Put down the bottle

Steven C. Berman is an attorney with Stoll Berne. He can be reached at sberman@stollberne.com or 503.227-1600.

Steven C. Berman is an attorney with Stoll Berne. He can be reached at sberman@stollberne.com or 503.227-1600.

Most Oregon businesses would not intentionally choose to increase costs by up to 2,000 percent, needlessly participate in a landfill catastrophe, and jeopardize employee and client health. Yet many do just that, simply by providing bottled water. Perhaps the easiest way to improve your workplace’s commitment to sustainability is to stop using and purchasing, bottled water. Your workplace will save money, reduce its detrimental impact on the environment and prevent employee exposure to risky chemicals.

Bottled water, inexplicably, is endemic to Portland businesses. Twelve- and 16-ounce bottles routinely show up in conference rooms at meetings I attend. Bottles of water are often set next to seats at continuing legal education classes. It is difficult, as a downtown professional, to avoid having someone hand you at least one bottle of water over the course of the week. I stay away from the stuff, and so does my office.

Unless you are in the business of selling it, bottled water makes no sense from a business perspective. It is expensive, wasteful and almost always unnecessary. From a conservationist perspective, bottled water is inane. Water is heavy. Transporting it from one place to another by truck has a huge carbon footprint. The plastic waste from bottled water consumption is staggering. Consumers in the United States purchase over 2 billion bottles of water each month – enough to circle the globe 20 times.

There is a place and a time for bottled water. Throughout the developing world, people lack access to safe drinking water. In the developed world, communities hit by tragedy — hurricane, earthquake, fire — may have a temporary need for bottled water until their water systems return to functionality. However, in the day to day lives of Oregonians, there is absolutely no need for bottled water.

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