When I moved to rural Alaska this past summer I had to make some changes in the way that I eat. There are no restaurants, no take-out pizza, and no store-bought meals. Every meal takes planning. From baking bread, to soaking beans the night before dinner, to defrosting moose meat from the freezer. I try to be health-conscious of what my family and I put in our bodies. Almost everything I eat is homemade – and almost everything I drink is homemade as well, sort of.
Due to high shipping costs, one does not see cases of bottled water lining the shelves of the general stores. Instead we have to filter our own water. We are assured that the tap water here is safe to drink, just as we were assured that the water in Las Vegas (where we used to live) was safe. However the water coming out of the Yukon River has something in common with the water from Lake Mead; it does not taste good. Have you ever tasted water that had a chemical essence to it? How can that be healthy and safe? So we have a water distiller for drinking water and a counter-top filtration system for using water to cook with. Each device cost us about $150. I did a quick guesstimate of how much money we spent on bottled water while living in the continental U.S. It was never something I really thought about. Now I wish that I would have spent a little cash on a distiller, reverse osmosis system, or something else other than buying bottle after bottle of water contributing to a vast amount of plastic waste.
Bottled water is the most consumed marketed beverage in the United States. More than beer, more than coffee, more than wine, more than soda. Think of how much plastic we waste as consumers by purchasing a beverage that we have on tap right in our sink. For a small initial investment anyone can have clean, tasteless water that will end up costing a fraction of what bottled water costs over time. Water that tastes good and is good for the environment – imagine that.
It took a little getting used to hearing my wife say, “Glen, can you make some water before we go to bed?” Now it’s just a part of the day. I do not know how long I will live off the road system in Alaska. I do think that eventually I will move back to the lower 48, and when I do you can bet that you will see a distiller on my counter top (or another less-wasteful option) and not a trash can full of plastic water bottles.