Single use plastic water bottles are ubiquitous. You can’t turn your head without seeing one floating down a stream, blown to the side of the road, or mangled in the kelp beds of the ocean. With Americans going through about 50 billion of them a year they are the modern-day curse.
As with so many conveniences in our lives, we often don’t stop to think about the impact our daily habits have on our environment. But worse than that, the bottled water industry has folks believing that they are drinking a superior product, and that it’s worth the investment they lay down each year.
With so much confusion and misinformation out there on the topic, we decided to break it down in to 3 main categories: Water quality. Environmental impact. Cost.
You might want to re-think your drinking habits after reading this…
Contrary to what the bottled water industry’s marketing efforts might tell you, bottled water is NOT better quality than tap water. Perversely, the opposite is often the case! In the U.S., the Safe Drinking Water Act administered by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) means that municipal tap water has to be tested on a regular basis for purity and contaminants, and stringent standards need to be met before the water is delivered to your home. Reports are sent to users periodically and you can find out your local water quality at any time.
Bottled water, on the other hand, deals with no such accountability and, when randomly tested, has often been shown to contain far more contaminants than would be allowed in tap water.
But what about the origin of the water, you might ask? That pristine stream on the bottle label looks so inviting… Well, turns out what’s in the bottle is often nothing more than filtered municipal tap water (Aquafina and Dasani are popular examples of this). Doesn’t that add insult to injury?!
Now let’s stop for a minute to think about how that seemingly innocuous plastic bottle comes to life… A mammoth amount of energy in the way of fossil fuels and water are used each year just to produce and transport all the single use plastic water bottles we use – between 32 and 54 million barrels of oil! In layman’s terms, that’s enough to fuel about 1.5 million cars a year.
But then there’s the after-life. It’s estimated that over 75% don’t get recycled, but instead end up in landfills leaching chemicals in to watersheds and soil, or, worse still, on our beaches, in our rivers, and everywhere else imaginable. Those that do get recycled are often shipped off to other countries where they become another nation’s problem, continuing the pollution as they travel on.
The bottom line: Plastic may never fully de-compose, meaning a few swigs of water can unwittingly leave a lasting footprint on our planet.
If you’ve ever felt like you’re being ripped off when shopping, then the math on single use plastic water bottles will seem like daylight robbery.
It costs from 240 to over 10,000 times more per gallon to buy bottled water than it costs for tap water. A reusable water bottle pays for itself in a handful of refills, but the typical family running bottled water will be paying over $1000 a year for their habit. How did we get to the place where so many of us are willing to pay more per gallon than the price of oil for something we get delivered almost free?
While we could talk all day about why our addiction to single use plastic water bottles is misguided, shockingly expensive and environmentally disastrous, we hope that this taster has been enough to whet your palate to go turn on the tap, fill up your reusable bottle, and spend those dollars on your next adventure instead!
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