MWRA 2012-2013 Writing Contest Winners

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2012-2013 contest winners main page | school program | home

Alison McGourty
Grade 12, Walpole High School, Walpole
Ms. Wick, Teacher


Do not let this clean, affordable and environmentally-friendly source of drinking water drip away.

Lead the charge, brave souls! Once you start drinking tap water regularly, you can set a positive example for those around you and help to reverse the plastic bottled water craze. Do not just be a part of the crowd; do not fall under the spell of the bottled water companies' spins and messages of fear. Break away from bottled water and drink tap water instead-tap benefits your wallet, your health, and the environment.

Drink tap water for a safe, highly regulated source of water that provides additional health benefits through fluoride. Furthermore, drink tap water to save money-tap water is a fraction of the cost of plastic bottled water. If appeals to safety and cost are not enough, the environmental responsibility of using tap water as opposed to the waste and environmental costs produced by drinking bottled water are enough to make an impact. If you stop drinking plastic bottles of water and convince your friends to do the same, you can make a positive impact on the environment by reducing demand for the wasteful product that is bottled water. Drink tap water and make a difference, in your bank account, your health, and the environment.

The bottled water industry has managed to effectively play on the fears of consumers, selling a brand of "safe" and "purified" water which is in most cases no more than bottled tap water-but much more expensive. Plastic water bottles are ubiquitous but no more safe for consumers than tap water. In fact, tap water is held to stricter safety standards than bottled water, as the EP A's Safe Drinking Water Act holds municipal water treatment facilities to high standards. However, bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, which uses the EPA standards as guidelines but does not have to adhere to all of them.

For example, the EPA does not allow E. Coli to be present in tap water, but the FDA holds water bottlers to no such provision. Not only does the FDA not have to uphold all of the EPA's water quality standards, the FDA only regulates water that is sold between states-if water is bottled and sold in the same state, it is up to the state to regulate it, not the FDA. Moreover, water bottlers are not even required to disclose just where they bottle their water from-unless the company deigns to say otherwise, your plastic bottle of water is as likely to have come from the tap as a fresh mountain spring.

The demonization of tap water and subsequent upholding of bottled water as a safe and smart alternative is a fallacy that can have health consequences. According to a University of Texas study mentioned in the Environmental Nutrition newsletter, "researchers found the bacterial content of an opened water bottle jumped as much as 38-fold in 48 hours at warm temperatures (think of water you might leave in your car).

Chlorinated tap water, on the other hand, showed minimal bacterial growth," this study demonstrates the health benefits of tap water, bacteria growth in bottled water is far higher than in the chlorinated tap water (Environmental Nutrition). Tap water also offers health benefits in the form of fluoride, which offers protection and prevention against cavities and plaque build-up.

Drinking tap water instead of bottled water has massive monetary incentives as well. Tap water literally costs cents to drink, whereas bottled water companies sell plastic water bottles for sometimes a dollar per bottle! Invest in a good quality reusable water bottle, and stop wasting money on plastic bottled water. Bottled water companies are selling a false sense of security to consumers, providing a product that is less strictly regulated than tap water, but creates billion dollar profits for water bottlers.

Refuse to buy in to the bottled water craze. Tell your friends, your family, and your coworkers. Bottled water is a scam, but the companies are very smart, as fear does sell. Plant enough fear that tap water is unsafe and plastic bottles--even though chemicals from the plastic may leach into the water-are a safe and responsible alternative, and soon there is a water bottle industry that rakes in billions of dollars in profits per year. Bottled water aims for convenience and safety. Tap water, however, is as convenient, safer, and far cheaper. Drink tap water and pay cents to the gallon for good quality water as opposed to dollars per gallon of inferior bottled water. You can even use the savings from kicking your bottled water habit to buy a filter for your tap if you'd like-now tap water will taste even better!
Tap water is the environmentally responsible choice when it comes to drinking water. The bottled water industry uses gallons and gallons of oil to transport plastic bottles around the country and the world, not to mention the massive amounts of energy and water spent producing plastic bottles that are all too often simply thrown away.

Plastic bottles are filling up landfills as the bottles are becoming more and more ubiquitous. According to, "about 75 percent of the empty plastic bottles end up in our landfills, lakes, streams and oceans, where they may never fully decompose," discarded plastic bottles have detrimental effects on wildlife exposed to the plastic as well as the water supply (Food and Water Watch).

An article by Brian Howard from E environmental magazine further illustrates the dangers of bottled water, finding that " ... when some plastic bottles are incinerated along with other trash ... toxic chlorine (and potentially dioxin) is released into the air while heavy metals deposit in the ash. If plastics are buried in landfills, not only do they take up valuable space, but potentially toxic additives such as phthalates may leak into the groundwater," plastic bottles are harmful to the environment (E).

Gather your friends, give a presentation at your school, spread the message that tap water is better than bottled water, and stop buying bottled water. If enough people make the shift, water bottle companies will notice.

Tap water is good for your health, your wallet, and the environment. In a world where sanitary drinking water is not a reality for everyone, America is fortunate to have such a dedicated system that keeps safety standards high and purifies water so it can be used for drinking and cleaning.

Careful regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency ensures water quality and cleanliness-and additives such as fluoride provide a modicum of dental care and cavity prevention. Moreover, tap water is an affordable way to obtain high quality drinking water, as opposed to the ludicrous prices and waste of plastic water bottles.

Finally, tap water is the environmentally responsible option. We are all stewards of our own planet, and polluting the earth with waste from plastic water bottles and the oil burned to transport them is not a responsible decision.

Take ownership of your actions and recognize the impact you can have on the Earth-drink tap water and reduce pollution and waste from the plastic bottle industry. Tap water is affordable, environmentally responsible, sanitary, and healthy-do not let these amazing benefits drip away.

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