Wash those bottled-water blues away with Riverkeeper's lightweight stainless canteens in festive red, silver, aqua and blue. Sales benefit the non-profit organization, which protects the Hudson River watershed. And it's not just for New Yorkers: As a member of Food and Water's Take Back the Tap (TBTT) campaign, Riverkeeper helps protect all our rights to clean public drinking water.

Why take back the tap? If we don't, private companies may take it away from us. One plastic liter of bottled water takes five liters of water to make; this hidden water cost, known as virtual water, attaches to food and other commodities, from cars to computer chips, that use water in their production. It's a hidden cost because the private sector, including bottled-water companies, gets the water virtually free. At the same time, "It's very important that we say water is not a commodity," Maud Barlow, UN senior adviser on water issues, said in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal. When a price is put on drinking water, which should be provided by the public sector as a service, the poor can be "denied access because they can't pay," Barlow explained.

More reasons to TBTT: Thirty-one billion liters of bottled water are gulped by Americans every year, and 50 million barrels of oil are used to make the plastic bottles, transport and store them, Riverkeeper reports. Instead, give and drink from their compact, ultralight bottle with the slogan, "I Bottle My Own." Plus, of course, it's pure stainless steel and BPA-free. Buy the Riverkeeper bottle here ($20).

Other lightweight stainless bottles can be got from Kleen Kanteen and Bilt (the latter also makes vacuum bottles, as does Guyot). Trade in that leachy Lexan plastic waterbottle for identical-looking, but BPA-free, Tritan polyester from Nalgene or Camelbak

Want to take further action to protect our water resources?

*If you have a favorite, green-sympatico eatery that serves bottled water, take them TBTT's restaurateur's pledge to switch to offering only tap.

*College students, download these tools for de-bottling your campus food service and vendors.

*Get great water conservation tips and use the new personal water calculator from TBTT partner, H20 Conserve.

Makes us thirsty. Odd how one little bottle can say so much.

Story by Mindy Pennybacker. This article originally appeared in Plenty in November 2008. The story was moved to MNN.com.

Copyright Environ Press 2008