As you might expect, at Enviro we’re not thrilled with prepackaged bottled water. In many ways bottled water is the antithesis of our commitment to the environment, public health, and sustainability.
There’s no doubt bottled water is popular—America alone consumes nearly 9.7 billion gallons of bottled water a year, a figure that makes the multinational corporations who produce bottled water very happy. A closer look at bottled water, however, indicates not only is the industry environmentally destructive, it’s also overpriced, and nowhere near as healthy as it claims. Here’s five reasons you’ll never want to touch another bottled water product again.
- The Environmental Cost
The bottled water industry produces 1.4 million tons of plastic every year, consuming up to 47 million gallons of oil. This alone seems a gross misuse of resources, but it gets worse. Of the billions of single-use plastic bottles produced, eighty percent are simply thrown away to fill landfills and pollute the environment. Each bottle takes up to 1,000 years to break down, and releases toxic fumes when burned. In comparison, a glass water bottle can be reused multiple times and be completely recycled.
- Plastic Bottles Are Ethically Horrific
Water is necessary for plastic production, and it takes three times as much water to make a single plastic bottle as it does to fill it. For every gallon of package water consumed, three gallons are wasted in production. This is the same water that makes up our planet’s most valuable resource.
The Centers for Disease Production estimates 780 million people worldwide have no access to improved water sources, and 2.5 billion lack access to safe levels of sanitation. It would take $1.13 billion US to solve this horrible situation. Instead, we spend $150 billion a year consuming bottled water from an industry that wastes three times more water than it delivers. Take a moment to let those figures sink in.
- Bottled Water is Expensive Tap Water
Despite the bubbling aquifers and streams depicted on their packaging, up to 25 percent of bottled water comes straight from the tap. Some brands will filter their water, or run it through ultraviolet treatment to kill microorganisms, but many don’t. In most cases, you’re getting water that’s no safer than your tap water, but boy, does it cost more—approximately 1,000 times more than water from your municipality. That estimate includes the cost of filtering tap water at home, by the way. In contrast, you can purchase and install a point of entry water filtration system under $900 and more than make up your investment by no longer buying bottled water.
- No Guarantee of Purity
Because you have no guarantee of bottled water’s point of origin, you can’t be sure how safe it is. A wide range of potential health risks have been found in samples of bottled water, including molds, arsenic, microorganisms (including E. coli bacteria), benzene, phthalates (a possible endocrine disrupter), and trihalomethanes (byproducts of chlorine disinfection linked to higher risk of cancers).
Public awareness led many bottled water companies to halt use of Bisphenol A, or BPA, during bottle production. BPA can mimic estrogen, causes a wide range of health conditions, and has been linked to cancer. The chemicals used as BPA substitutes are also endocrine disrupters, and like BPA, can leach into water over time or when bottles are exposed to heat.
- The FDA May Not Monitor Water Quality
The FDA has firm water quality rules, but a loophole exists that many bottled water companies take full advantage of. Bottled water is exempt from FDA water standards if water is packaged and sold in the same state. If it doesn’t cross state lines, bottled water isn’t overseen by the FDA.
If you have a high quality water filtration system and access to public or well water, you don’t need to drink bottled water. The sooner we realize the impact bottled water has on the environment, our health, and our pocketbooks, the sooner we can send the industry a clear message—we’re not willing to pay for something that we can get for free without savaging the environment or stealing from the thirsty.