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Charles Fishman: Bottled Water is Bad; Banning it May Be Worse
Water | February 24, 2012

Charles Fishman: Bottled Water is Bad; Banning it May Be Worse

Charles Fishman is now blogging about water for National Geographic--a move that makes perfect sense, given that his book The Big Thirst, just out in paperback, is the bestselling American book on water in the last twenty-five years. One of Fishman’s first blog posts exposes the hypocrisy behind banning bottled water on college campuses. While bottled water is environmentally ruinous, banning it, while doing nothing about other packaged products such as cookies and juice, doesn't make much sense:

The water in a half-liter bottle typically costs 3,000 times what the same amount of water from a spigot costs. Buy a single bottle of Poland Spring for $1.29 at the college store, and you can refill the bottle every day for 8 years — college plus medical school! — before the tap water costs what the original Poland Spring cost.

The very university food service systems that proudly announce bottled water bans offer products with at least as much environmental impact that also have all kinds of dietary impact. Froot Loops at breakfast? Chocolate chip cookies at dinner? Frozen yogurt on tap 16 hours a day?

Bottled water bans are not just oddly hypocritical—taking bottled water out of campus vending machines while leaving soda in those machines — they seem oddly misplaced in a setting where people are supposed to be thinking for themselves.
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