There was a time when bottled water was thought to be one of the best ways to get clean fresh water while quenching our thirst the most natural way possible. However times have changed, and as more and more people become educated on some of the realities of bottled water, they are choosing better and more environmentally friendly ways to go.
What is the Reality Behind Bottled Water?
The reality is that not only is bottled water very expensive when compared to tap water or water filtered at home, the process of manufacturing, distributing, shipping and eventually breaking down the plastic bottles is catastrophic for the environment. To understand the impact of this statement a little clearer, let’s break down the points and explore further.
1. Waste – The amount of waste accumulated from bottled water is astounding. Even though many people are conscious of recycling, it is said that over 80% of plastic bottles end up in landfills. The fact that plastic bottles take such a long time to decay means that a very large amount of all the plastic bottles ever made still exist somewhere out there rotting into the Earth or the ocean and risking the health and lives of marine and wildlife who mistake the plastic for food.
Another waste factor that is not as widely talked about is water waste. It takes 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water. Compared to simply drinking from the tap or filtering your own water at home that means you are wasting 3 times as much water if you choose to buy it bottled. When you think about how many bottles of water are sold all over the world, the waste factor is alarming.
2. Greenhouse Emissions – In order to produce, ship and distribute bottled water around the world, the plastic bottles often have to travel long distances. This creates a lot of unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions. Suddenly that bottle of water does not look so healthy anymore.
3. Crude Oil – Plastic bottles are made from materials derived from crude oil processed in refineries. It takes up to 47 million gallons of oil per year to produce the plastic bottles used for bottled water.
4. Public Water – Although we are very fortunate in North America with the quality and testing of our local water systems there is much debate as to the safety of our tap water. The fact is that water pipes age and not only start to leak but also start to leach new chemicals that are not included in the safety standards. Therefore it is important that attention is not taken away from local water treatment. The fear is that as bottled water companies grow and the privatization of clean fresh water sources increases, less and less attention will be put on local water treatments. Not everyone can afford to buy water, so it is important that water treatment stays a priority and there is always access to clean water.
5. Dried Up Water Sources – As big international corporations continue to buy up groundwater and distribution rights, many of our fresh water sources are being depleted. For more information on how the privatization of fresh water affects the economy and the environment I would highly suggest checking out the documentary film titled ”Thirst”. You can probably imagine that as fresh water becomes harder to find, it will become more and more expensive.
6. Cost – Last but not least is the cost of drinking bottled water. Compared to using an under sink water filter in your home, the cost of bottled water is up to 10 times more. As fresh water becomes harder to find you can expect that cost to increase even further.
There has been debate as to whether bottled water is actually cleaner and safer than drinking tap water. There is a difference of opinion on this topic depending on whom you speak to. My suggestion would be to educate yourself as much as you can, test your local water if you are able to, so you know what you are dealing with, and if the safety of your tap water worries you then look into some type of filtration system. It will save you a lot of money in the long run.
There are a few things you can do to help conquer the bottled water problem and protect the environment. If possible bring your own drinking bottle with you wherever you go so you can fill it with water as needed. If you have a filtration system at home you can fill up from there before you go out. Try and encourage businesses and schools to offer filtered water instead of bottles of water. If you must buy a bottle of water then please do your part to recycle it!
Sam Walker is a freelance writer with a keen interest in the environment and our clean water supply. In his own search for the best under sink water filter, he began researching and reviewing the many sink water filters on the market.