Monday, May 19, 2008

Ain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do

Lucky readers! Here's a post almost as exciting as watching water boil.

A current bandwagon onto which plenty of cartoonists and news sources seem to be jumping is that of mocking bottled water buyers : "Why, bottled water is nothing but tap water sold at ridiculous prices to idiots!"

On the left you see the end product of 2 liters of my local tap water boiled down to half a cup.

On the right is 2 liters of the much-maligned Aquafina [TM], boiled down to, actually, less than one-half a cup. PLEASE NOTE: I tried to to catch the pot and remove it from the heat at the exact same point for each type of water -- that is, I tried to distill each to precisely one half a cup -- but waited a minute or so too long.
Yet it only proved my point better. The Aquafina is more concentrated, and yet still much clearer than the tap water.

My point is not to claim that the cloudy ingredients in the tap water are toxic. I have no idea what they consist of. There is no need whatsoever to condescendingly inform me that H2O containing NO dissolved matter is virtually nonexistent, that My Government Cares About Me, and that "simple minerals" are harmless and nothing to worry my pretty-old little head over.

I don't claim otherwise.
Another concession: The bottled water industry is self regulated, while municipal water plants have to meet government standards! Yippee. Well, anyway, no argument there either.

Nor do I claim that the environmental toll exacted by the process and by the plastic bottles is worthwhile. I don't know. To determine that would require more than just the hard figures of environmental cost. It would require an equally hard set of figures as to the benefits of drinking the bottled stuff.

Those figures don't exist. They probably cannot exist because :

1. health impact caused by gradual exposure and by delayed effects is hard to quantify;

2. the water in each service area differs, both in processing technology used, and in the stuff the raw product contains;

3. health effects also differ from person to person. Those seriously troubled by kidney stones, for example, need to avoid many dissolved minerals that are harmless to most.

My one and only point is that "purified" water is not "just" tap water. The price I choose to pay for a bottle of Aquafina is for the purification process, not for its source water.
However mentally challenged we may be, this concept is simple enough that most buyers do kind of grasp it in our slackjawed way.

That means the pundits probably know it too. This is what bothers me. There are honest arguments with which to criticize bottled water. But the cute images of a tap directly filling a name-brand water bottle are dishonest arguments and insult my intelligence.

Meanwhile, I dislike the taste and smell of my local water. I do not entirely believe in the healthiness of this yellowish muck in it. I am sure it meets government standards but I have long taken government standards with a grain of sodium chloride, as being based on acceptable risk weighed against unavoidable budget limitations. They define "acceptable." I don't get to.

I'll keep buying it and taking the bottles to the recycling center. That'll have to do.
If I need it, here's my disclaimer: I have no financial, nor any other, tie -- political, business, family, NUTHIN' -- to any product, company, or agency mentioned in this post. It is purely my opinion, and is strictly about my personal observations and preferences.


Sherwood Harrington said...

Diane drinks bottled water. I do not. When I'm feeling particularly brave, I will taunt her about it with about the same level of sophistication you expose here, such as "You do know what Evian is backward, don't you?"

Nice work, Ruth. I will not be showing this post to Diane.

Mike said...

I live about 30 miles from a spring which is not Poland Spring but which they own. (Poland Spring is about 60 miles the other direction.) The water comes out of the ground and really, really is spring water with nothing added, not tap water with stuff taken out. People who live at the ends of long rivers really shouldn't need analysts to explain this -- The difference between city water and spring water or even purified water is like the difference between instant and brewed coffee. But maybe you need to drink the clean stuff regularly in order to be able to detect the downriver taste -- fresh palate and all that.

Dann said...

Holy smokes, Ruth! With thinking like that, you could be a Republican! Or worse yet....a Libertarian!!!