According to recent data, the increase in the US bottled water market is expected to be smaller this decade. On university campuses across the continent, student movements are encouraging administrations to stop stocking bottled water in vending machines and canteens, and are promoting reusable water bottles stamped with college logos.
Cities, too, are joining the battle to reduce plastic waste and cut carbon footprints. In 2009, the Australian town of Bundaboon banned bottled water completely, and in the same year the city of Paris installed a public drinking fountain at Jardin de Reuilly, flowing with both still and sparkling water. In London, the Find-a-Fountain campaign offers an online map enabling people to find public sources of free, clean drinking water (www.findafountain.org), while the majority of US mayors have voted to phase out bottled water from local-government offices.
Ultimately, the bottled water habit comes down to us. We convinced ourselves that we need it; now we must train ourselves out of our dependence. Part of the solution is investment in water and sanitation infrastructure, but, even more importantly, consumer trust in the goodness of what flows from the tap has to be built.
Remember, choose tap water whenever possible. It’s a simple, cost-effective way of reducing your carbon footprint and playing your part in encouraging sustainability.