From: Alyson Leppla, Earth Science Education, Class of 2015, University of Delaware
Published December 16, 2013 04:10 PM

COLLEGIATE CORNER: Must we drink bottled water?

More than 780 million people lack access to safe drinking water, two and a half times the population of the United States.  More than half of all Americans drink bottled water, yet almost every U.S. household has access to safe drinking water. 

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The United States is the largest consumer of bottled water.  Mothers in the grocery stores buy cases everyday for their children's lunch boxes, college students buy cases to store underneath their beds, and fathers in line at the gas station for a bottle of water are all examples uses of bottled water. When traveling throughout the US no one questions the safety of drinking water.

So, what is wrong with water fountains, the kitchen or bathroom sink taps, or simply reusing plastic water bottles from the collection in the cupboard? Despite the accessibility of safe water we are still the greatest consumers of bottled water with over a dozen brands of water from which to choose including: Dasani, Aquafina, Poland Spring, Deer Park, Evian, and Fiji. 

Has our society defined a social standard based on the brand of water bought?   Is water shipped from far away, like Fiji, better than a generic bottle bought at Walmart? Do we judge those people who drink a certain type of water?  I definitely notice when people drink from what I call "designer" brands of water, especially those who do it every single day. It stands out.  I also notice a completely different person who carries around a banged up, colored, metal, bumper stickered water bottle. 

We seem to develop a social grouping for people solely based upon their endless use and re-use of an old, metal bottle versus the people we see sporting a fresh, new water bottle every single day.  Would a celebrity drink from an old banged up metal bottle?  Would we ever see an environmentalist drink from a plastic designer bottle? The whole concept is mind-boggling. 

At an average of $1.75 per bottle prefer to stick to my old water bottle, which appears to be broken in and stickered up and I will fill it from the bathroom or kitchen sink.   Although not ideal to all, it seems a whole lot better to me than trying to fit in with the newest designer water bottle.    

Water bottle image via Shutterstock.

 This story is part of the Collegiate Corner, a section of ENN dedicated to student work. All work in this column is the product of the student. If you have questions about the Collegiate Corner or would like to submit please contact: rblackstone@enn.com.

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