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Ask Dr. Gott 7/31
Bottled water not worth the cost
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: I know you've addressed the problem before, but what's your view on drinking bottled water, and how much of it should we drink?
    DEAR READER: Unfortunately for the bottled-water industry, my views have not changed one bit.
    Tap water has not risen in price the way everything else appears to have shot up. It's there for us at the turn of a faucet. According to reports, Americans spent $11 billion on bottled water in 2006. The reason can be summed up in one word: marketing. We can be convinced, sometimes quite easily, to purchase nearly anything, and that includes water that can be had cheaply at the kitchen sink.
    It's getting to the point that one can't walk down a street or stand in a crowd without seeing numerous people drinking bottled water in public. You'd recognize them. They're the same people that are talking on their cell phones while they sip water from a plastic bottle. Some containers even have designer labels, but perhaps that makes the water taste better!
    Plastic bottles are expensive to produce. They require 17 million barrels of oil to manufacture annually. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all switched to tap water and redirected the oil used to a more worthwhile cause — like heating our homes?
    With recycling being so big, bottled-water users certainly add to the problem by discarding millions of empty plastic bottles daily. Taking simple steps can reduce our oil consumption, keep our country beautiful and make our recycling problems lighter. The only thing heavier will be us with the money in our pockets we've saved by drinking tap water.
    Think of all the pristine areas of our country that are violated when manufacturers invade them with large trucks and set up their machinery to remove millions of gallons of water from aquifers. Yes, I am fully aware the firms hire locals. This, in turn, helps the economy, but good grief. What's wrong with simple tap water?
    To respond to how much water to drink, the old rule of thumb is eight glasses daily. Do I believe this? Nope! I believe you should let your body be the guide, not the glitzy magazines that seem to know more about you than you do yourself. If you are thirsty, drink. It's that simple. If you are going out and want to take water with you, pour some into a plastic bottle used for another purpose and take it along. For a refreshing change, rub a lemon slice around the rim of a wine glass before filling with iced tap water that has been refrigerated for several hours. Then drop the lemon slice into the glass for a great visual effect. You will have a very inexpensive thirst-quencher people will enjoy.
    I recommend a new book that deals with these problems: "Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It" by Elizabeth Royte (Bloomsbury USA, 2008).
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