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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Free Filtered Water For Reusable Bottle Users - The Trend Grows



Free Filtered water station photo

Photo A. Streeter via flickr and Creative Commons.

Certain places hold us captive to buying bottled water - which if you've seen the documentary Tapped you'll likely not want to do. Airports are generally the worst - if you unthinkingly purchase bottles in the terminal before passing through security, your very expensive water will basically go staight into the trash. Adding a reusable bottle to the things we all cart around sometimes feels like a drag, but hopefully a new trend makes schlepping the reusable Kleen Kanteen or other stainless or glass bottle much more rewarding.

The Chicago Department of Aviation has installed filtered water stations especially designed for reusable bottles at both O'Hare (Terminal 2) and Chicago Midway airports. Not only is this a boon to those of us with reusable bottles and a real aversion to buying bottled water. It's also saving CO2 emissions. Yes, a drop in the proverbial bucket, but a start in turning back the massive tide of bottled water that is so damaging to our environment and so unnecessary.

At both the airports, there's a Liquid Disposal Station before security lines, and refill stations are located right next to the regular drinking fountains (a big plus, as it is quite difficult to refill bottles at the regular fountains).

You simply set your bottle onto the station's metal tray and refill happens hands free.

The Dept. of Aviation estimates the water stations, installed after Earth Day 2010, will save approximately 17,000 pounds of greenhouse gases from being emitted, and 29 fewer tons of trash from going to landfill annually.

In San Francisco, Virgin Airways is sponsoring a similar filtered water refill station.

Washingtonians are also lucky - the TapIt initiative means there are more than 60 spots in the city, (participating businesses) that will allow you to fill your reusable bottle for free.

Reviewing some of the highlights from the documentary for your water edification:

- A large amount of the water you are buying in bottled water comes from the same sources as tap water.

- Bottled water is more than a $10 billion annual business, with the biggest corporate players being Coca-Cola, Pepsico, and Nestle.

- Approximately 18 million barrels of oil are used each year to transport water for bottled water consumption.

-Eliminating or minimizing bottled water usage would be a huge boon for the ocean where lots of plastic ends up circling endlessly in loops like the Pacific Gyre.

-Storing water in plastic is a very risky business, as toxic chemicals have been shown to leach from the plastic in to the water, especially over time (including bisphenol-A).

And, most relevant for consumers, bottled water costs from 240 to over 10,000 times more per gallon to purchase than tap water (NRDC source).