Why Not To Drink Bottled Water

A couple months ago, Sara wrote a great post about water privatization, and it got me thinking more about bottled water.

You see, a few weeks ago, my friends and I took a trip to Istanbul for a few days. While we were there, we were advised not to drink the tap water, and instead to stick to the bottled water.

As much as buying bottle after bottle of water hurt, the ethical consumer gritted her teeth and stuck to the bottle. After all, I was only in Istanbul for a weekend, I told myself. It wasn't worth getting sick.

Now if you've ever been to Istanbul, you would see that it's an incredibly modern and clean city. In fact, the streets seem cleaner than many other European cities I've been to. So why doesn't Istanbul have drinkable tap water?

Well, I don't know the answer for sure, but I can tell you this. In Istanbul, many of the Turkish people we met told us that they always drank bottled water. It seems that in Turkey, those who can afford to, simply don't drink tap. Which means that the government has less incentive to clean up the drinking supply. Which means that the only people left drinking the unclean water are the poor who can't afford bottled water, and have very little power to demand change from the government.

This is a sad story that has been oft-repeated in country after country after country. And, it could be our destiny in Western Europe and the United States. If we drink bottled water instead of tap water, if we buy into these myths that tap water is unclean, we could find ourselves stuck with highly expensive privatized tap water.

That's why, when I'm at home, I drink water straight from the tap. It's not just about the plastic water bottles, and the waste issue, though those issues are important. It's about protecting our right to water.

Protect your right to water. Drink tap.