52 Movies: Week 25 - Jean de Florette
Ashley Cleveland: Samson and Delilah

Us And Our Bottled Water

I found this fascinating: the story of the growth of the bottled water industry, and the advertising that made it happen

This is an interesting case. I don't think advertising can make people buy something for which they don't feel a real need or  which isn't so rewarding in some way that people come to see it as a need, and which doesn't to some degree provide what it purports to provide. At least not over a period of years--little bubbles of basically nonsensical enthusiasm--fads--can probably be generated with little more than clever marketing. But bottled water seems to be somewhere between those. I suspect that most people who habitually drink bottled water have a vague idea that it's healthier than tap water, but as the article says for most people this is not true. So apparently it is satisfying a need that is either based on misinformation, uncorrected for decades now, or is just some purely emotional but nevertheless persistent phenomenon.

Not unrelated: 22 cheery facts about discarded plastic, of which water and soft drink bottles no doubt constitute a large portion.


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I'll pick up a bottle at the convenience store while walking home. It's a substitute for juice or soda pop. Convenient, cold, and lacking in the sulphur or the metallic taste or the chlorine taste of the tap water some places I've lived. The alternative would be lugging a thermos, and that might be an alternative if my dehydration were not so irregular.

I imagine Flint, Michigan was good for the bottled water business.

I picked up a couple of bottles when I was walking with the friars last week, and I keep a case at home in the winter when freezing weather might lead to no electricity and, therefore, no water. Other than that I rarely drink bottled water. I'm glad it's there when I need it, but business like mine sure wouldn't keep them in business. I always thought it was crazy to buy water, but then we live in a place with great water. If I lived in Steubenville, OH, for instance, I might think differently.


Oh sure, there are good reasons to buy it occasionally. I did yesterday, as a matter of fact. Stopped on a long drive to get gas and was thirsty and didn't want anything sweet or caffeinated. But the vast quantities bought in the US are at best a funny thing and worst a big problem because of those zillions of plastic bottles.

Right. That plastic thing gets to me though. How many hundreds of disposable pens and razors have I had over the past 10 years?


Like Art and Janet, I buy it only occasionally. Our local water doesn't taste very good, but I have a filter pitcher that I use that solves the problem.

I am conscious of the plastic issue, but as I very seldom buy either water or soft drinks, that doesn't really figure into my decision.

But the vast quantities bought in the US are at best a funny thing and worst a big problem because of those zillions of plastic bottles.

Haven't lived anywhere without recycling in 25 years.

Here is a report on how much actually gets recycled and how much winds up in landfills.

And that's only the stuff that people actually put into recycling bins. How much just gets thrown into the ordinary trash, or tossed into the street?

I guess the basic problem leading to those trash islands in the ocean is not the disposable nature of the containers as such so much as the street-tossers. There is a huge problem here with plastic and other trash going into the storm sewers and from there into streams, rivers, and Mobile Bay. Mountains of it. Obviously a large number of people just don't give a damn.

We have recycling here and I'm pretty careful about it. I always wonder if it really makes much difference, though.

The first time I bought bottled water in place of tap water was after I had an impacted kidney stone that involved a week in the hospital before removal (I'd just had a baby, so they were being extra-careful with things). The dr. told me to drink distilled water for a goodish bit to make sure there was no recurrence.

Now, we drink bottled water because the tap water in municipal Fort Worth tastes so terrible that even when you filter it, it's just awful--the smell, the taste, the "chunkiness" (for want of a better word) etc. If you can afford one of those really expensive whole-house filtration systems it's just barely tolerable, but you're probably going to choose something else to drink anyway.

It's also really high in mineral content, which is not good for people with certain health issues (such as that propensity to kidney stones).

We are strict about recycling the bottles--recycled plastic actually does have lots of uses if the recycling is done correctly.

All those plastic bags up in the trees.

I seem to remember something awhile back about bio- or photo-degradable plastic bags. Nothing lately though.

They have managed to come up with biodegradable shipping peanuts, although I'm not sure how big of a problem they were to begin with.

Once I got some biodegradable diapers--obviously it's been a while--and when I saw what you had to do with them so that they would degrade (don't remember what know), I said, "Forget it." A lot of biodegradable stuff won't degrade in a landfill.

"biodegradable shipping peanuts"

Some people use popcorn, but I'm sure that must lead to a problem with rodents and insects. I'm wondering if anything truly biodegradable would have that problem.



When we first moved here, I was amazed that almost every hedgerow was full of WalMart bags. Sitting here now, though, it seems to me as if I don't see that so much anymore. I wonder if it's still there and I've just grown so used to it that I don't see it, or whether they really aren't there.

The ditches are full of cups and bottles and other junk.


Biodegradable shipping peanuts are fun. When you get them wet they turn to mush and then dissolve completely. Into what I don't know. Presumably not a toxin.

On Government Blvd and a few other streets in Mobile one often sees strings of shiny plastic beads in the trees.

Erin, having to buy bottled water for all your drinking and I assume also cooking must run into significant expense, not to mention hassle. Lot of water to be toting from the grocery store.

Seems like bottled water in gallon or so sizes was available in grocery stores before it became such a popular thing.

And while we're at it, our (Americans') consumption of soft drinks always seems a bit odd to me, too. I like them occasionally but am puzzled by people who drink three or four a day. Seems like that would have to be bad for you. And then there are those enormous cups people buy at convenience stores.

The bottled water in gallons is distilled for pressing irons. We still buy it.

Yes, I buy that, too (for my LP-cleaning gizmo). But here at least there's also non-distilled. Maybe that's a local thing. People clear it off the shelves in a few hours when there's a hurricane coming.

We buy that for our CPAP machines. They sell a lot of the non-distilled during the tornado season, and I keep it in winter when I think we might lose the well.


Obviously a large number of people just don't give a damn.

No, a small number of people don't give a damn. If a large number of people didn't, you'd be ankle deep in trash everywhere.

If I'm to judge by the places I've lived, the world is tidier than it was in 1970 and the air cleaner. My mother spent 7 years as a child in a rented house heated by coal in a furnace her father would stoke in the middle of the night. They never could kill off the rats. You didn't see much of them, but you could hear them scurrying up and down underneath the walls. By the standards of that day, my grandparents were living a congenial suburban life apposite for educated people such as themselves, though with debts leftover from the Depression they were paying off in increments.

My mother would tell you that her children had never known friendship as they had had it in that subdivision. Things get easier, and, in some ways harder.

Around here you can buy a gallon of spring water, distilled water, or purified drinking water for $1.00.

Here in Pittsburgh the air and water are definitely cleaner than they were in the 70's, but the amount of litter doesn't seem to to have gone down much, esp. on the roadsides.

And then there's the special water for two liters of which I just paid $4.50. It's called club soda.

I think there's less roadside litter here than there used to be. Air is definitely cleaner, because there is no longer a paper mill here. Air in Birmingham is definitely cleaner, because the steel industry is no more. These are the trade-offs of losing those industries.

"No, a small number of people don't give a damn."

Yeah, I guess you're right. And regarding the rest of what you said: also yeah, and this is what seems to me so difficult in assessing the whole income inequality, we're getting poorer question. There is most certainly less poverty, and less severe poverty, here in the South than when I was growing up in the 1950s and '60s. One may ask whether dirt-poor in the country was really worse than somewhat less poor in a poverty-stricken and dangerous neighborhood in the city, but the material improvement is pretty hard to deny. In a lot of industrial areas there has been a falling-off since the '60s, but if you measure against any time before WWII how does it look?

And my mother says something similar about the human relationships in her small southern town in the '30s and '40s.

I occasionally buy Bottled Water for the reason Art D. gave - it is more convenient than carrying around a thermos flask. Now I have a dog in a hot city, that is a strong example, because I think about whether to fill the thermos with water when we go out for a walk - and its just so heavy!

Usually in the past, in my pre-Dog life, I would buy a bottle of water for the gym and use it and re-fill it until I lost or mislaid it.

But there is another thing which no one has yet mentioned. We are told all the time that water is good for us and we must drink seven cups of it a day. But as my mother used to complain, the taste of water is so boring! And coming out of the tank, there is an endless supply of it. So there's no achievement in drinking it. One way to make drinking water less boring, and to turn it into a quantifiable achievement, is to buy a bottle of water and drink it. Because you then have a quantifiable achievement behind you. You have drunk a specific quantity of water this day. Good boy! Good girl!

All these people buying bottled water are religious and not spiritual if only they knew it.

I meant coming out of the tap

You aren't supposed to drink 7 glasses (8 in my version) a day. You are supposed to consume the equivalent of 8 glasses a day--including what is in your food. My solution: eat a lot of watermelon.

Very sensible. I had considered making sport of the "stay hydrated" obsession along with the bottled water obsession but refrained. You're right, Grumpy, it is a kind of weird spiritual discipline.

Oh, what I wouldn't give for an ice cold watermelon right now.

Well, I wouldn't give a 40 mile round trip in this awful heat, so I guess I'll have to do without today.


I cannot begin to tell you how much I do not want to finish my Saints post for today.


Reading about this reminded me that it's become harder and harder to find a drinking fountain these days. There must be some connection to the bottled water thing.

Also, carrying just the right bottled water is a fashion statement for some, maybe a lot, of people.

I've noticed that about drinking fountains, too, and wondered the same thing.

I laugh at the commercials that try to associate a particular brand of bottled water with youth or beauty or wealth. Or sex, like the commercials embedded in that article I linked to.

Well, I did it.


So I see. But St Gerard's final illness was surely not in 1955, was it?


Well, that's fixed. I'm so stupid. I should have just fixed it and said I didn't know what you were talking about.


I would've known. I looked at it very carefully to make sure I hadn't read it wrong.

But other people wouldn't have, of course.

That's the point.


And besides, your eyes are really old.


That's the truth.

"All these people buying bottled water are religious and not spiritual if only they knew it."


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