ABC Promotes Kicking the Bottled Water

     Stop and drop that water bottle, you’re hurting the environment.


     That was the message promoted by ABC “World News” on the July 8 broadcast. The segment blasted the bottled water industry and promoted the decision of a “venerable” restaurant to take bottled water off the menu.


     “With every sip are you actually hurting the environment?” teased anchor Dan Harris, before Eric Horng’s report made an undisputed claim that you are.


     “For us, it’s about doing the right thing,” said Michael Kossa-Rienzi, general manager of Chez Panisse, a restaurant in Berkeley, California.


     While that sounds noble, everything in Chez Panisse, from the furnishings to the tablecloths and the menu items, required energy and natural resources to ship to the restaurant – a detail ignored by the environmentally conscious Kossa-Rienzi and ABC’s Horng. 


     Kossa-Rienzi offered a more detailed rationale on National Public Radio March 22.


     “What we’ve-we’ve realized is that shipping water from Italy and then trucking it to our restaurant is a-a pretty extravagant and somewhat wasteful thing,” Kossa-Rienzi said on “All Things Considered.”


     However, Kossa-Rienzi’s restaurant features many extravagant selections of wine imported from France and the aforementioned Italy. If you do the math, a bottle of wine is much more environmentally unfriendly to ship. A standard glass bottle of wine, containing 750 milliliters (a little over 25 ounces), weighs 3-5 pounds. But a plastic bottle containing the same amount of water would weight less (glass is heavier than plastic), and therefore be more environmentally friendly than the wines. ABC’s Horng did not point that out for viewers.


     ABC provided a mere eight second rebuttal from Stephen Kay of the International Bottled Water Association and glossed over industry efforts to help the environment. According to ACNielsen, the industry was worth about $9 billion in 2003.


     According to the IBWA’s Web site, 100 percent of bottled water containers are recyclable, and water cooler jugs for home or office coolers are sanitized and “can be reused an average of 50 times.”


     But that’s not good enough for even the liberal environmentalists quoted in ABC’s report.


     “If people really understood what was behind the manufacture of those plastic bottles they would think twice,” said Allen Hershkowitz of the Natural Resources Defense Council to ABC News. But the real solution, according to the NRDC is to stop drinking altogether.


     The NRDC Web site has a dire warning about the consumption of tap water, the alternative to bottled water promoted by ABC. The warning reads: “Scientists estimate that each year up to 7 million Americans become sick from contaminated tap water, which can also be lethal. Pollution, old pipes and outdated treatment threaten tap water quality.”

     This wasn't the first shot fired by the media against the bottled water industry. Last month, CNN gave a glowing account of the city of San Francisco measure to ban public funding to be used for the purchase of bottled water because of its contribution to global warming.