Monthly Archives: January 2009

Bottled water vs. tap

Bottled water has been a hot topic in the news lately, in part due to a report by the Environmental Working Group disclosing that the 10 best-selling brands of bottled water contain contaminants similar to those allowed in tap water.

This is not altogether shocking when you consider that in some cases, the tap water comes from the same source as the bottled watered. What was more of a surprise to me was learning that bottled water is not closely regulated and is not required to undergo testing as often or as thoroughly as municipal water systems.

This could be because bottled water is regulated as a food under the jurisdiction of the FDA, while municipal water is overseen by the EPA. As long as the bottle contains a “label of substandard quality” the contaminants are allowed, water can be treated with antimicrobial agents, and companies can continue using advertising that conveys a misleading level of purity.

According to WebMD,”Americans drank 9 billion gallons of bottled water in 2007, or slightly more than 29 gallons for every man, woman, and child in the country. They also shelled out $22 billion on a product that critics of the bottled water industry say they should be getting for free from their home faucets.”

We’d been wanting to get a water filter for our house for a long time, to make use of the existing tap water but improve on its taste and chemical makeup. We finally settled on an Aquasana, one of the lower priced under-counter models. While filters will be an ongoing expense, it’s a bargain compared to the estimated 1900% markup on bottled water. Factor in the environmental impact created by plastic containers and product shipping, and it should be easy to make a case for dumping the water bottle in almost any scenario.

Plastic + Giant Microwave = Oil!

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything to the blog, but not for lack of inspiration. I need to let go of my perfectionist tendencies and just post things, even if they’re not impeccably polished. So, in that vein, I bring you my latest post.

Sometimes I feel I’m going overboard, being cautious about potential things that could harm our family, things that many people don’t give a second thought. Once example is heating food in the microwave in plastic containers.

While all my coworkers heat their frozen diet meals in little plastic trays, I’m forever dumping my leftovers onto paper plates or into ceramic containers to heat or using the toaster oven to avoid the microwave all together. (After all, even if the chemicals migrating into the food aren’t harmful, microwaves do alter the nutritional content of the food and emit radiation.)

Occasionally somthing will arise that makes my confidence in a decision grow. This time that boost came in the form of a news story, old but only recently brought to my attention, showing how a U.S. company is using a large microwave to recycle plastic, turning it back into oil. Obviously this would be great from an environmental perspective, but yikes! I realize that most everyday microwaves can’t perform such a feat, but that it can be done at all says a lot both about both the cooking method and the composition of the container.

To add to the argument, recent tests show that many so called “microwave safe” plastics still leach BPA into food. So while going for the safer plastics with recycling codes 1, 2, 4 and 5 and only those labeled for microwave use can certainly help, the best option really is not to use plastic containers.