The new Speaker of the House John Boehner recently made waves with his intention to cut $35 million of bloated spending from the U.S. House of Representatives' budget. News reports noted a prime example of that waste: In the first quarter of 2010 alone, the House spent $190,000 taxpayer dollars on bottled water. That's a lot of money—equivalent to paying perhaps 4 teachers' salaries—so that our elected officials can sip water that's bad for the planet to boot. Luckily, Speaker Boehner has plenty of support if he wants to cut back on bottled water spending. On January 5th, George S. Hawkins, general manager of the area water utility DC Water, wrote Boehner a letter offering to supply each member of Congress with his or her own reusable water bottle (for free!). Hawkins even offered Congress free water quality testing to assuage concerns from lawmakers who aren't keen on the idea, and some DC residents have opted for water filters in cases where they feel their water needs it—our elected representatives could do the same.
Bottled water is not safer or healthier than tap water, and often comes from the tap anyway. It can be up to 1,900 times more expensive, and the energy needed to produce the plastic is enough to fuel nearly 3 million cars for a year. Nearly one million tons of plastic water bottles are discarded as litter each year, ending up in landfills, lakes and streams. Already, many state and city governments are phasing out their bottled water purchases in this era of environmental and fiscal responsibility. The Congress of the United States should do the same. Tell Speaker Boehner and your own Congressional representatives to make good on the promise to cut wasteful spending, and eliminate bottled water purchases from the House budget. Sign the petition to the new speaker below.