Stick to tap water and save the planet

March 11, 2008 at 11:48 am

Ken Livingstone has recently launched the “London on Tap” campaign against the sale and consumption of bottled water in the capital’s bars and restaurants. Over 2 billion bottles of water are sold in the UK each year, a two hundred fold increase in the last thirty years.

Bottled water has become one of the biggest restaurant rip-off. Diners are greeted with the question “Still or sparkling?” and unless you are quick off the mark with your request for a jug of water, few of us can quite bring ourselves to say “tap”.

It is not of course only Londoners’ pockets that the Mayor is keen to protect, but the environment as well. Only one in five bottles is currently recycled, meaning a heavy burden on already over-stretched landfill sites. The carbon emissions from production and transportation come at a huge cost to the environment. In fact, the oil used in the production process alone is sufficient to power 17,000 cars a year.

A recent Panorama programme revealed the startling fact that much of our bottled water comes from as far afield as Fiji, a country in the South Pacific which itself suffers water shortages.

Mayor Ken’s campaign, backed by Thames Water and Friends of the Earth, will be running a competition in May for members of the public to design a special carafe from recycled glass which will be used in restaurants across the capital to offer tap water to customers.

Embarrassingly for politicians, the charity Waste Watch has revealed that the Houses of Parliament got through 155,000 litres of bottled water in 2006/07, at a cost not just to the planet but to the taxpayer. Only 25% of government departments have stopped using bottled water, despite the fact that most people are unable to tell the difference between the bottled variety and filtered tap water.

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