Health-conscious Americans are drinking more bottled water than ever -- and the tonnage of discarded plastic water bottles is a growing pollution concern. Environmentalists are urging people to drink tap water from refillable containers.
Water Fight: Bottled vs. Tap
MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host:
Bottled water is under attack these days, banned from city offices in San Francisco, even under scrutiny here in New York. NBC's chief environmental affairs correspondent Anne Thompson explains why.
ANNE THOMPSON reporting:
Forget paper or plastic, in New York the new dilemma is bottled or tap.
Unidentified Woman: I like New York City tap water.
THOMPSON: For New Yorkers, city water has long been a source of local pride...
Unidentified Man: Tastes great.
THOMPSON: ...and now is the subject of a $700,000 ad campaign to get New Yorkers to turn away from soft drinks that can contribute to obesity and diabetes.
Ms. EMILY LLOYD (Commissioner, New York City Department of Environmental Protection): If we were encouraging people to drink water, we didn't want them to have to go to the expense of buying a lot of bottled water.
THOMPSON: Americans poured $11 billion into the industry last year. Drinking eight glasses a day of the bottled stuff will run you $1500 a year, says the city. New York's tap? Just 50 cents. And that's not all. It turns out the healthy choice you make for yourself is not so healthy for the planet, because environmentalists say the bottle that holds the water actually creates water pollution, up to three gallons of contaminated water for every pint bottle produced.
Dr. ALAN HERSHOWITZ (National Resources Defense Council): Bottled water is an environmental loser just about every way you look at it, in its manufacture and its disposal.
THOMPSON: In fact, less than one out of four bottles is recycled. The industry, sensitive to the criticism, says it's reduced the plastic resin in the bottles and is starting a pilot program to encourage recycling.
Mr. JOE DOSS (President, International Bottled Water Association): Any effort to reduce the environmental impact of packaging has to focus on all consumer goods and not just target bottled water.
THOMPSON: So what's a busy New Yorker to do? Use a refillable bottle like this one, say city officials, to save your waistline, your pocketbook and the earth. For TODAY, Anne Thompson, NBC News, New York.
Most people's New Year's resolutions are all about self-improvement: exercising more, saving money, learning new skills. This year, enlist your family or friends in a group resolution: reducing your single-use plastic waste.