The Ethics of Bottled Water

In today's New York Times.

Not to jump on Standage's bandwagon, but this is something that I've wondered about. I remember as a child in the 80s, with my well-worn copy of 50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth in hand, watching as environmental activists challenged McDonald's on its styrofoam packinging, for instance, or other corporations on the amount of non-biodegradable plastics they were distributing. But as time went on -- and particularly as I found myself in university dining settings -- the amount of plastic cutlery, plates, etc., seemed to grow, rather than shrink. Standage seems rather concerned about the luxury of northern use of water, but it doesn't seem all that likely that northerners discontinuing their drinking of bottled water is going to stimulate the purification of tap water in the south for which he calls. But the environmental consequences of those hundreds of bottles most of us go through each year, to which he makes a glancing reference, have the potential to do a lot more damage to the next generation.

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