Act now! Drink tap water reduce waste
FRANZISKA ILG HIRSCH
Drinking tap water is good for your health and reduces environmental waste. Did you know that bottled water has more than 100 times the environmental impact of tap water?1
It produces around 1.5 million tons of plastic waste globally and buying it costs up to 1000 times more than tap water.2
We might have many reasons for drinking bottled water – cultural habits, convenience or worries that it might not be safe to drink. There are many places in the world where this is unfortunately true – 900 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water. In Geneva we are fortunate. The quality of the local drinking water is excellent.
To be entirely sure that this also applies to the Palais des Nations, we – a group of colleagues committed to improving the environmental practices of the UN – with the support of UNOG contacted the local water provider SIG who kindly agreed to test the water quality at our taps. Thirteen water samples were taken at different places in the Palais and its annexes. Tests confirmed that the water is clean and safe, meeting WHO and Swiss standards. Bacteriological and metal concentrations of different parameters including copper, iron and zinc all meet WHO and the much stricter Swiss standards. You can find the detailed test results at www.unog.ch/sustainabledevelopment.
As World Water Day is now celebrated on 22 March, we would like to raise awareness about the value of water and the environmental impact of our consumption habits. The Pacific Institute3 in the United States estimates that three litres of water are used for the production of one litre of bottled water. They estimated that in 2006 the production of plastic bottles for American bottled water consumption required the equivalent of 17 million barrels of oil (not counting the energy for transportation) and bottling water produced more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide.
Drinking tap water is an easy way to reduce plastic waste and use resources more responsibly. You can make a positive impact on the environment with small actions every day. Drinking tap water is only one of them. Another way of reducing waste is to avoid the usage of disposable cups. UNOG recently launched the initiative of the ‘Act now’ Porcelain mug that is available for sale in all bars and restaurants of the Palais des Nations and its annexes. This mug can be returned for cleaning to the coffee shops in the Palais.
Act now! Drink tap water. Reduce waste. Tor Bothner, Franziska Ilg Hirsch, Simone Hofner, Sonja Koeppel, Elina Mirzoeva, Lisa Warth. We are a group of volunteering UN colleagues committed to greening the United Nations. There is a growing interest amongst Geneva-based UN colleagues motivated to embark upon actions to improve our environmental footprint in the UN. The Geneva Green Group is an informal network across Geneva-based UN agencies. Should any of you be interested in joining and contributing with thoughts, ideas and actions, please do not hesitate to contact any one of us.
2 WWF (2001) Bottled Water: Understanding a social phenomenon
3 Pacific Institute – Bottled Water and Energy: A fact sheet, http://www.pacinst.org/topics/water_and_sustainability/bottled_water/bottled_water_and_energy.html