Saturday, September 05, 2009

Two Parts H and One Part O

First of all, I never ever buy bottled water. And whether you drink it or not, you probably already know all the reasons you shouldn't, but I'm going to tell you anyway.

First of all, the standards for bottled water are lower than they are for municipal water supplies, so if you drink it, you're probably drinking something that isn't as good as what comes out of your tap. And as if that weren't bad enough, chemicals from the bottles can leach into the water, making the quality even worse. It's also a lot more expensive than tap water. The bottles don't biodegrade, and although they can be recycled, recycling is energy-intensive and expensive, and it probably releases chemicals into the atmosphere. By the way, the same thing is true when they make the bottles -- production of plastic bottles is oil-intensive, and the manufacturing process causes a lot of unnecessary pollution. Then of course, transporting the bottled water all around the world increases oil consumption and creates even more pollution. And finally, at least in the case of Fiji water, every bottle you buy goes toward propping up the military dictatorship of Fiji, while the water supply for the native Fijians is barely fit to drink.

Those are just the reasons I could think of off the top of my head. I could probably come up with a few more if I thought about it. For me, any one of those reasons is probably good enough, but all those reasons put together make drinking bottled water the wrong thing to do on just about every level. That's why I never buy it and that's why I never drink it.

Okay, having said all that, I should mention that I bought some bottled water last week. It was sort of an emergency and I hated myself for doing it, but there was nothing I could do about it. I was at a movie theater and I didn't feel well for some reason. It was around noon, and it was a hot day, and I hadn't had anything to eat or drink since I went to bed the night before, so I thought that if I had something to drink, it might make me feel better. My only choices were bottled water or soft drinks or sugary bottled "juice drinks." So the bottled water was the least of three evils.

It didn't make me feel any better, but that's not really the point. And if you're wondering what the point is, don't ask me, because I'm not really sure if there is one.

But here's my point: You don't need to buy bottled water unless you feel the need to waste your money, ruin the environment, or support a repressive military regime. Your best bet is probably to filter your own water. If you have a relatively new refrigerator with a water and ice dispenser on the freezer door, you've probably got a filter inside the refrigerator that all the water passes through before it reaches the dispenser. So all you have to do is fill up a container from the water dispenser and put it in your refrigerator. Then you'll have as much nice cold refreshing filtered water as you can drink.

But if you don't have a water dispenser built in to your refrigerator, there's no need for despair. Just buy one of those pitchers with a built in filter. I'm not sure how they work, because I don't have one, but I think you just fill the pitcher by pouring the water through the filter and in a few minutes all the impurities are removed.

On the other hand, if you want to spend a lot of extra money, you can buy a whole house filter. They're about five or six feet tall (depending on your water filtering needs), and you install them where the water line enters your house. But if you don't want to spend a lot of money, you can just get one of those screw-on filter attachments for your kitchen sink.

Or you can do what I do and just make your own water. Just put two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen in a sealed container, then shake vigorously until you hear the sound of water splashing around inside. It's just as easy as it sounds. It might take a little more effort than buying already-made water, but most things worth doing require a little effort. And the results will be worth it, because you'll end up with some of the freshest water available.

I should probably disclose something here, which is that even though I never buy bottled water, I do buy bottled juices. Fortunately, half the stuff I buy comes in glass containers, but regardless of what the container's made of, you should always read the label. Make sure it's organic and without any added sweeteners, if that's important to you, but more importantly, make sure it's 100% juice, or else you could be buying mostly water without even knowing it.

And this should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway: Don't actually try to make your own water from hydrogen and oxygen using the process I've described above, because it won't work. I don't know what will happen, but I'd be very surprised if you ended up with much water.