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Is Bottled Water Better?

Bottled water is everywhere these days. But is it really worth the extra expense?

1 Bottle at a Time continued...

Further, some environmentalists charge that even when the water is safe to drink, the plastic bottles it comes in pose a hazard to the environment. Manufacturing them helps to pollute the air and burn oil resources, these groups say, and the bottles come back to haunt us a second time when they show up in landfills.

According to the research organization Earth Policy Institute, American's demand for bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil a year -- enough to power 100,000 cars. And the Container Recycling Institute reports that 86% of plastic water bottles in the United States end up in landfills. When burned, they produce byproducts that may be harmful to humans and the earth, according to the Earth Policy Institute.

Moreover, at least two Italian studies reported that chemicals used to make most water bottles could leach into the water itself. This could result in residues that, at least preliminarily, have been shown to disrupt DNA and increase cancer risks.

At least one bottled water marketer -- David Zutler, a Colorado environmentalist and new player in the bottled water game -- says he's found the answer to these problems. And it's sitting smack in the middle of a cornfield.

Scientists at the University of Nebraska had been experimenting with a natural "plastic" bottle made from corn. And when Zutler was ready to bring his BIOTA Colorado spring water to market, he helped fund the development of the new, planet-friendly corn bottle.

"On the one hand, I had this totally pristine Colorado water source, untouched by any agriculture or industry, and on the other hand, I had plastic packaging made from fossil fuel, with questionable health concerns," says Zutler. "So when I heard about this totally safe new corn plastic, I thought this is the answer."

BIOTA is the first (and as of now the only) bottled water to come packed in the environmentally friendly corn-based plastic bottle. The bottle does not leach chemicals into its contents, Zutler says. And while many recycling plants are not yet equipped to handle the new bottles, Zutler says that it's an easy – and profitable – renewable process.

If the corn-based bottles do end up in a landfill, Zutler says, they burn clean. And he says that the manufacturing process saves over a barrel of oil for every 80 bottles consumed.

There's another option for people who like the idea of bottled water but are concerned about waste: Another Colorado-based company, New Wave Enviro Products, sells a combination Better Water Bottle Filter that uses the new corn-based bottle. Reusable up to 90 times, the filter turns any tap water into cleaner drinking water, while the corn bottle offers an environmentally safe way to carry it.

Reviewed on July 14, 2006

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