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Trash Talk?

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Message Kurt F. Stone
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First, a few facts:

  • Last year, Americans spent more than $15 billion on some 50 billion bottles of water, which works out to 167 single-use bottles for every person in the country.
  • One billion dollars worth of plastic water bottles goes into landfills and litter each year.
  • 30 billion plastic water bottles are thrown away every year. Plastic can take up to a thousand years to disintegrate and make up a big deposit of plastic toxic waste in both the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Making bottles of water out of plastic takes more than 1.5 million barrels of oil, every year. That much oil could fuel 100,000 American cars for a year.
  • 66 million water bottles will go into the garbage or litter today.
  • Aquafina (Pepsi) and Dasani (Coke) sell 24% of all US bottled water. Yet, both are merely treated municipal tap water, resold to the public at a premium mark-up.
  • San Francisco's tap water comes from Yosemite National Park and is so pure the EPA does not require it to be filtered. A bottled of Evian water at $1.35 could be refilled with San Francisco tap water once a day for over ten years before the cost would total $1.35.
  • If tap water cost the same as the cheapest bottled, monthly water bills would come to $9,000.
  • At nearly $4.00 a gallon, gasoline costs 3.1 cents an ounce; at an average of 10 cents an ounce, bottled water goes for nearly $13.00 a gallon.

So what is to be done? Is there a new C.A.N.D.O. project on the horizon? You had better believe it. There are a number of rather simple cost-effective, environmentally responsible things we all can do:

  • Sign the pledge to "Take Back the Tap."
  • Buy a stainless steel or glass thermos and use it.
  • If you don't like the taste -- or worry about the quality -- of your local tap water, purchase an inexpensive carbon filter; it will greatly improve the taste at a fraction of the cost.
  • Encourage your school, place of employment, house of worship, gym -- wherever people gather -- install simple "hydration stations" -- drinking fountains with an extra spigot to make filling a reusable bottle quicker and easier.
  • Purchase a water bottle with its own reusable filtration system -- about $10.00.
  • Familiarize yourself with the facts.

One of the frustrating -- indeed dangerous -- aspects of modern life is how easily immediacy and acquiescence can trump both individual responsibility and collective conscience. Frequently, it seems that all society demands of us is that we be consumers, rather than creators; that we entrust power to the titans, whether or not they have our best interests in mind. We have not been placed on this earth to be its egocentric, despoiling masters but rather its sensitive nurturing stewards. Together -- as a community and as individuals -- there is much we C.A.N.D.O. to re-empower ourselves. Starting with something as wholly basic as the water we drink is a good first step.

And that, is not trash talk . . .

-2012 Kurt F. Stone

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Kurt Stone is a rabbi, writer, lecturer, political activist, professor, actor, and medical ethicist. A true "Hollywood brat" (born and raised in the film industry), Kurt was educated at the University of California, the Eagleton Institute of (more...)
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