The most precious drink of all

Glass of Water

A speech by Charles Cave delivered at  Chatswood Early Risers Toastmasters club – 16th December 2008

This morning I am talking about a very popular drink with a premium price tag. Could it be freshly squeezed fruit juice?No.Maybe aboutique Australian beer? No.This popular drink costs more than these drinks. It’sbottled water. That’s right – Water! Nowadays, many people pay good money for something that is readily available from the tap.

But there is a downside.A recent story in New Internationalist magazinemade me aware of the environmental impact of these plastic bottles. I did some research and want to share my findings with you. 20 years ago, bottled water barely existed as a business. But two years ago, Australians spent $385million on bottled water, paying an average of $1.50 a litre. That’s more expensive than petrol!

Why do people pay good money for something you can get from a tap for free?The answer is marketing.In 1976 Perrier entered the American market promoting their product not as water, but as a beverage.Perrier’s goal was to undermine sales of Coke which they did. After 3 years,sales were $60 million.

Next, the Evian company entered the American market in 1984. They used images of toned young men and women in tight clothes, sweating at the gym and quenching their thirsts with Evian water.Even Madonna drank Evian on stage. Evian had become a status symbol and fashion accessory.But remember,Evian spelt backwards is NAÏVE.

Is bottled water better for us?The bottled water industry has spent a lot of money telling us their product is pristine, pure and safe as well as healthier and safer than tap water.Sydney Water is treated to meet the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.Thewater is tested and monitored at every stage of supply and quality reports are published.How often is bottled water tested? Over the past few years there have been chemical contaminations of various bottled water brands.

Young people are now growing up with the idea that tap water is dangerous and undermines trust in Sydney Water and the clean water they provide.What an irresponsible anddangerous thing to say!Why should Sydney Water provide clean water if the public prefers to pay 500 times more for bottled water?

What about the taste? Choice magazine ran a tasting of Mount Franklin, Frantelle and Sydney Tap water and their tasters couldn’t tell the difference.

Bottled water is expensive. You can buy 30 litres of tap water for five cents. The equivalent in bottled water will set you back over $50. Is that good sense?

What about the plastic bottles? About 100 ml of crude oil is used to make the plastic for one bottle.In addition, manufacturing each ton of plastic produces 3 tonnes of carbon dioxide. But that is just the beginning because the bottles have to be shipped to their final destination. For example, Fiji water, as the name suggests is bottled in Fiji and shipped to Australia.

Once the consumer has drunk the water, what happens to the empty bottles? The plastic is certainly recyclable but in the USA, about 85 percent of water bottles escape recycling and end up in litter or landfill. A similar pattern has emerged in Australia.

So what can you do? Bottled water has become a trendy fashion accessory, and at the same time an environmental nightmare.

Bottled water should be viewed in the same was as plastic bags – environmentally unsustainable.

At the office, use a water jug and glasses for your visitors. There’s no need to give bottles to your guests or pay for fancy bottled water dispensers.

Don’t waste your money buying bottled water. You will help save your environment as well as saving money.

Sydney tap water is safe and ideal for your needs.And when you go out, take your own bottle filled from the tap.

You need to drink at least one to two litres of water a daybut please–make it tap-water.


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