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Author Topic: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?  (Read 28542 times)

Offline pirunner

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Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« on: 03/10/2007 23:51:49 »
I am very big on recycling. I think that it's such an easy way to help out the environment. Plastic water bottles are probably my biggest irk. I think they are so pointless. No matter where I go, I always carry water with me. But I use a REUSABLE bottle. It's stronger, bigger, and possibly even more aesthetically pleasing (if that matters). I was recently in California when the law banning bottled water was passed. WHY can't other states (or countries) do this as well??? Has anyone else tried?
« Last Edit: 25/03/2008 05:44:49 by Karen W. »


 

Offline Karen W.

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #1 on: 04/10/2007 00:22:25 »
I live in california exactly what law are you talking about where they have banned bottled water in California??? We buy bottled water every day no problem glass and plastic bottles..
 

Offline pirunner

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #2 on: 04/10/2007 01:09:57 »
http://www.emagazine.com/view/?3861

Sorry..bit of misinformation. The ban is actually only in San Francisco (where I was). Check out the link.
 

Offline Karen W.

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #3 on: 04/10/2007 01:42:24 »
thanks!
 

Offline Karen W.

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #4 on: 04/10/2007 01:49:28 »
This ban only applies to government and local government agencies who supply water to their working force. It does not constrict or stop private citizens from buying bottled water of their choice in their own homes etc. They made the move because they thought it would be setting a great example to all the residents in an effort to promote less waste in our environment, and aid in making a healthier place for us to live!

This is only Government employees and city departments that this effects Not Personal use!
 

another_someone

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #5 on: 04/10/2007 05:42:12 »
Is bottled water really such a waste?

I do not doubt that plastic bottles cost (by whatever measure of cost you wish to judge), but so does any other form of delivery of water (you think that pumping water through pipes is cost free - including maintenance of pipes, and chlorination of water, etc.?).

I would also ask - do you drink nothing but water?  Would you think it better that wine, bear, soft drinks, etc. should all be piped into everybody's home?  Water is just another drink (nobody expects to buy bottled bath water - that they take through the pipes).
 

Offline Karen W.

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #6 on: 04/10/2007 07:11:15 »
 I don't think so I am with you. I keep bottled water handy.. you just never know when you might need it. I have a full case in my trunk that I rotate out and drink and replace with another case all the time. we need water weather its to drink or flush a toilet in a emergency. It is great to have around!
 

Offline Alandriel

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #7 on: 05/10/2007 17:02:28 »
I do think bottled water is a waste....IF you live in the developed world where tap water is of good quality and where filters of whatever description can be easily installed if so desired.
In other parts of the world however, where clean water is not always easily accessible there is a need for bottled water - but that is not necessarily under discussion and throws up it's own set of problems.

What really gets me going though is this whole issue of imported bottled water from ever more 'exotic' places. I think the worst I've ever seen was bottled water imported from Polynesia or then there are the countless crates I see getting unloaded imported from the Gulf region (!!!!! of all places.....)

If you're using bottled water, at least try and get something local - which is often neigh impossible I know and hence I fill my handbag re-usable bottle from the tap (with a filter)  :)
« Last Edit: 05/10/2007 17:06:59 by Alandriel »
 

another_someone

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #8 on: 05/10/2007 22:01:46 »
I do think bottled water is a waste....IF you live in the developed world where tap water is of good quality and where filters of whatever description can be easily installed if so desired.


Why is bottled water more of a waste than drinking coco cola.

I prefer the taste of bottled water, so I drink it instead of drinking coco cola.  Would it really be better if I drunk another soft drink, or an alcoholic drink, because that would somehow better justify the use of a bottle?

I don't happen to like the taste of the tap water around here (there are places I have holidayed in where I would willingly drink the tap water - but not here).  You can argue till the cows come home that tap water is as healthy as any other water, and I could just as well argue that tap water is probably healthier than coco-cola, but at the end of the day, it is about taste.

What really gets me going though is this whole issue of imported bottled water from ever more 'exotic' places. I think the worst I've ever seen was bottled water imported from Polynesia or then there are the countless crates I see getting unloaded imported from the Gulf region (!!!!! of all places.....)

Somehow I do find it difficult to contemplate importing water from the gulf (although to be fair, I've never tried their water); but as for polynesia (I have heard about Fijian water - I am not sure if that is what you are talking about), at the end of the day, it is difficult to argue that we should not import things from Fiji because of the transport costs, because to do so would be to deny the Fijians an income to live on (the Gulf states probably have enough alternative sources of income that the argument would probably not work as well there).
 

Offline pirunner

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #9 on: 06/10/2007 00:43:55 »
I do think bottled water is a waste....IF you live in the developed world where tap water is of good quality and where filters of whatever description can be easily installed if so desired.

This is exactly what I'm trying to get at. I can understand your interest in bottled water IF you have bad tap water. But if your tap water is fine, then I don't see any reason to buy bottled water. Doing this only pollutes the environment (since the vast majority of people do not recycle their used bottles) and increases out dependence on petroleum.

Is bottled water really such a waste?

I do not doubt that plastic bottles cost (by whatever measure of cost you wish to judge), but so does any other form of delivery of water (you think that pumping water through pipes is cost free - including maintenance of pipes, and chlorination of water, etc.?).

I agree that you ARE paying for the tap water in your house, but I am certain that (at least where I live) this water is cheaper. Furthermore, the infrastructure of supplying water is already in place. Obviously I can not compare the exact data of how much energy is put into pumping water to your home against the energy used to make and package and distribute bottled water (not to mention the petroleum and the costs of cleaning up the litter and picking up the garbage. But, I am sure that tap water is a good deal cheaper.


---------
Moderator: cleaned up the quotes a bit - no changes.
« Last Edit: 06/10/2007 01:32:23 by another_someone »
 

Offline pirunner

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #10 on: 06/10/2007 00:45:15 »
Whoa....sorry about the quotes...I'm still trying to figure out how to do that. My words are the last paragraph in each box.
 

Offline elegantlywasted

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #11 on: 06/10/2007 01:59:49 »
I have to agree with George, I drink bottled water simply because it tastes better. Not to mention I was just informed that my home has lead pipes, so it is indeed safer for me as well.

As for Fijian water - it tastes excellent, promotes their local economy, and I look cool carrying it around (I'm not going to lie, when I splurge on something I get a confidence from it - think Chanel lipstick...) But I digress...

I see absolutley nothing wrong with the general public consuming bottled water. But if I were to find out that my tax money went to buy 2 million dollars in water, I might be a wee bit upset. So good for San Fransisco!
 

Offline Alandriel

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #12 on: 06/10/2007 14:57:35 »
This discussion is blooming – great!  :)
I’m not going to try and get to grips with quotes as I’ll only tie myself into knots so please bear with me (for I’m probably going to do just that anyways…).

Bottled water is no more a waste than drinking cola.

Drinking cola is a total waste if you ask me and with a pH of 2.5 only really good to remove limescale – but then, that’s just opinion (and a bit of fact). Or, as you did another_someone, you can say it’s a matter of taste.

I think though it’s not only a matter of taste but also of conscious choice.

Which rules which – conscious choice over taste or taste over conscious choice, well, I guess that depends on your conscience and awareness.... and a bit on your self control  ;) ;D

The whole case for and against Fijian water (you were of course right,  not Polynesian water as I first mentioned) - well, the argument that it helps their economy is probably right to a certain extent (though I’d really would like to know just who owns the bottling company as such ventures are usually mostly foreign investment and don’t necessarily benefit the locals) and I don’t want to get into the quite possible scenario of depleting already scarce resources in a fragile environment………but is there not something inherently WRONG in the fact of shipping water half way around the world?

To a country (be it the UK or US) that has more than plenty of local resources the proper exploitation of which also furthers their local economies.

Yes, perhaps it is cool to sport Fijian water, it’s a novelty, it’s ‘exotic’ etc. Being able to affort it (pretty bottle and all) can have a certain ‘empowering’ aspects.

But I ask you at what price does that ‘cool’ come?

My conscience says it’s not cool: the carbon footprint is way to sticky, the overall cost too high vs the benefits (of one single local company vs intl./foreign transporter, distributer/importer/exporter/wholesaler/retailer) Of course you can argue that ALL these companies benefit. They sure do – and you pay an exorbitant price for a bottle of water AND we ALL later end up paying for the environmental impact that all this is causing.

No sorry – no go for me.

Having lead pipes is a bummer though and a serious issue. Do yourself, your family and the next generations that enjoy your property a favour and get them replaced, perhaps install additional filters if you need. I think that would be an overall better choice than the short term solution of bottled water – especially if they come from far flung places.

There is a really good article on the national geographic website about the true costs of bottled water. Have a read.
http://green.nationalgeographic.com/environment/going-green/cost-bottled-water.html


 

Offline pirunner

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #13 on: 06/10/2007 22:13:08 »
Awesome link! Thanks Alandriel! Everyone should check this out!

"Not only does bottled water contribute to excessive waste, but it costs us a thousand times more than water from our faucet at home, and it is, in fact, no safer or cleaner."
 

another_someone

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #14 on: 07/10/2007 18:05:29 »
Awesome link! Thanks Alandriel! Everyone should check this out!

"Not only does bottled water contribute to excessive waste, but it costs us a thousand times more than water from our faucet at home, and it is, in fact, no safer or cleaner."

The quote is somewhat meaningless, since it does not give the conditions under which it makes that comparison (supplying piped water to a lone farmhouse at the top of a high hill is very different from supplying piped water to a low lying municipality; and supplying bottled water sourced from a few miles up the road is very different from supplying bottled water from many thousands of miles away).

The health issues mentioned regarding plastic water bottles I would agree with, and would rather that water was supplied in glass bottles, but that would ofcourse also increase the prices.  What is not mentioned is what are the pipes that piped water is supplied in fabricated from.  In the worst case, it may be lead piping, but more commonly these days, it is plastic piping - and I would ask whether we have any evidence that the plastic pipes used to supply water are any better plastics from the health perspective than the plastics used to bottle water?  One also has to ask what all the chemicals put into piped water (whether is be chlorine for sterilisation, or fluoride, or aluminium sulphate used to make the water visually more attractive) is doing in terms of health (yes, fluoride may improve the teeth of children, but what does it do for adults).

Yes, as I mentioned before, there are places I have drunk tap water (usually in mountain resorts where the water is supplied by mountain streams) where I would willingly drink that in preference to bottled water anywhere; but the water that comes out of my taps, I am afraid that is not the case (the article mentions New York tap water, which it suggests in highly regarded - I am not qualified to comment upon that).

Another factor to take into account is the cost of using hard tap water in terms of damage to equipment, which then has to be regularly replaced.  I was having to replace my shower unit every year until I installed a water softener, but that water softener leaves high sodium levels in the water, which makes it less than ideal for human consumption.

But I would still like to know why bottled water in considered unacceptable, but bottled milk, or fruit juices, or alcoholic beverages, are not attacked in the same way.
 

Offline Alandriel

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #15 on: 07/10/2007 18:35:50 »

But I would still like to know why bottled water in considered unacceptable, but bottled milk, or fruit juices, or alcoholic beverages, are not attacked in the same way.

Probably because water is a basic necessity to life, a basic human right even and should be freely available at no or low cost. Milk, fruit juices etc. are extras, non-essentials; maybe that's why opinions can get heated (I know my temperature can rise  ;)).

There's also a good article "Soft drink is purified tap water" by the BBC here
(now withdrawn from the UK but I'm sure there's plenty more similar incidences still active around the world)
Pepsi tried the same article link

... so, are you sure you know what's in the bottles you buy?

« Last Edit: 07/10/2007 18:38:12 by Alandriel »
 

another_someone

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #16 on: 07/10/2007 19:03:46 »
Probably because water is a basic necessity to life, a basic human right even and should be freely available at no or low cost. Milk, fruit juices etc. are extras, non-essentials; maybe that's why opinions can get heated (I know my temperature can rise  ;)).

If, by that, you are implying that the local water board should supply tap water of the same subjective quality as bottled water, and do so free of charge - that I have no problem with that, but it is a very different argument from that suggesting that drinking bottled water is more wrong than drinking bottled fruit juices.

I know that Meg suggested she drank Fijian water because it looked cool - that is ofcourse her prerogative, but I am afraid I don't do 'cool' - I do what I enjoy, and what that looks like to others is their problem, not mine.

There's also a good article "Soft drink is purified tap water" by the BBC here
(now withdrawn from the UK but I'm sure there's plenty more similar incidences still active around the world)
Pepsi tried the same article link

... so, are you sure you know what's in the bottles you buy?

Yes, I remember the furore about the Dasani branded water.  To my mind, I really am not sure what all the fuss is about.

Do I know what's in the bottle (aside from the list of chemicals listed on the side of the bottle) - I can make an educated guess, but one can never know anything with certainty.  My attitude about the Dasani water is that if I liked the taste (which I never got to try), and was happy with the chemical contents listed on the bottle (one issue is that tap water does not even give you any documentation as to what it contains chemically), then that is all I need to know.

As I said, I drink bottled water because I like the taste, and just as there is some tap waters that I would willingly forgo bottled water for, there are also some bottled waters I would not touch - so it is not a case that I will only drink bottled water and never drink tap water, but rather that I like to choose which water I drink, and bottled water gives me a wider choice.
 

Offline pirunner

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #17 on: 07/10/2007 20:31:14 »

But I would still like to know why bottled water in considered unacceptable, but bottled milk, or fruit juices, or alcoholic beverages, are not attacked in the same way.


^^(I hope I did that quote right.)^^

Again, I cannot comment on your personal situation or local quality of water, but I believe that the general reason for this lopsided attack on water is the fact that it is readily available from the tap in your home. While I still would not praise the immense amount of plastic used in bottled anything, I really don't see any problem with, say, buying a bottel of wine, or gallon of Gatorade. I will freely admit that I do drink milk, fruit juice, Gatorade, etc. just as much as the next person (alcohol excluded due to the whole age thing). But, I strive to buy in bulk (i.e. a gallon of Gatorade over a pack of twenty individual bottles) to keep the waste to a minimum, and also recycle everything I can, so as to essential bring the waste to nothing.

I would never try to denounce plastic as a terrible "invention." There is no doubt that plastics allow to do things today that people could not even dream of at a time. That said, however, when people use plastics in excess, and don't recycle, there is significant harm done to the environment. I would love it if I could get Gatorade piped to my home from a central station, but seeing as that will probably never happen, I have no problem with buying it a plastic bottle and then throwing the bottle in my recycle bin when I'm finished.

All that said, to answer your question, I believe that the reason bottled water is especially picked on is because it a relatively new product that has an easily identified alternative option. If tap water did not exist then there would not be such and uproar, as is the case with other products. 
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #18 on: 07/10/2007 21:14:41 »
I think the image problem with bottled water is quite simple. You can't get cola or milk out of the tap so they have to be delivered in bottles (or some such) but you can get perfectly good water out of the tap (at least in most places we are talking about) so there's no justification for the expense and waste associated with bottled water.
Water is water (and the requirements for purity, sterillity etc are often more stringent for tap water).
 

another_someone

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #19 on: 07/10/2007 21:25:00 »

But I would still like to know why bottled water in considered unacceptable, but bottled milk, or fruit juices, or alcoholic beverages, are not attacked in the same way.


^^(I hope I did that quote right.)^^

Quote looks fine to me :)

But, I strive to buy in bulk (i.e. a gallon of Gatorade over a pack of twenty individual bottles) to keep the waste to a minimum, and also recycle everything I can, so as to essential bring the waste to nothing.

I tend to balance the size of container depending on a number of factors.

All things being equal, I will buy the the largest container that I can, but there are a number of constraints that will limit the size of bottle I would buy.

Firstly, there is a limit to what can reasonably be bought (there is sometimes a trade off in that I may travel further to buy a larger bottle, or do less travelling, and buy a smaller bottle at a local shop; but often even at distant shops, there is a significant limit to the size of bottle available.

Secondly, I have limited storage space, so cannot always store a very very large bottle.

Thirdly, although not pertinent to water, but certainly a consideration when I buy something like milk, and that there is a limited lifespan to the product.  I often have to buy smaller packs of things simply to avoid throwing away that portion of the product that is likely to run out of date before it is consumed, and if I open a bottle of milk, or freshly squeezed orange juice, it immediately attracts bacteria, and will often shorten its lifespan when compared to a sealed bottle, thus making more sense to buy two smaller bottles and in order to keep one sealed for longer.

None of these are absolutes, but merely an indication that there are balances I will make, but in the absence of those balancing factors, I will buy the largest container that I can obtain.

I would never try to denounce plastic as a terrible "invention." There is no doubt that plastics allow to do things today that people could not even dream of at a time. That said, however, when people use plastics in excess, and don't recycle, there is significant harm done to the environment. I would love it if I could get Gatorade piped to my home from a central station, but seeing as that will probably never happen, I have no problem with buying it a plastic bottle and then throwing the bottle in my recycle bin when I'm finished.

OK, so like me, if your preferred drink were piped into your home, you would willingly forgo the bottled variety - I have no problems with that.

Now let me ask you - if they piped a different brand of sports drink, rather than Gatorade, would you be willing to forgo your bottled Gatorade because you do have a sports drink on tap, even if maybe not exactly the taste you desire?

As for the threat to the environment of plastics - I do think that is grossly overstated.  I do think there is a problem with poorly disposed plastics (i.e. plastic litter is a problem), but properly disposed plastic is a long term storage of carbon.  The other alternative is incineration, with the recovery of energy - much simpler that trying to separate and purify each type of plastic.

 

another_someone

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #20 on: 07/10/2007 21:30:31 »
I think the image problem with bottled water is quite simple. You can't get cola or milk out of the tap so they have to be delivered in bottles (or some such) but you can get perfectly good water out of the tap (at least in most places we are talking about) so there's no justification for the expense and waste associated with bottled water.
Water is water (and the requirements for purity, sterillity etc are often more stringent for tap water).

But the point is that you certainly can functionally substitute cola with tap water, even if it is a different product.

Water is not water - nobody drinks distilled water, so each water is water+, and that makes each water subtly different.

As for the justification for the expense of bottled water - that is rather like arguing there is no justification for the expense of tourism - but those of choices people make about where they spend their money.  Is it really more expensive (whether in money terms, or in environmental terms) paying for bottled water for a year, or flying 12,000 miles for your annual holiday?
 

Offline pirunner

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #21 on: 07/10/2007 23:47:06 »
Now let me ask you - if they piped a different brand of sports drink, rather than Gatorade, would you be willing to forgo your bottled Gatorade because you do have a sports drink on tap, even if maybe not exactly the taste you desire?

Well, I could really go either way, since I mainly just drink water. I only drink sports drinks every once in a while. I may drink them a bit more if they were piped to my house however.But.... I see your point. I guess I'm just lucky that I have tasty tap water!

I completely agree with your three points on size determination. I try my best to conserve, but common sense always governs.
 

Offline pirunner

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #22 on: 07/10/2007 23:48:06 »
Yeah....I got these quotes down now...My first step on my way away from "Newbie."
 

Offline elegantlywasted

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #23 on: 08/10/2007 01:57:08 »
I'm afraid my comment may have made me seem a bit shallow.
I just want to state (for my own happiness) that I am an avid supporter of sustainable agriculture and despise the idea of buying food from half way around the world when it is available locally. At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, I do not buy fijian water regularily. Its much to expensive, and I agree the imprint left on the environment is too great.
I'm also a realist. As long as these so called "enivronmentaly-friendly" celebrities continue to drink fancy imported waters, I will ocassionally feel the need to be a sheep in the herd and buy something outlandish. And I keep a hold on my sheeplike behaviour. There are far too many people in the world who need to emulate successful people.
Not to mention it costs about 2 dollars for half a litre.
 

lyner

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #24 on: 08/10/2007 18:56:38 »
Quote
I was having to replace my shower unit every year until I installed a water softener, but that water softener leaves high sodium levels in the water, which makes it less than ideal for human consumption.
Probably it is only your kitchen tap that provides you win any significant quantity of water for bodily intake. Just run another pipe to it, by-passing the softener.
You can then use a filter - if your local water is poor tasting.
Quote
Would you think it better that wine, bear, soft drinks, etc. should all be piped into everybody's home?  Water is just another drink (nobody expects to buy bottled bath water - that they take through the pipes).
Water supplies in most of the western world are lumped together - washing and drinking. And nearly everyone (UK at least) has piped water. You are right in your statement about bath water. Perhaps we should only pipe low purity / low cost water to homes and use a different source for drinking and cooking. Local purification might be more efficient.  Carrying a small quantity  for drinking, as passenger  on the bulk of non-drinking clearly makes sense. There is also the point about using your brown waste water rather than pouring it down the drain.  Re-use rather than re-cycling .

The idea of beer on tap at home has its attractions - you would be limited for choice, though and an alcoholic very soon.

btw, there is a clear distinction between drinking bottled water and other bottled stuff in that there is no alternative with fruit juice. You could keep a cow for milk, I suppose.



 

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Re: Should Plastic bottled water be banned?
« Reply #24 on: 08/10/2007 18:56:38 »

 

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