The Green Scene “December”
Wow! What Did We Do Before Bottled Water????
Does my timing to Florida as my permanent residence correspond to the introduction of bottled water into our society or are Floridians just more prone to littering than Kansans? I can’t believe the amount of litter I see along the roadways in some parts of the Panhandle. I have been outspoken enough about my feelings that I was named to work on a Wakulla County Commissioners’ committee to suggest ways of changing the habits of many as it concerns littering. I continue to be surprised at people’s willingness to litter and much of what I see includes plastic water bottles.
It makes me wonder what we did before we had them and why are we so inclined to buy our water instead of drinking tap water? UF/IFAS Food and Nutrition Specialist, Dr. Karla Shelnutt and an UF Intern recently published a new bulletin called “Facts about Bottled Water” (FCS 8887) that addresses this issue. You may wish to request a copy from your County Extension Office or go to Solutions For Your Life to have immediate access.
Today I want to focus on why we need to drink lots of fluids, choosing beverages that are best suited for our body and how we seem to “miss the mark” when making environmentally-friendly water choices. Do you realize that about 60% of your body weight is comprised of water? We get about 20% of the needed water from the foods we eat and the remainder must come from beverages. One of the best sources is WATER.
Dr. Shelnutt’s research reveals that half of all Americans now consume bottled water regularly. As the popularity of it increased, so have the questions about its safety. Dr. Shelnutt answers many safety questions in the referenced UF/IFAS publication. I particularly appreciate the inclusion of some of the popular myths that she addresses. She calls this section of her article, Don’t Drown in the Myths. For example…
- MYTH: All bottled water comes from a natural spring.
- FACT: About 25% of all bottled water is taken from city water sources and then purified multiple times. If the bottled water comes from a city source it must be stated on the label unless it has been further purified; in this case the label will say purified water.
- MYTH: Bottled water is cleaner and more pure than tap water.
- FACT: As long as both the city water and the bottled water are following regulations, bottled water is no safer than tap water. Tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The Agency creates guidelines for what can be in the water and have high standards that must be met. Bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, which has guidelines that are not as strict as the EPA guidelines for tap water. Neither is required to be 100% free of contaminants. I encourage you to get this publication to dispel more water-related myths.
According to Dr. Shelnutt, more than 80% of Americans have access to a plastic recycling center. My advice is to USE IT. Recycling reduces the waste that litters highways and waterways. It also allows the material to be used for things such as toys, sleeping bags, and other goods. According to the Container Recycling Institute, about 86% of the 30 billion disposable water bottles sold each year are thrown in the trash and not recycled.
Most disposable water bottles are considered one-time use bottles. Take the plunge and buy one of the many reusable water bottles available for purchase. Make sure, when purchasing, you buy bottles that are labeled bisphenol A-free (BPA-free). The materials from which these bottles are made are listed on the bottom of the bottle.
In summary, my advice is to drink appropriate beverages frequently and be aware that water is the most important of all nutrients in the body. In addition, act responsibly. When you purchase beverages in disposable containers, recycle them!!! Let’s be proud of the roads and waterways as we travel and enjoy the sites in Wakulla County!!!
For more information on BPA free materials, visit the Wakulla County Extension website (http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/wakullaco/) or call Shelley Swenson at 850-926-3931.