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JUST SAY NO – TO PLASTIC BOTTLES

Just Say No – to Plastic Bottles
(or)
How Nestle Pilfers, Poisons, and Pollutes
our Water, our Earth, and our Selves.

Poor plastic – it has gotten such a bad rap primarily due to the mindless necessity we (humans) have developed to buy and carry a plastic water bottle with us everywhere we go – to have our very own, handy dandy, convenient, light weight, disposable source of water. But wait a minute, you think, didn’t you just write a blog a few weeks ago asking us to drink water, water, water. Yes, I did, but I did not say to carry it around with you in a plastic bottle.

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It isn’t plastic’s fault. It’s our fault. Plastic is practically omnipresent in our life – from medical equipment and car parts, to clothes and cheap toys made in China, to containers for all types of food and drink that we consume every day. If all the plastic disappeared from our lives overnight, our world would look like an enormous hunk of swiss cheese, with huge holes in every aspect of our society, culture, and economy. There is absolutely nothing wrong with plastic – it’s an amazing material in all its forms, and it could be recycled forever, if only we would actually recycle it all!  But because we don’t recycle all those bottles (and everything else), and because the manufacturing process can often be a little lax and sloppy, our overwhelming use and consumption of this pretty handy substance, is polluting and poisoning our environment. (As I write this on a Delta flight from Costa Rica to Hartford, Connecticut, the guy sitting next to me is swigging down a bottle of soda in – you guessed it – a plastic bottle – where will that bottle end up?).

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Additionally, and the point of this blog, is that there are some things that really do not lend themselves to being packaged in plastic. And #1 among those things is water. The problem is that different types of plastic, like polyurethane, polyethelene, polystyrene, and poly vinyl chloride (PVC) for instance, are made with chemicals that can, in a variety of circumstances, leach out into the water (or food) that is packaged in that container. Many of these ingredients (like BPA, or bisphenol A) are not exactly meant to be consumed orally, are highly toxic to our bodies, and contribute in a huge way to pollution of our environment in their manufacturing process (for more detail, watch the documentary Tapped).

When I was growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, we (as Americans) got our water out of the well (if we lived on a ranch in Wyoming) or from the tap if we lived in New Jersey. I remember the NYC tap water, for example, back in the late 60’s when I lived there after college was – we used to brag – “some of the best water in the world”. There was no “bottled water”. What happened?

Around the early 80’s the French shipped us Perrier, in those pretty, green glass bottles and somehow that started the landslide. It’s a bit of a story, but pretty soon, Nestle (as well as Pepsi and Coca Cola) got the bright idea that they could go into places like Freyburg, Maine and Northern Michigan, buy land, and pump water out of the ground (stealing it from the locals), bottle it, and sell it back to us so we could carry it around in plastic bottles. Nestle didn’t pay for the water so they tapped into (uh, sorry!) a pretty good deal.

Soon after Pepsi and Coke, noticing a slight drop in the sale of their products, decided they needed to get into the bottled water business too. So Pepsi came up with Aquafina brand and Coke with Dasani brand. With much media prodding, both Pepsi and Coke eventually admitted that they get their water from municipal sources (the tap), filter it, and then bottle it and sell it back to us in plastic bottles (with pretty pictures on them of mountains and waterfalls). Which wouldn’t be so bad, if they didn’t, in Nestle’s case, steal it, and then bottle it in plastic. And if it weren’t for the fact that we could do that our selves – e.g. get the water out of our tap, filter it if need be, and then put it into a bottle – like stainless steel or glass, just not plastic – at a teeny-weeny fraction of the cost, and then carry it around without the risk of poisoning ourselves!

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On a trip last week (late February 2016) to Costa Rica with about 35 of my yoga students, I showed the documentary I mentioned above, entitled, Tapped, which was made in 2007. I have watched it about 4 or 5 times and it is the enlightening and frightening story of how water in plastic bottles came to be. The main point of the movie is the fact that 1) bottled water is often stolen from locals where it is taken, 2) that it pollutes the environment (because a huge percentage of the bottles in which it is sold do NOT get recycled and end up in the Pacific and on beaches and in streams and rivers all over the world (thanks to the lazy and convenience crazed habits of us humans), and 3) that the manufacturing process, in places like Corpus Christi, Texas poisons the residents.

I could tell you more but hopefully, I have whetted your curiosity enough so that you will watch this extraordinary and important documentary. Get TAPPED – WATCH IT, and most importantly, DON’T BUY BOTTLED WATER.  Municipal water is one of the most frequently tested and highly regulated products in the world, particularly in the USA and until recently in a few places like Flint, Michigan, is a thousand times safer than bottled water.   But if for some reason, your municipal water is funky or has too much chlorine, depending on what is wrong with it, you can most likely simply filter it to make it safe and delicious. Put in a system under the sink, or at the source, or get a Britta, or something like that – they all work just fine. But please, ditch the plastic bottles. Oh, and don’t support Nestle. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but Nestle owns Perrier, Poland Spring, and Pelligrino waters (No!!! Yes, true!!), along with about 67 other different water brands. And don’t forget the Nestle chocolate chips!! An institution you thought! Yeah, me too! But I haven’t bought a package of Nestle chocolate chips since I saw the movie 4 years ago. Put your foot down – put your money where your mouth is.

Oh and do stay hydrated!