to give to global neighbors and future generations. 

An estimated THREE MILLION plastic water bottles ended up in Metro Vancouver landfills per year.

2. Most bottled water is glorified tap water at 10,000 times the cost. 

The label on your bottled water may depict a peaceful mountain stream, but that doesn't mean the water inside is pure and pristine. 

Only some bottled water comes from springs or groundwater sources. It turns out that approximately 25% of bottled water is sourced from ... the tap. Sure, some companies filter or radiate the tap water with ultraviolet light before selling it to you at several thousand times the cost of municipal tap water. (Examples include Aquafina, Dasani, and many other brands.) 

Moreover, studies show that bottled water samples can contain phthalates, mold, microbes, benzene, trihalomethanes, even arsenic. And only recently did the FDA start regulating bottled water for E. Coli, thanks to advocacy by the Natural Resources Defense Council. 

Vancouver's tap water costs about $0.00065 per litre, while a one litre bottle of designer filtered water can fetch as much as $1.75 -- more than 2,500 times the price.

Upshot: bottled water markup is EXTREME.

3. Many bottled waters contain toxins, even if they've nixed BPA. 

Plastic isn't just bad for the planet (see #1). It’s not good for you, either. 

Bottled water companies increasingly use BPA-free plastic, but laced into plastic bottles are other chemicals that can seep out if bottles are exposed to heat or sit around for a long time. Some of these chemicals are possible endocrine disruptors. No one knows for sure what the health outcomes are. Do you really want your body to undergo that experiment? 

4. Sustainable cities and First Nations communities have already been smart enough to take back the tap.

New York City’s Fashion Week, Chez Panisse, the city of San Francisco and Grand Canyon National Park have all reduced or eliminated bottled water! AVEDA teamed up with New York’s Department of Environmental Protection during Fashion Week 2010 to provide free drinking fountains on the streets of New York.

A First Nation near Lillooet, B.C. has banned the sale of bottled water in an attempt to highlight the need for safe drinking water in indigenous communities. The Tsal’alh First Nation, also known as the Seton Lake Indian Band, is the first indigenous “Blue Community.” Here, bottled water won’t be sold at public facilities, and won’t be available at community meetings. “We’re hoping this is the beginning of the wave across the country,” says the community’s former chief, Garry John.

5. Local water is the new complement to local, organic food. 

Local food is everywhere these days: CSAs, farmers markets, farm-to-table dining. That local food is grown and cooked with … local water! It’s the invisible part of the sustainable, healthy food you eat. 

So, locavores, it’s time to get your hydrophilia on and appreciate your water supply just as much as you do your CSA. Shouldn’t we care for and support our water sources like we support healthy, organic, local farms? 

6. If any city should make this change.. Vancouver is the place!

Metro Vancouver’s source water is enviably good because it is supplied from mountain reservoirs located upstream from local industrial, agricultural and human effluent. Nature should get the credit for this. Our water treatment plants then process this ‘raw’ water to remove sediment and to make it ‘micro-biologically safe’. UV, ozone and chlorine are used to inactivate micro-organisms present in the source water that could be dangerous to human health.

Metro Vancouver tap water comes from rain water and snow melt captured in three huge reservoirs located up in the Northshore Mountains: Capilano, Seymour and Coquitlam reservoirs. This water is processed in a water treatment plant before being delivered to your tap. Metro Vancouver supplies tap water to these municipalities:

Anmore
Bowen Island
Burnaby
Coquitlam
Delta
Langley (City)
Langley (Township)
Maple Ridge
New Westminster
North Vancouver (City)
North Vancouver (District)
Pitt Meadows
Port Coquitlam
Port Moody
Richmond
Surrey
Vancouver
West Vancouver

7. Change is simple—and makes a real difference.

When you ditch disposable bottled water, you save money, live healthier, and join a movement for global sustainability. Plus, it’s easy. And you’ll save money. 

Yes, you’ll need to take that first step of buying your re-usable bottle, and then remember it when you jog out the door. But if “keys, wallet, yoga mat” are on your mental checklist anyway, what’s one more item that saves you money and protects the planet? 

If after six months, you still crave water from Fiji, then I suggest the following: take the money you’ve saved by sipping strategically. Treat yourself to a vacation in, well, Fiji—where you can hydrate, surf, relax, and celebrate the fact that you are an awesome part of the solution. (Christina Z. Peppard)

Please sign the petition to support your interest in creating a law to ban the sale of non-sparkling, unflavored drinking water in single-serving polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles of 1 litre (34 ounces) or less in the City of Vancouver.

Let's work together to make Vancouver a paragon of sustainability.



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