US Congress wastes thousands on bottled water

Congress wasting thousands of dollars in taxpayers' money on bottled water that harms our environment

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

During and after the State of the Union recently, President Obama and Congressional Republicans waxed poetic about the need to cut wasteful spending in Washington. But there is an easy place to start:

According to Corporate Accountability International, Congress spent nearly $200,000 on bottled water in just three months last year. Recent studies estimate that bottled water costs almost 2,000 times more than tap water – even though the two types of water often come from the same sources.

Besides being a waste of money, bottled water is terrible for the environment: The energy needed to produce the plastic consumption is enough to fuel three million cars for a year.

But it is not just the plastic bottled and the fact that most of them never get recycled, for instance, that is the problem; the unnecessary extraction of water, whether from springs or municipal sources, as it the case in 40 percet of all cases, is what is the greatest problem even.

Nearly one million tons of plastic bottles are discarded as litter each year, ending up in landfills, lakes and streams. What's more, public water infrastructure in DC and around the whole country needs all the support it can get – especially from Congress.

And the same is true elsewhere too and while the American citizen can, theoretically, find out all theses things, such as Congress expenditure on bottled water in Britain, for example, that information is, and please don't laugh, covered by the “Official Secrets Act 1911”. Sad, I know. It is, however, the belief of the British government, over the years, that the general public could not understand all those fact and figures. In other words, the Subjects of Her Britannic Majesty are seen as and treated like children, or imbeciles.

American lobby groups are now calling upon Congress to stop wasting our money and end its use of bottled water and to sweeten the deal, DC Water (a local utility) has even offered to provide every member of Congress with a reusable water bottle as well as free water quality testing systems for Congressional office buildings.

When members of Congress complain about wasteful spending, they should curb their own bad habits first.

No doubt the same problems exist in the Houses of Parliament as regards to bottled water usage and other waste too. I could mention the waste of food, for instance, and while government keeps telling us that we must end the practice of food waste the catering establishment within the Palace of Westminster, in the way they operate, waste tons, literally, of food a week. Food that has been cooked but never been eaten.

They, whether in the Palace of Westminster or Whitehall or at Capitol Hill in DC, try to tell the general public how to live and behave but it would seem that it is a definite case of “Do as I tell you not as I do”. Shame they think that different rules apply to them than to the rest of us.

We can see that by the way the British MPs have been milking the expenses system and when they are caught with the hand in the till, so to speak, try to claim parliamentary privilege and thus exception from criminal prosecution. They really think themselves, in the majority, better than those that have put them there. Time for a change, methinks, a serious one.

© 2011