I choose not to sell bottled water in my restaurants, as do many of my peers, like Barrio, Al Vento, POP!, A La Salsa, and many others. I hope you have heard this somewhere else before: everybody on earth needs and deserves clean drinking water. Here in Minneapolis, we are lucky to have some of the best tap water in the country. Recently, the New York Times reported that residents in West Virginia aren’t so lucky; some people there cannot even bathe safely in their tap water, much less drink it.1
Buying bottled water not only supports the idea that tap water does not taste good and is not safe, but it also has a huge impact on the environment. Producing bottled water uses as much as 17 million barrels of oil a year and results in 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere.2 Treehugger.com reports that the U.S. sends about 2 million tons of plastic to landfills each year in the form of plastic water bottles. These numbers do not even include the environmental effects of coal-fired electricity used in some of the plastic production facilities.
The U.S. EPA’s standards for tap water are even more stringent than the FDA’s standards for bottled water! See the link for the EPA article on this topic. Each community water supplier is required to submit an annual report on its water quality. Bottled water producers are not held to any standardsâ€”check out the Environmental Working Group’s article on the bottled water industry (listed at the link in the resource box), which finds contaminants in over 10 top brands of bottled water.
Vote with your dollar and don’t drink bottled water. Many restaurants are choosing not to sell bottled water for these reasons, and some are even carbonating it for extra fancy fun. You can find out which Minneapolis restaurants serve only tap water by visiting Tap Minneapolis, a local initiative that is encouraging people to take a pledge to drink only tap water.
Bottlemania: How Water Went On Sale and Why We Bought It by Elizabeth Royte. Bloomsbury 2008.
1 “Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering,” NYTimes Sept. 12, 2009.
2 “Why Not Bottled Water?” Retrieved April 22, 2009, from What’s Tappening, tappening.com.