This 8-minute video will make you think twice before buying bottled water.
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Natural Resources Defense Council

When someone asks if you want bottled or tap water, which do you choose?

It seems like an innocuous decision — just a matter of preference. But there's actually a lot riding on that choice, according to " The Story of Bottled Water," an eight-minute video that's drawn millions of views since it was posted in 2010.


Images by Raphael Schön/Flickr and Olli Niemitalo/Wikimedia Commons.

A 2008 Nestlé advertisement in Canada infamously read, "Bottled water is the most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world."

The bold claim by the world's largest bottled water company drew the ire of environmentalists across Canada. Nestlé never proved the claim, but they sent it to print, so it must have been true, right?

Well, as "The Story of Bottled Water" notes, the energy in the oil it takes to make the plastic water bottles sold every year in the U.S. could fuel a million cars.

All GIFs from The Story of Stuff Project/YouTube.

The Pacific Institute, a water policy think tank, estimated that in 2006, bottled water production required 17 million barrels of oil and sent 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to record high global temperatures.

Since when was it "environmentally responsible" to burn huge volumes of fossil fuels?

But bottled water companies don't stop burning fossil fuels with production. There's also the fuel involved in shipping.

Michael Warhurst, who campaigned against bottled water with Friends of the Earth, a nonprofit conservation group, says bottled water transportation makes an already bad situation worse:

"It is another product we do not need. Bottled water companies are wasting resources and exacerbating climate change. Transport is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, and transporting water adds to that."

It's tough to know exactly how much fuel is used for shipping bottled water, but with the industry showing consistent growth, it's safe to bet its fuel needs are, too.

Bottled water also takes a toll on the global climate long after it quenches our thirst.

Up to 80% of empty water bottles end up in landfills, where waste decomposes over time, releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas. According to the EPA, landfills are the third largest source of methane emissions in the U.S.

Discarded plastic bottles that don't meet land or sea are sometimes burned in incinerators that release more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.


Bottom line: Nestlé was wrong.

There's no known statement on whether Nestlé woke up to the fallacy of their claims, but it is clear bottled water is far from "the most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world." And we'd all be doing the Earth a favor by avoiding it like a planet-warming plague.

NOTE: Though we reached out to Nestlé Waters North America to see if the company's perspective has shifted on the environmental impacts of bottled water, they declined to comment and instead pointed us to their sustainability page.

    Watch "The Story of Bottled Water" to learn more:

    Want to be a part of the solution? Here are a few ways to get involved:

    1. Don't buy bottled water. Get a reusable water bottle. The savings will add up.
    2. Rally your schools, workplaces, and communities to ban bottled water and other bottled beverages.
    3. Demand that your city, state, and federal governments invest in better water and recycling infrastructure — especially when it comes to how it interacts with fossil fuels.
    4. Sign this petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council to tell our world leaders to act now on climate change.

    "Thank you in advance!" — Earth

    Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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    In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

    "Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

    "Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

    Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

    "Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

    Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

    Amita Swadhin

    "Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

    "Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

    This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

    "My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

    What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

    "I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

    "I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

    "These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

    Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

    "Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

    So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

    "This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

    In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

    When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

    While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

    For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

    "I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

    To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

    This article originally appeared on 11.21.16


    Photographer Katie Joy Crawford had been battling anxiety for 10 years when she decided to face it straight on by turning the camera lens on herself.

    In 2015, Upworthy shared Crawford's self-portraits and our readers responded with tons of empathy. One person said, "What a wonderful way to express what words cannot." Another reader added, "I think she hit the nail right on the head. It's like a constant battle with yourself. I often feel my emotions battling each other."

    So we wanted to go back and talk to the photographer directly about this soul-baring project.

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    When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

    Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

    "If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

    Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

    "The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

    That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."