Published on April 15th, 2013 | by Andrea Bertoli
10 Reasons you Should Avoid Bottled Water
Bottled water is nothing short of an ecological disaster. Taking a readily available resource and placing it in an unsustainable container turns it into an expensive commodity which sells at 2,000 times the cost, all the while supporting corporations rather than our own watershed. And yet so many of us rely on bottled water for our hydration. But here are 10 awesome reasons why you should avoid bottled water.
1. Plastic is not good for drinking. Most plastics leach chemicals into our liquids; drinking bottled water everyday increases our chance of chemical exposure. Ban the Bottle notes that, “in research of 132 brands of bottled water from 28 countries [stored] in containers made from polyethylene terephthalate, or PET [found that] the concentration of certain chemicals, such as antimony, increases [over time] because the plastic is leaching chemicals into the water. Antimony is a white metallic element that in small doses can cause nausea, dizziness and depression. In large doses, it can be fatal. Antimony is similar chemically to lead. It is also a potentially toxic trace element.” We recommend choosing reusable stainless steel or glass water bottles for refilling instead of plastic to keep exposure to plastic chemicals low.
2. Bottled Water is not cleaner than tap water. In a great episode of Penn & Teller’s short lived (but uproariously funny) show, Bullshit!, they say that over 33% of all bottled water violated industry standards for cleanliness. And Annie Leonard says in The Story of Bottled Water that in many ways bottled water is LESS regulated than tap water. The EPA has many people working on tap water issues, while the FDA (which regulates our bottled water) has only a few monitoring the entire industry! Also, never be fooled by claims of organic-ness either– there is no such thing as ‘organic’ water.
3. Lack of funding for tap water. According to The Story of Bottled Water, tap water is underfunded by billions of dollars, meaning that our water infrastructure is missing out on upgrades– and allowing the soda companies to say our water is unclean! But this money is often there in the budget– it’s just being spent on dealing with all those plastic water bottles in the waste stream! If you are seriously concerned about the quality of drinking water in your area, then purchase a filter that can help eliminate chemicals often found in tap water: atrazine, chlorine, and more. Invest in a water purification system for your office and your home to keep the plastic down and the hydration high.
4. Waste of all resources. Not only is plastic made from oil, it takes oil to bottle, transport, chill and ship. According to Back to the Tap, “the amount of oil we use to produce water bottles each year (17 million barrels) could fuel over 1,000,000 cars for an entire year.” And more fun facts from Back to the Tap:
- Imagine a disposable water bottle ¼ full of petroleum: this is how much petroleum it takes to make and distribute a single plastic bottle of water.
- It takes THREE bottles of water to make and distribute ONE disposable plastic bottle of water.
- 120 grams of greenhouse gases are generated by a single disposable plastic bottle of water.
5. Lack of recycling. According to Ban the Bottle, “Although the amount of plastic bottles recycled in the U.S. has grown every year since 1990, the actual recycling rate remains steady at around 27 percent.” And what if you live in an area that doesn’t have basic recycling facilities? Whether the facilities exist or not, 4 billion bottles end up in our waste stream each year. That’s A LOT of unnecessary plastic.
6. Corporate Sponsorship. When soda companies realized that their market was limited, they jumped on the bottled water bandwagon to continue to increase their sales. How did they convince us to purchase something that is essentially free? The Story of Bottled Water has a great discussion about ‘manufactured demand,’ which tells us we are failures as humans if we don’t buy their products. Why support distant, unhealthy corporations when you could support your local government?
7. The Cost. Americans spend about 4 billion dollars on bottled water in one year, and many figures state that bottled water is about 2,000 times cost of tap water. How many sustainable goods and services could be purchased with that amount of money?
8. Taste: Bottled water continually loses taste tests against tap water in many localities. Why– probably because it’s been sitting in a chemically produced plastic container for an excessively long time!
9. Convenience. This is the number one reason cited by consumers as to why they purchase bottled water. But really, is bottled water that much more convenient? We probably all live in houses with water faucets, and work in offices with access to a bathroom, if not a kitchen. How difficult is it to simply get up and walk to the bathroom or kitchen? For those of you that complain that it’s too hard to remember a reusable water bottle or a mug, simply keep one at each location. I am notoriously forgetful, so I keep a bottle in my car and in my offices, so I always have something to fill up with water.
10. Buying into the Lie. Nearly 1/3 of all bottled water comes from municipal taps across the country, which is then shipped across the country and across the world (see stats above for oil usage!). Many companies have been cited for misleading consumers with their labels featuring mountain streams and glacial lakes, when in fact the water come from tap water in various states. Even worse, sometimes the water is treated, sometimes it’s not. CRAZINESS, right?