Monthly Archives: May 2011

A little respect for water please

Water system new pump

Or as Aretha Franklin would say “R.E.S.P.E.C.T. find out what it means to”…water? Yes, especially when it comes to water. In developed nations our expectation for water is that it will always be available and it should always be cheap. While I agree wholeheartedly with these ideas the situation is a little more complicated than that.

In this article written by Kit Roane for CNN about Charles Fishman’s new book The Big Thirst – The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water he discusses the author’s views on respecting our water supply. Fishman believes that our expectations for cheap water are causing problems that will endanger the future of our water system. For example, we protest against increases in the cost of water from the utility company, but willingly fork over far more per liquid ounce to buy a cheap plastic bottle. According to Fishman we spend as much per year buying bottled water (over $20 billion) than we do “on sustaining the entire water system of the country.” The result is overburdened water systems that are relying on old and often leaking pipelines to deliver public water.

Rather than invest in bottled water and hand over our hard earned money to private corporate giants like Coca Cola, Pepsi, Nestle, and Danone, we should be investing more money into the water system to ensure that cheap water is still available in the future. Fishman points out that India’s water system was working fine in 1947, but now excessive pollution of water supplies and a failure to invest appropriately in municipal water services has made access to clean water from the tap a thing of the past for many people living there.

Fishman also points out some positive changes that have been made by forward looking cities and companies to reduce their water consumption and recapture and reuse water whenever possible. This is not necessarily a victory for green friendly water use, but a function of reducing the cost to operate. If water contamination continues at current rates the cost to purify water and return it to a drinkable state will continue to rise. The more expensive water becomes the more we will think about how we are using it instead of taking it for granted. It has been said that water is the new oil, which is a scary thought. We need to take the right steps now to protect out water supply. We need to stop dumping waste into water supplies and contaminating groundwater and invest in the infrastructure of public water. All it takes is a little respect for our water.

Goldilocks and the three bears revisited

Three bears stamp

We all know the story of Goldilocks and how she visited the home of the three bears while they were out. You probably heard how she tasted the porridge and tried the chairs, but did you know that she was also really thirsty?

First Goldilocks took a glass and filled it from the tap and it was good, but it was not quite cold enough. So she opened the fridge and saw a bottle of Aquafina. She knew the Aquafina bottle was nice and cold, but Goldilocks had read online about how chemicals can leach from PET plastic into the water. She also knew that over 20 billion plastic water bottles are thrown away in trash cans and landfills every year. So she took her glass and filled it from the the refrigerator’s water dispenser instead. When she tasted it she was pleasantly surprised because it was cold, tasted great, and safe to drink. You see, the filter inside the refrigerator was independently tested by the NSF so Goldilocks knew that the water she was drinking was safe.

Okay, maybe that is not how the story really goes, but the story of Goldilocks and the three bears is just a myth. A lot like these myths about drinking water from the NSF consumer information website. NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) International was founded in 1944 to provide public health and safety-related information to concerned consumers around the world.

NSF International performs independent testing of water filters to verify their contaminant reduction claims.

Here are the common myths about public drinking water from the NSF page, see if you know the truth about your water quality before you click the link to get the answers.

  • We have less water today than we did 100 years ago
  • Once you use water, it is gone
  • If there is lead in your water, it’s the fault of the water treatment plant
  • Using a home water treatment device will make tap water safer or healthier to drink
  • Bottled water is always safer than tap water
  • Water will purify itself, so we don’t need to worry about it

You may be surprised by some of the answers you find. If you know all the answers without checking the NSF page then you should pat yourself on the back and tell all your friends how smart you are!

Sea turtles mistake plastic for jellyfish

Sea turtle

I already knew that fish were eating plastic from watching the documentary film Tapped, but I was not really prepared to see this article from Mother Nature Network, or @MotherNatureNetwork on twitter. A green sea turtle, rescued in 2009, was found to have eaten a large amount of plastic. The team of marine biologists was able to extract the largest piece, but the poor turtle still excreted plastic for a month. Marine biologists believe that sea turtles are eating the plastic waste that finds its way into the ocean because it looks like a jellyfish. Since sea turtles love to eat the jellyfish they chomp down on the plastic bag look-a-likes as well.

Reducing the amount of plastic that we use and dispose of every day can make a difference. Everyone has a part to play in helping keep plastic out of the ocean.

It does not have to be a huge life altering decision, because every little bit helps. Try taking a re-usable cloth bag to the store to get groceries instead of using plastic bags. Take a re-usable water bottle with you to work instead of a single use PET plastic bottle. Remember that re-using is better than recycling and if you can’t avoid disposable goods make sure to recycle whenever you can. Cheap plastic water bottles and plastic grocery bags are convenient, but they cause damage to the environment. Challenge yourself to try just one way to reduce plastic waste. I chose to stop buying bottled water and instead keep a bottle of filtered water in the fridge. I haven’t bought bottled water at all in several months. It’s a small change, but it starts with you and me making the right decisions. Together we can make a big difference.

Fridgefilters Basic Contest Rules

The following are basic rules governing all contests conducted by FridgeFilters.com. Rules for individual contests and promotions may conflict with these rules in which case, the individual contest rules will take precedence over the basic rules.

Unless otherwise indicated, you must be 21 or older to play

Limit of one entry per person. One winner per household address.

All requirements for entry in the contest must be completed (if applicable) to be eligible to win

Winner will be selected at random from all eligible entries received.

By registering, you give FridgeFilters.com the authorization to use your name, photo, voice recording or likeness in promotional materials without further compensation.

Employees and immediate family members of Fridgefilters.com and participating sponsors are not eligible to participate. The term “immediate family” includes spouses, grandparents, parents, siblings, children and grandchildren of the contestant.

The decisions of FridgeFilters.com management as to the interpretation of these rules are final. By participating, contestants agree to be bound by the decisions of FridgeFilters.com management in any disputes arising from the participation in or execution of the contest.

FridgeFilters.com and any participating sponsors reserve the right to disqualify any entry not conforming to the rules of the promotion at any time. FridgeFilters.com and its contest and promotional partners assume no responsibility for entry fraud committed by any entrant. In the event it is determined that an ineligible entrant wins a prize, FridgeFilters.com reserves all rights to the ownership and return of the prize and all costs associated with remedying any prize award to an ineligible entry or entrant.

FridgeFilters.com is not responsible for undeliverable, lost, delayed, misdirected or misaddressed email or any other issues regarding the electronic delivery of the contest form. This includes, but is not limited to, the speed at which your email service routes email through the internet. The sole determiner of eligibility for the final drawing will be the time the email is received at our offices.

Unless otherwise indicated, prizes must be claimed within 30 days of winning. Prizes not claimed within 30 days will not be awarded. Business Hours are Monday-Friday from 9am-5pm ET. You can also reach us online at www.facebook.com/fridgefilters. Any offer or promotion on Facebook is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. Any information used to determine the winner and/or deliver prizes for the contest: including names, email, and address information is provided to Fridgefilters and not to Facebook.

Failure to comply with any published contest rules is grounds for immediate disqualification from the contest.

No purchase necessary to play. Void where prohibited.

When water isn’t just water

Water test

It’s real water. Or at least that is what the makers of Real Water want you to believe. According to the Real Water website the water that we drink is damaged, or too acidic and does not hydrate the body properly. The science behind their claims is fairly impressive…in volume. It is true that tap water is slightly acidic, which means it has a pH level lower than 7, but is it really bad for your health? Real Water thinks it is and charges $36 for a case of 24 bottles.

You may think that’s not too much to pay if you are going to get better water. After all if you check out their website Real Water claims to be adding free electrons to the damaged water to increase the pH level. The result is a water with greater alkalinity, or pH level higher than 7, so it actually hydrates you far better than damaged water. To be honest their science looks good to an untrained eye, but an alert tweet from @OpheliaRising led me to a great piece in the Guardian written by Rebecca Hill. In the article she explores the claims made by Real Water and spoke with both a chemist and a nutritionist to get their take on positively charged water and the effects of low pH on “damaged water”.

So the first claim that our drinking water is “damaged” and bad for our health is untrue. The chemist, Professor Stephen Fletcher, point out that “The lowest possible pH of carbonated water is around 5″. That means that carbonated water, which is obviously bubbly and not at all like tap water, still only has a pH of 5. Vinegar is a thousand times more acidic than carbonated water and is not dangerous to human health so it is perfectly safe to drink water with a pH level that is slightly less than 7.

So what about the claim that water treatment systems cause water to lose electrons to the point where it no longer hydrates us and the loose free radicals harm our cells? Again bogus. Fletcher argues that, “Water molecules do not act as free radicals” and “The acid component of water (called a hydrogen ion) emphatically does not have an unpaired electron. In fact, it has no electrons at all.”

Finally the company claims that their proprietary process adds millions of free radicals back into water to pair with the loose electrons (free radicals) to bind them back together and increase the alkalinity of water. As Fletcher points out the principle of electro-neutrality prevents water from becoming positively charged in the first place. So if the water was never positively charged, how could Real Water add back missing electrons in the form of free radicals? As Professor Fletcher points out “It follows that the E2 technology cannot add ‘hundreds of millions of free electrons’ to anything, no matter how it works.”

So it seems that Real Water is not real water after all. Like other fellow water bottling companies they are trying to convince you that the water you can buy from them is better than the water that comes from your own tap. You can pay $1.50 a bottle for Real Water, or you can pay a few pennies for a nice glass of water from your own home. As nutritionist Sue Baic points out in the article “Normal tap water is perfectly healthy.” Public water systems routinely test your water and have to adhere to higher health and safety standards than bottled water companies. Don’t buy the hype and especially don’t buy Real Water.