March 17 2008

Bottled Water Gets the Boot

On March 13, 2008, the mayor of Seattle signed executive order #02-08, banning the use of city funds to pay for bottled water. Seattle wasn't the first to ban the bottle either: San Francisco, Los Angeles and Ann Arbor have all restricted city spending on bottled water. Numerous other cities, such as Boston, Salt Lake City, Louisville and Chicago are considering similar or related restrictions.

But why?

The issue percolated to the surface here at Greenline a year or so ago when NPR ran a story on Chez Panisse, the famed Berkeley, California restaurant, and its decision to eliminate bottled water from its menu. The restaurant had long sought out local ingredients and supported organic farming processes. Their thoughts turned to how they were quenching their customer's thirst. While imported water has long been standard fare in upscale dining establishments, the ownership at Chez Panisse began to contemplate the resources required to harvest water from an Italian spring, produce thousands and thousands of glass or plastic bottles and ship tons of liquid thousands of miles to California. The alternative production method, simple filtration equipment attached to the municipal water supply, seemed to fit in better with the environmental bent of the restaurant. They switched over and never looked back. (Head to to listen to the story.)

Very similar thinking about custom bottled water has prompted the municipal switches to the tap. While perhaps the water at Seattle and Los Angeles city council meetings wasn't French or Italian, it still did require production of all those plastic bottles, a truck to get them to a distributor, another truck to get them to the municipal building and yet another to get them to the recycling plant or worse yet, the landfill.

bottled water on way to landfill

There is cost to consider too. Last year the City of Seattle spent $58,000 on bottled water or nearly $8 per gallon. That's 2400 times the cost of tap water!

Tom Standage, in his 2005 New York Times editorial, makes the further link that the money spent in the developed world on bottled water (where municipal drinking water is consistently available and safe) could easily pay to provide safe water supplies to the billions around the world who are making do without. While the logic of the argument is perhaps a bit tenuous, it's certainly enough to get you thinking the next time you order that bottle of Perrier or pick up that case of Poland Spring.

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March 20th, 2008 at 8:54 AM

Seattle kieltää kieltää pullotetun veden ostamisen kaupungin rahoilla - - Uutisia tekniikasta, ilmiöistä ja hilavitkuttimista

[...] Lähde: [...]

March 20th, 2008 at 7:14 PM


Perhaps Seattle water is better than the water in neighboring cities. I have to ask myself, though, why people CHOOSE to pay for water when they can get it from the tap. Could it be that it doesn't taste good? Sometimes doesn't even SMELL good? I live in a neighboring city and I don't even give my pets tap water. No, I'm not a spoiled, effete snob that has to look good with one of those pricy bottles of water. I drink bottled water for the same reason the people of New Orleans had to drink bottled water - they didn't have access to trustworthy tap water.

March 20th, 2008 at 8:06 PM

Natura Water - Water News

[...] According to the city’s press release, “The mayor?s order — which applies only to city departments — is the first step in an effort to promote Seattle?s water and get people to consider kicking the bottle habit.” What else does the Emerald City have up her sleeve? Grab a glass of tap water, take a sip and stay tuned for more. ::City of Seattle and ::Seattle Times via ::Greenline [...]

March 23rd, 2008 at 1:08 AM

City of Seattle Gives Bottled Water the Boot — BeGreen NEWSlog

[...] of tap water, take a sip and stay tuned for more. ::City of Seattleand ::Seattle Times via ::GreenlineSee also: ::A World of Reasons to Ditch Bottled Water, ::Drugs Are In Our Water! Should I Switch [...]

February 2nd, 2009 at 11:51 PM

SLC Architects

What a touchy subject here I wouldn't drink tap water if i worked at a government building or anywhere else.