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Monday, June 24, 2024

Keeping Our Heads Above Water… Bottles

By Dolores Tropiano

In the film “The Guilt Trip,” Joyce Brewster’s son is horrified when his mom (played by Barbra Streisand) refills a plastic bottle at the refrigerator water dispenser. He undoubtedly believes she should just buy another case of bottled water. But the eco-minded viewers may have given mom five sustainability stars for unknowingly preventing more plastic from flooding the ocean or overflowing throughout the house.

Proliferating Plastic

I wish that worked in our home. While I’m happy my boys are hydrated, their plastic bottles seem to spread faster than dirty, orphaned socks throughout our home (especially after our fridge dispenser broke). If I go into their bathroom, bottles are beside the throne. When I clean under the sofa, surprise, several have rolled under. They accompany soccer, Spikeball and every Fortnite Battle Royale. But when the fun ends, the bottles never find their way to the recycling bin.

When friends are over, bottles multiply exponentially. They range from nearly empty, to half full, to (this is my personal favorite) opened and full, so no one else can possibly drink from them.

Sometimes, late at night when they’re asleep, I roam from room to room picking up bottles in various stages of empty and pouring them into flower pots, the dog’s bowl, and — regrettably — down the drain.

I can’t imagine that on the third day, when God created water, his vision was to neatly divide it into 16-ounce plastic bottles for our drinking pleasure.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan built an entire routine around the stupidity of bottled water. “I know it’s free from the faucet,” he says, “but I want to pay for it.” Gaffigan’s theory behind this marketing phenomena is that some cigarette-smoking Frenchmen were debating the dumb decimal of American consumers and had voilà moment, “I bet we can sell them water.”

And not just any water. When my kids drink bottled water in public, Bashas’ brand just won’t do. It has to be the better bottled water, the exceptional, higher quality H2O, as opposed to the cheap, watered-down water.

So, I decided that abolishing water bottles would be my first official effort at turning green.

Testing the water solutions

Last month, I tried to banish water bottles after buying a filtered pitcher. But there were two problems. First, every time the pitcher was empty, it was left on the table waiting for a magic wand to refill it. And second, and of much greater concern, tiny, black specs started appearing in the water. So, back to the store I went for another case of bottles. Recently, my older son saw the (empty, half-empty, full) bottles scattered through the house, and it hit him. He realized we had a problem with plastic bottles. (Besides the garbage patch making waves in the Pacific.)

“But we need an alternative,” he said.

I soon learned that finding an alternative was like pursuing the perfect mate on Match.com. There’s lots of sorting and studying, and even then the choice can fall short. And it seemed that now that the search was on, everywhere I looked, possibilities popped out. Sparkletts trucks cut me off on the road, discounted water coupons arrived in the mail, and at Costco the water salespeople shouted out at me like beer vendors at a baseball game.

I discovered big jugs of delivered water that (in my petty opinion) are an option for the office but an eyesore for a home. There are countless varieties of filtered pitchers and faucets…and then there is reverse osmosis. Did you know that you can boil the evil out of water? Here are my top picks: prickly pear and dungeness crab shells (which trap dissolved metals in water). Those look like realistic options.

I can’t be the first to fish through fresh-water options. Can you help? Please send any suggestions from your search to dolores@greenlivingaz.com. The winner will get a year’s supply of Evian, the essence of purity. Just kidding. But wouldn’t the French love that?



What small change will you make this month?

In our April issue, I started a series called Turning Green. It’s about my adventure towards greener living. (OK, it is not exactly a safari trip,  but an adventure sounded like more fun than a journey). I would love this to be OUR adventure. Won’t you join me? This month, my family is going to try to eliminate plastic water bottles that have taken over our home, not to mention the ocean. What can you begin with? We have put together a tear-out to tape on your refrigerator as a reminder of your decision. You can also find one at greenlivingaz.com. Please share successes and stumbles forward that we can feature  or not, if that is your preference. The main idea is to get moving towards change for our lives and the life of the planet.

Turning Green Commitment Card

  • On (date)  ________ I/we (circle one) decided to change… __________________.
  • I/We believe this is an important because ____________________________.
  • Green Living or ______________will help me/us stay accountable.
  • These are action steps needed to make this happen:
  • _____________________________
  • _____________________________
  • _____________________________


Dolores Tropiano is the managing editor of Green Living magazine. She has worked in print and broadcast media for more than 20 years. Tropiano lives in Scottsdale with her husband, Alain, her boys, Andre and Dante, and a maltipoo named Milou. Email her at dolores@greenlivingaz.com.


  1. I take my reusable cup with me everywhere, everyday. If I forget it, then I only drink out of water fountains or reusable cups. Period. Bonus, I have learned where most of the fountains/refill stations are located on our campus and this system actually has helped me remember my cup waaaaaaay more often. (It’s a weird psychological trick I think.)


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