I guess it was last summer when I first started noticing Take Back the Tap stickers in restaurant windows. I saw them frequently enough in Manhattan and Brooklyn that I finally got curious enough to ask a waiter what the stickers meant. Turns out the waiter didn’t know either (maybe he was new?), but my iPhone came to the rescue, and I soon learned that the stickers represent a restaurant’s commitment to stop selling bottled water, serve only municipal tap water and help educate customers about the benefits of tap water over bottled water. To accomplish that last goal, the Take Back the Tap people might need to do a little more outreach (the wait staff at participating restaurants probably needs to be aware of the campaign to educate customers about it), but otherwise it’s a very cool effort. We’ve been hearing for years about the environmental toll bottled water has on the planet. The Take Back the Tap website drives that point home, noting that 86% of our country’s empty plastic water bottles, or 2 million tons of PET plastic annually, end up in the garbage instead of being recycled, while plastic bottle production requires about 17.6 million barrels of oil each year in the U.S. alone. Given what’s going on in the Gulf of Mexico right now, I think I speak for everyone in this country when I say, ew. If you still need convincing, the website also mentions that 40% of bottled water out there is nothing but reprocessed tap water, plus bottled water can actually be bad for your health — dangerous chemicals can leach into the water, and as many as a quarter of bottled water brands have tested positive for bacteria or chemical contamination. An impressive roster of restaurants in California, Colorado, DC, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin have taken the Take Back the Tap pledge; visit the campaign’s website to find out if there are any near you. The project also is expanding to college campuses across the country. You can even make an individual pledge to stop drinking bottled water and join the Take Back the Tap movement. You already know it’s the right thing to do, so why not put it in writing?
Help Save the Planet by Taking Back the Tap
A growing movement aims to put down the bottled water and head back to the municipal source: the tap.