Carbon neutral: keep wine, ditch water

bottleh2o

I’m giving up water for 30 days. Bottled water that is.

In the discussion of the carbon footprint of wine here last week, I floated the idea of purchasing carbon offsets to assuage carbon guilt. In case I had any doubt of the efficacy of this matter, an excellent column in the Financial Times last week on the subject of offsets made me put paid to this notion.

A hilarious quote compared the system of carbon offsets to “the medieval system of indulgences, in which corrupt priests absolved sins for haggled fees.” The author, John Guthrie, went on to say that the practice of buying tracts of forest land for protection as offsets may be out of favor now. The band Coldplay bought 10,000 mango trees in southern India to offset the carbon produced by the release of their second album. Five years later, the trees have now withered and died.

So if I am to make my wine drinking carbon neutral, I can’t buy my way out of it: I actually have to give something up. I figure I should go beverage-for-beverage, in other words, keep wine, and give up something else. I’d love to say that I would give up soda, but since I haven’t had a soda in something like 15 years, that would kind of be like my giving up snowmobiling, jet-skiing, and being driven to work in a stretch Hummer limousine (oh wait, that last one actually WILL be tough to give up).

Because the kind of wine that I enjoy is a unique product that can’t be replaced locally, I have another target in my sights that can: bottled water. It’s one of those paradoxes of the global era to be able to buy spring water from the French alps or the islands of Fiji in New York when there is abundant drinkable tap water available (unlike some countries, the efforts of a current UNICEF campaign). And, as a commenter pointed out in a previous posting, this chart shows that bottled water’s growth rate is faster than wine–it must be stopped!

So for 30 days I’m not going to consume any bottled water. Just what kind of a sacrifice will that be? Granted, not a huge one. I might save the world something like 30 bottles of water. But it’s a start. And I may even extend it if I can live without my favorite Gerolsteiner. So if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and fill up my water bottle at the drinking fountain.

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15 Responses to “Carbon neutral: keep wine, ditch water”


  1. What an incredible WASTE bottled water is. Municipal water is safe, drinkable, and affordable, no matter where you are in America. If you don’t like the taste of your water, you can buy a filter. But to support the transportation of water – at an amazing 8 pounds per gallon – so you can drink the same molecule that’s coming out of your tap is unconsciable for knowing people. The energy costs involved in shipping water are vast – and there is no good reason to.


  2. What about all the plastic waste? And what exactly is in bottled water??

    http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Publications/PM1813.pdf

    http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2007/05/04/BUGUSPKP6D1.DTL&type=business


  3. Yes what is in those bottles? The names don’t exactly inspire confidence:
    Deer Park – If not droppings at least ticks
    Poland Spring – the scoreboard near Krakow displaying insane levels of local toxins
    Fuji – Sand and salt water
    Volvic – can’t say
    etc.
    And remember in 1990 when benzene was found in Perrier and the spring was subsquently “fixed”?


  4. haha Steve. And remember Evian backwards is…Naive!

    Actually I did find that pdf list of bottled waters quite interesting. Who know Gerolsteiner was so high in sodium–only topped by San Pellegrino! The water that makes you want more water…


  5. thought this would be of interest in your quest, Dr. V

    http://www.refillnotlandfill.org/


  6. The king of salty mineral water is Badoit (yes another problematic name for English speakers), weighing in at 150 g/ml as opposed to San Pellegrino’s wimpy 44.2 g/ml.

    A friend of mine who is insane enough to like it ordered it in a Paris bistro and the waiter only served it after a short lecture and long period of protest. Pure water was no doubt required after this bottle of mineral water’s answer to Doritos.


  7. Ha – actually I remember having a bubbly bottled water in Spain that may have even rivaled Badoit – I think it was called Vichy (pronounced bee-chee, Steve, I know you’ll love that one since you are the Senior Bottled Water Name Correspondent). Absolutely salt-tastic.

    Funny how the bubbly waters have such higher sodium!


  8. Dr. Vino:

    You are on to something. Even high-brow restaurants are eliminating bottled water from their repertoire. Chez Panisse now offers only tap water. And water filtration systems are being put in at eateries across the nation. I’ve been carrying around my Nalgene bottle for years now–always ahead of the trends! It has always been so funny to see Americans with their bottled water–we have great drinking water–let’s put our money to better use–quit buying bottled water and instead help UNICEF get clean water to people around the globe.


  9. [...] I was watching planes take off and land last Friday at LaGuardia, I contemplated the folly of my bottled water ban. Jets roared overhead burning carbon and spewing emissions and I am doing what–not drinking a [...]


  10. Check out http://www.glacia.co.uk
    I think this will brighten everyone’s day. Another option to those horrible PET bottles.
    Great water and environmentally friendly


  11. [...] a tradition of cultivation of Fiji water.” Excellent! He’s clearly been reading his Dr. Vino! [great piece on bottled water in Fast [...]


  12. Oh dear, I just bought 4 bottles of Gerolsteiner yesterday! I had noticed the sodium content but chose to ignore it (even though I should be limiting my sodium intake). I came across your article while doing some research on carbon-neutral viticulture/winemaking for my viticulture/enology classes. Btw, I wish you had been at NYU when I was there. Your classes sound great! You now have another regular reader.


  13. So, am I to understand that drinking soft drinks and energy drinks is perfectly reasonable, but drinking water — which quenches thirst better than soft drinks and is better for you — is not? That’s ridiculous! The sweetener industry must be absolutely delighted about the current ongoing vilification of water.

    I do agree that carrying around a canteen of tap water makes economic and environmental sense. But until someone figures out a good way to add carbonation at home, I’ll be buying and recycling my bottles of Pellegrino.


  14. Hi Kady –

    Thanks so much for the compliment! See you round the net.

    WineCanine –

    No, that’s not what I’m suggesting. If someone were forced to buy a bottled drink, water would clearly be the nutritious choice. It’s just that with a fairly minimal effort, the choice to buy anything at all can be obviated by bringing a water bottle along, filled up from a tap.

    Some restaurants are carbonating their own water, FYI, though you’d probably have to drink a lot of bubbly water to make that worthwhile at home…


  15. I have been trying very hard not to drink bottled water for about a year now. It can certainly be challenging. I live in NYC which has the champagne of municipal waters, but then that glorious liquid travels through pipes that are sometimes 100s of years old. So I use a water bottle with a built-in carbon filter. This is also handy when traveling to a place where the water quality is not as high as in NYC. (Yes, those filters are probably made in china and have their own carbon footprint, but at least they don’t weigh as much as a jug of water.)

    I also use a carbonation machine to carbonate my water at home. It is certainly more affordable than buying bottles of bubbly water in the long run, and I get to adjust the bubbles to the size I want.


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