This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

July-August 2008

7 environmentally friendly moves to quit the bottled water habit

Melissa WilsonWebsite

Bottled Water. Photo by iStockPhoto/Marie-France BélangerIn 2006, Canadians spent $731 million consuming 2.1 billion litres of bottled water, with most of those plastic bottles ending up in landfills. If you’re tired of slowly destroying the planet while building the bank accounts of companies like Coca-Cola and Nestlé, here are a few tips for going back to the tap.

1. Create your own “pure” water by investing in an at-home water filtration system. Get a water-quality report from your municipality to see if there are any contaminants you need to be aware of (usually only an issue in rural settings) and to find out whether you need a point-of-entry unit that will filter all water before it’s distributed through your house, or a smaller unit that treats water once it’s out of the faucet.

2. Pick up a stainless-steel water bottle to carry that tap water in. With the safety of reusable plastic bottles in question for containing bisphenol A (BPA), a suspected hormone disruptor and carcinogen, it’s time to ditch that “indestructible” Nalgene bottle in favour of a shiny, metal version. Bring it everywhere.

3. Pass on overpriced bottled water when you’re out to eat and request a glass of free ice water instead. No need to be afraid: Canadian tap water is more rigorously screened than the bottled stuff.

4. Lobby to make tap water more convenient. Contact your city council and ask to have more drinking fountains and water spigots installed around town.

5. Create a bottled-water-free bubble at your school or office. On World Water Day in March, 2008, the Polaris Institute launched a campaign to discourage bottled water use on Canadian campuses in an attempt to reject the commodification of one of the world’s most precious resources. Visit for more details and talk to your powers above to create your own tap-water-only zone.

6. Donate your autograph to the cause. Head over to and sign a petition asking the United Nations to declare access to potable water a human right.

7. Do the math. A litre of tap water in most Canadian municipalities costs less than a tenth of a cent, whereas a litre of bottled water can cost $1 or more. The switch should be a no-brainer.

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