Bottled water is a convenience, for sure. But the cost of that convenience has become insupportable. From the health concerns to environmental damage, consumption of plastic water bottles it taking a terrible toll.
And that doesn’t even include the unconscionable marketing practices by major manufacturers of packaged water. These brands take a resource that is readily available (yet shockingly finite) and put it into an unsustainable container before selling it at 2,000 times their cost.
The water itself picks up chemicals from the plastic, and the plastic then ends up in landfills or the ocean where it gets eaten by wildlife.
Reusable water bottles are not quite so convenient, but you really must start using them! Following are seven frightening reasons why.
1. Plastic Leaches Into The Water
Plastics are used in every stage of food production and consumption, and are very difficult to avoid entirely. However, it is important to try to minimize your exposure by using glass or stainless steel water bottles instead. There are many different types of plastic, but all are known to leach chemicals into any food they touch.
Some of these chemicals are known carcinogens, such as BPA, and some are deadly in large doses, like antimony. Other chemicals commonly used in plastic need further study to determine their full health consequences, but at this time there is no known “safe” plastic.
2. It Isn’t Cleaner Than Tap Water And Is Certainly Less Regulated
Water industry statistics reveal that more than 33% of all bottled waters violate industry standards for cleanliness. It’s easy to get away with because the regulating body, the FDA, has only a few people monitoring the entire industry. The EPA, which monitors tap water, has many times more people overseeing those issues.
But perhaps there is some crossover between the EPA and the FDA in this industry, because nearly 1/3 of all bottled water comes from municipal taps across the country. It is literally tap water, yet is deceptively packaged in bottles with labels featuring mountain streams and glacial lakes.
3. It Steals Funding From Tap Water
No matter how much bottled water you drink, you’d never give up running water at home, would you? So the care of that water infrastructure is critically important. Sadly, tap water is currently underfunded by billions of dollars. That means that important infrastructure upgrades are simply not happening.
Bottled water companies use that fact to scare people into thinking that their water is not clean and bottled is safer. In the meantime, the money for infrastructure is instead being spent on dealing with the masses of discarded water bottles making their way into our water streams!
4. Not Enough Are Recycled
The number of plastic bottles recycled in the U.S. has increased every year since 1990. That sounds like good news, right? It’s not when you consider that the actual recycling rate for plastic bottles has remained steady all that time at 27%. Part of the problem is sheer laziness, but many people live in areas where plastic recycling facilities do not exist.
Even when plastic is recycled, it can only be done once or twice before the plastic is “downcycled” into something else. Examples of uses for downcycled plastic include fleece clothing or artificial lumber, and it is great that we can use these materials.
However, most downcycled items are not themselves recyclable. And in any case, up to 4 billion plastic bottles end up in our waste stream every year.
5. Manufacturing Wastes A Ton Of Resources
Plastic is made in large part from oil. Plus it takes oil to bottle the water, ship it, and chill it. All told, 17 million barrels of oil are used to produce water bottles each year.
Manufacturing also hastens global warming, with each bottle responsible for 120 grams of greenhouse gases. Finally, it takes the equivalent of three bottles of water to make and distribute just one of them! It is a wasteful proposition all around.
6. The Fleecing Of Consumers
It is quite the trick by the producers of bottled water to convince Americans to buy half a billion units of the stuff every week, all while water flows extremely cheaply from faucets in every home and public space.
They did it through a process of “manufactured demand” that subtly convinces us that not buying a product represents a personal failure. That plus deceptive marketing and labeling have allowed massive corporations to rake in billions of dollars on a product consumers simply do not need.
7. Wasted Money
Speaking of corporate profits, experts say that Americans spend $4 billion every year on bottled water. To get to that figure, consumers are paying an average of $2 per bottle on something that cost the manufacturer just $.25. This is all in the name of convenience.
How hard is it really to get a reusable water bottle or glass from the cupboard and fill it from the tap? Is the time you save truly worth the 4,000% markup? Add in the cost of managing the trash, doing the recycling, and treating health conditions exacerbated by consuming chemicals leached from plastic, and it looks like a really bad deal.
Even after presenting 7 excellent reasons to quit buying bottled water, we still haven’t mentioned one of the most important – it doesn’t taste good! Some people swear by the superior flavor of their bottled H20, but those products lose time and time again in blind taste tests against tap water in many municipalities.
By the time you drink bottled water, it has likely been sitting in its plastic receptacle for quite some time, alternately warming and cooling depending on where it is in the bottling/shipping/stocking process. Once opened, it doesn’t take long for the taste of leached plastic to become noticeable.
Do yourself and your planet a favor by purchasing a few stainless steel water bottles. If you really don’t like the taste of your tap water – fair enough, it does vary quite a bit city to city – invest in a water filtration pitcher or tap attachment. You will still save quite a bit over buying those pricy and wasteful bottles.