Friday, March 30, 2012


I remember the first time I saw a person drinking “bottled” water. She was one of the “cool girls” in my daughter’s class in high school, so obviously, drinking bottled water was a cool thing to do.

Cool or not, it seemed weird. She was 10 feet from a concession stand where Coke or other soda pop was being sold and less than 10 feet from a drinking fountain where she could have gulped down as much water as she wanted - for free.

I’ll admit to having taken a drink from “water cooler” bottled water dispensaries a time or two in my past; but doing so was a novelty, having as much to do with using those little cone-shaped cups as really being thirsty. I’d never given thought to why the water coolers were there, other than poor plumbing planning.

When it came to drinking water, I was never picky. The few times I was somewhere with really bad tasting water, I just manned up and downed it - foul flavor or not. Secondly, I was never a “recreational” water drinker. I drank water when I was parched, taking a pill or brushing my teeth. Otherwise, I drank Kool-Aid, soda-pop, beer, coffee, iced tea, milk - whatever. I was also enough of a pragmatist (or so cheap) that the idea of paying for water in a bottle when it flowed freely from taps and drinking fountains was unthinkable.

I just read a news story about a new water controversy. It seems several colleges and universities are now banning bottled water. Drinking bottled water has gone from being the “organic” thing to do - “who knows what’s in the liquid that flows from the tap” - to a very environmentally “insensitive” thing to do.

Not because the water is better or worse. Most places it’s because of the bottles, which are (pick one or more): plastic, made from oil, ends up in landfills, or on beaches or not the best plastic to recycle, causes cancer, chokes billy goats - or pick your own version of horrible.

In other places it’s because water bottling companies are parts of giant, evil corporations. (Like Pepsi Cola Company - which also sells non-banned products in plastic bottles.) In a few places, such as northern Michigan, bottled water is in disfavor because the giant, evil corporations bottle northern Michigan water and send it to “other” places with no access to northern Michigan water.

These universities are now installing extra drinking fountains (better plumbing planning) with special spigots to make filling reusable water bottles easier. Go figure.

We did that when I was a kid in Boy Scouts. We called them canteens. But they weren’t cool.

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