My “Bottled Water”
Back in 2003, I remember being a house guest to a gracious host. He had some other guests over and one asked “is the water safe to drink?” This was a local yuppie asking about the tap water in Oakland, CA. The Bay Area has some of the best tap water in the nation. Even so, I had to resist the urge to point out that when I was in France I had treated a bout of homesickness by skimming the “Lonely Planet USA” guidebook, which explained that, in fact, tap water in the United States is safe to drink in 99.9% of localities, and that anywhere that the water isn’t safe to drink there will be plenty of warning signs: it is reasonable to assume that any American tap water is “safe”.
A few years later, my then-wife and I were guests at my Boss’ house, and dinner was served. Bottled water was made available at each place setting–nothing fancy, just standard, probably-from-Costco bottled water. In Washington, DC. I rationalized that the Boss’ wife is from India, where serving a meal with bottled water could merely be customary. No need to make an ass of myself by offering my own cultural critique of the Boss’ family’s hospitality.
I read that San Francisco recently enacted a ban on spending any further money for bottled water by city departments–currently the city spends $500,000/year on bottled water. This figure seems excessive and wasteful, but then, I read that Muni was a big spender, and I figured those guys out in the street or running vehicles don’t have easy access to tap water. It needn’t be trucked in from somewhere else–just, you know, water-in-a-bottle can be convenient, when you’re not near a tap . . .
I don’t know that you can buy municipal tap water in San Francisco or if you’ll have to bottle your own. I have a feeling that the ban will result in an increase in purchases of bottled soda and other beverages, for those cases where it isn’t a question of bottled versus tap water, but beverage-in-a-bottle versus access-to-a-tap.
For me, the most valuable aspect of bottled water is the water bottles, which can be refilled and reused to deliver fresh, delicious tap water whenever you like. These bottles are rugged and last for years of normal use.
My favorite is the “New Zealand Eternal”–I snagged this during a job interview. On the one hand, bottling water in New Zealand and transporting it to North America is–frankly–immoral. On the other hand, since it is so flamboyantly wrong, they supply the nicest bottle!
The “Tropicana” bottle is pretty rugged and has a nice, wide mouth. There is also no ambiguity–if you see me drinking water from a Tropicana bottle then its pretty clear this is some home-refill job, and I’m not some asshole who has to maintain the purity of his bodily fluids by importing water from New Zealand!