Thursday, February 19, 2009

I’ve Kept It Bottled Up Long Enough

Sure, I felt foolish standing in the store looking at bottled water, but hey, been there before.
And here’s a flashback to foolishness example: I remember many years ago when a leading manufacturer of athletic shoes came out with “air ” models.
Not only were these shoes comfortable…the manufacturer also put a window in the heel/sole so you could “see” the air you were buying.
Wow! What a bargain! Not only was I suddenly pretty darn swift afoot, but hey, now I was literally walking on air. Not only that, I could look at the air…AND SHOW IT TO OTHERS.
I couldn’t wait to go out and show all my buds. “Hey man, just look at this! Look at this…well, look at this air I bought in these shoes!”
Fast forward a few decades, and we are buying air from compressors for a handful of quarters. It’s worth it if your tire is dangerously low, but does anybody remember when that was a customer service, for free?
And the shoe market? Heck, the other day we bought our kid a pair of shoes that was actually missing much of the sole. Now there is a deal! Today we don’t even need a window to look at the air we are buying in our athletic shoes. Heck, if we want, we can stick our fingers in there and FEEL it.
Oh, the joy!
I don’t know about you folks, but I feel kind of funny buying air, empty space or whatever, in shoes or elsewhere.
Fast forward again, and I am back to feeling foolish in the present.
Sure, there I was the other day, walking down the aisle of a major grocer.
And suddenly I realized I was akin to Charlton Heston in “The Ten Commandments”, minus the beard, robe, sandals, movie star good looks and cool staff that can turn into a cobra.
Yep, there I stood in a valley of water. On both sides of me, stacked high, were bottles and bottles of H20.
It was a dog-gone deluge, I tell you.
It brought to mind another ponderable: Does anyone remember when people that bought Perrier were the butt of jokes?
Talk about coming full circle in a whirlpool.
Today bottled water is evidently THE thing to buy…in the name of health consciousness.
There was spring water, glacier water, mineral water and more. There was even flavored water. (Man, I remember when they used to just call that Kool-Aid.)
On one hand it says how a good marketing man is worth his weight bottled water, if not gold. I mean really, some people can sell flip-flops to an Eskimo. But then too, some Eskimos are obviously out there that want to wear flip-flops, though probably not in their Artic homeland.
I mean my household has certainly “bought into it” (or fallen victim, depending upon how you look at it). Open our ’fridge and you can tell we go with the flow. At least “somebody” bought it. (And it wasn’t me, but boy and I apt to pay for that.)
So, the bottled water market is bubbling if not booming.
But on another hand, it defies common sense, a sentiment I was sharing with myself…sandwiched between aisles of agua and feeling foolish.
Think about it, people. (Yes, I am preaching now.) We are paying considerably more money for bottled water than the very similar (if not better) water we can get from the tap for basically pennies.
And hey, our city’s water is perfectly fine, by the way.
To make sure, I talked with Regie Castellaw, General Manager of the City of Brownsville Utilities.
“My personal opinion is that bottled water is not all that it’s cracked up to be,” Castellaw told me.
“I’m in an ongoing battle with my kids on this very issue. My ‘bottled’ water comes from the kitchen sink. We have some of the best water in the world available in West Tennessee.”
Castellaw also noted, in his opinion, that the packaging of water in bottles seems a waste of resources.
Meanwhile, here are some other points of interest I dug up that paint a cloudy picture, at best, when it comes to bottled water.
• A lot of the bottled water is lacking in fluoride, a fact that many dentists in this country believe is leading to more tooth decay. One statistic indicates that tap water — which for over two-thirds of Americans contains all of the fluoride that they need to prevent tooth decay. The American Dental Association has stated that if bottled water is your main source of drinking water, you could be missing the decay-preventive benefits of fluoride.
• Then you figure in the production of all the plastic to make water bottles (petroleum is used, and we know what’s happening in that market) and then the waste products…and well, the bottled-water phenomenon really doesn’t seem all that great in other avenues, either.
OK, OK, OK. With the exception of St. Patrick’s Day, I am not a “green” freak, but you gotta know a lot of resources are being used to make plastic bottles and in turn, a lot of them are being left behind as waste product.
Well, it doesn’t seem to add up.
And just maybe I feel foolish buying bottled water, simply because I deserve to?
What about you…?

Taylor Wilson is an editor for Bill Dance Publishing and has been writing for newspapers and magazines for 20 years. He can be reached via e-mail at

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