Mixed Greens Blog

Mixed Greens Blog
Living Sustainably in the Pacific Northwest


In Hot Water Over A Drink of Water

We’ve been condemned for our over consumption of just about everything on the planet, now it’s bottled water. Like cell phones, bottled water came out of the blue a decade or so ago and once again we’ve been snookered into a product that we probably don’t need. Cell phones are another matter.

From the Natural Resources Defense Council: Bottled Water
“How does drinking bottled water affect the environment? In 2006, the equivalent of 2 billion half-liter bottles of water were shipped to U.S. ports, creating thousands of tons of global warming pollution and other air pollution. In New York City alone, the transportation of bottled water from western Europe released an estimated 3,800 tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere. In California, 18 million gallons of bottled water were shipped in from Fiji in 2006, producing about 2,500 tons of global warming pollution. And while the bottles come from far away, most of them end up close to home — in a landfill. Most bottled water comes in recyclable PET plastic bottles, but only about 13 percent of the bottles we use get recycled. In 2005, 2 million tons of plastic water bottles ended up clogging landfills instead of getting recycled.”

The outlandish part is that what’s pouring out of our faucets is generally superior or equivalent to water that comes in a plastic bottle, and it comes through a fairly energy efficient infrastructure. Whereas the shipping of bottled water around the world generates a huge carbon footprint for those few convenient sips. Some businesses now offer a bottle of water as a courtesy to customers, a kind gesture which I decline on a regular basis.

Turn on the faucet and there are ways to filter it if you must. Generally, Washington state has good water, but when I could smell chlorine in our water a few years ago, for me it was time to make a move. We converted to a large Brita filtered pitcher for our drinking water. Still wasteful since filters have to be replaced every few months and all that packaging is a nuisance. The on-faucet filters must be the best deal in terms of sustainability and we’re going there next. Truthfully, I now question all of the filtering gizmos (more marketing?). I could lighten up, live dangerously and drink water straight from the tap – what a concept.

water-drinks-1 water-drinks-2
How to escape the bottled water debacle? One possibility is to turn on the tap and brew lightly flavored and refreshing drinks on the kitchen counter that are superior to anything bottled in terms of cost, taste and waste. Jerry Traunfeld tweaked my imagination with herbal infusions, tisanes, in his Herbfarm Cookbook. Herbal lemonade was described in a previous post, Summertime Sippin’ with Herbs. The sky’s the limit with these infusions, they’re fast, can be made in large quantities and used for days. Dream something up and get brewing.

A Recipe for Herb-Infused Refreshments, Tisanes

Thank you Jerry Traunfeld.

Rosemary, lemon balm, mint, lavender (just bloomed), anise hyssop are in the garden so I picked a bunch and made a couple of batches of cold and frosty herbal beverages.

Directions for an herbal drink of water: About two cups of herbs – a mix of mint, anise hyssop and lemon balm – into a large pitcher/ Add boiling water, a couple of cups, stir and let it sit for fifteen minutes/ Remove the spent herbs, add more water, another handful of fresh herbs and some ice.

The other version is a mix of 1/2 C lavender and 1/2 C rosemary in 2 C boiling water, a tablespoon of honey and a small piece of lemon, any citrus would work, and squeeze it thoroughly before removing/ Let steep together for 20 minutes, remove spent herbs and citrus, add more water to taste and ice/ Garnish with fresh herbs and another slice of citrus if you have it.

You see how it is. There are infinite possibilities for unbottled refreshment.

These are delicate summer drinks, light and fresh, made straight from the tap and the garden. No cash, no shopping, no plastic bottles, no waste. Even if the herbs are purchased, it’s still a good deal. Make a bunch, pour into a thermal container and carry that in the car instead of a disposable plastic bottle.

And the clincher is that herbs are packed with nutrition, which we’re inclined to forget (Herbs, the garden’s green tonic, 3/09).

Just a glass of water isn’t a bad idea either. Remember that? plain-water

The following links are good sources of information about this issue. I thought I might find varied points of view, but no. Seems to be a consensus that bottled water is another modern convenience that’s become an environmental debacle.
Bottled Water: What a Waste

Breaking the Bottled Water Habit:
“Misseldine is the Sustainability Coordinator in Mill Valley, Calif., one of a growing list of 60 American cities that have canceled bottled water contracts. Except for emergencies, Misseldine believes bottled water is wasteful and largely unnecessary when we’ve invested heavily in a safe and reliable public water supply.
She also believes that the bottled water craze is creating a global environmental problem. Most bottled water is sold in small plastic containers like the ones we buy at airports. The Container Recycling Institute (CRI) estimates Americans buy more than 28 billion single serving bottles annually. Most people assume the vast majority of plastic bottles are recycled, but that is not the case, as the market for recycling plastic is not as well developed as the infrastructure for recycling glass or paper.”

In Hot Water Over a Drink of Water is a reposting from June 2009.

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4 Responses »

  1. Don’t get me started… I drink the Cedar River proudly out of my tap. All the better with a stray salmon egg in the mix!

  2. Flying home from Florida yesterday I found myself in the dilemma of having to sit near to a water fountain (not that easy) or buy a bottle of water. The rules against bringing liquids past security are absurd. They practically force you to buy bottled water or go without. W
    e came home to a garden that virtually exploded while we were gone. I can’t wait to try these infusions!

  3. Poppy, the final link, Breaking the Bottled Water Habit, specifically talks about the problems of air travel and water. Arrrrrrgggghhh.
    Lang, yes, that water’s been packaged, and we fell for it, is a sad state of affairs.

  4. Thank God – finally something to do with my ever prolific lemon balm! Quit buying bottled water a while back and have cut back on changing the filters in my brita.