Photo via Incase Designs via Flickr CC
After the Guardian sent in a freedom of information request, it was discovered that the BBC spends £406,000 (about $670,000) a year on bottled water for its coolers. Plus who knows how much more for bottled water at its over 100,000 events and meetings. And for once, people aren't saying, "So what?"Not only does the BBC spend nearly half a million pounds a year on bottled water for coolers, it also spends an undisclosed amount on bottled water for hospitality events - of which it held 103,000 last year alone - and staffers are allowed to order bottled water for any meetings lasting longer than two hours.
Considering that even when we TreeHugger writers head out to cover green events only to see many of them still providing bottled water to speakers and attendees, there's an urge to say, "Yeah...and? This isn't news." But the great thing is that this spending is being highlighted by a major news source - the Guardian - as a complete waste of money. Finally.
The BBC says that they're reviewing the health impacts of using mains water and are making greener changes where appropriate. But we're curious...do the workers at BBC who drink bottled water all day go home at night and question the health of the water coming out of their own taps? Likely they, like us, trust that when they wash their dishes, take a shower, or fill up the hot water kettle that their water is perfectly safe. What's the difference?
As stated in the Guardian article,
Steve Bloomfield, senior national officer at Unison, which is campaigning for employers to provide staff with mains-fed water, said: "The BBC could save themselves a lot of money, aside from the urgent sustainability issues. Using the health and safety angle is ridiculous. You might as well say you are going to look at the health and safety issues of using plates. Naturally, normal hygiene issues need to be respected but that applies to all food and drink."
And in the US, we have the same issue with an illogical and persistent use of bottled water as a "healthier" option - or worse, trendier. As brought up earlier in the year, how ridiculous is it that a company in New York City can start up and get away with selling, literally and proudly, tap water in plastic bottles?? Luckily there's a counter movement also in New York City via TapIt. The universal counter to the bottled water problem is simply the tap.
With typically stringent standards for clean water enforced in developing nations, there's little reason to worry about filling up a glass at the tap. And while it's great for individuals to go back to the tap, it is wonderful on a whole other level when large companies and organizations ditch the bottled water. So how much could the BBC cut back by only providing bottled water when tap water is completely unavailable?
Maybe the BBC will take the hint and lead the way with getting rid of their bottled water budget. Who might follow suit and shrink their spending and carbon footprint by returning to tap?