A while back I stumbled upon this infographic that summed up the problem I have with bottled water pretty well. Clark is a pretty liberal university that has an active student body that is concerned with environmental and social issues yet throughout my time here, I have seen cases of bottled water hauled into dorms rooms and bottles of water on desks in every class. Hopefully these facts hit home for some people and will take the place of my constant nagging of those I see with bottled water.
I have been lucky and privileged enough to have travel many places in the world from high school trips to France and Italy, to studying abroad in Botswana to spending the most recent holiday in Argentina and Chile. And everywhere I’ve been I have brought my own reusable water bottle and drunken the tap water with no problem whatsoever. I do however recognize that in some places in the world the tap water is not safe to drink, but in the U.S. we are lucky enough to have tap water that is by law clean and safe to drink, sometimes much more so than bottled water. 40% of all bottled water is taken from municipal water sources (tap water), which more often than not can be seen on the label and 22% of tested bottled water brands contained chemical contaminants that exceeded the state health limits (Fast Company). Tap water is also more stringently monitored and tested than bottled water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for regulating tap water, whereas the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). While both of these are federal agencies there are many gaps in the FDA’s regulations as stated by the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC): FDA rules only covers water shipped between states, which is only 30-40% of bottled water, the FDA rules only cover water labeled “spring water,” “mineral water,” “drinking water,” “bottled water,” “purified water,” and “distilled water,” FDA regulations have weaker bacteria rules for bottled water, don’t require treatment to remove or kill bacteria and parasites, and have weaker standards for some chemical contaminants (NRDC).
In addition to bottled water not being safer than tap water, it is also more costly and environmentally harmful. Especially in the Northeast the cost of household water is so cheap most people don’t even consider it, for those that have wells it comes at the cost of a well, whereas for those who have city water the price is still minimal. Compared to bottled water the cost of tap water is 10,000 times less expensive (Fast Company). Every year Americans consume 8.6 billion gallons of bottled water and every year the production of water bottles uses 17 million barrels of oil which is enough to fuel 1 million cars for a year (Fast Company). In addition to oil, it takes 3 times the amount of water to produce the bottle than it does to fill it (Fast Company). Many people don’t see the harm in bottled water because they “always recycle their bottled water,” but in reality only 1 in 5 water bottles are recycled (Fast Company). So not only is producing water bottle consuming large amounts of our natural resources, but it is contributing 3 billion bounds of waste to our landfills that take thousands of years to degrade. So by giving up bottled water not only will you be saving yourself some money, but you will be helping to save energy by requiring fewer plastic water bottles to be produced through such an energy intensive process.
I hope you can see from this information why bottled water tends to bug me so much, not only is it unnecessary, but it has many drawbacks to it as well. So the next time you go to buy a case of bottled water to keep in your refrigerator for convenience, or find yourself out in public and extremely thirsty, but wanting to make the healthy choice, think of investing in a reusable water bottle. Reusable water bottles come in a variety of choices from plastic to aluminum, with different shapes, designs, colors, and mouth pieces and range from around $5-$20. But most of all, they allow you to enjoy a delicious bottle of tap water that you can bring anywhere to quench your thirst, stay healthy, and have your own personalized vessel while doing so.
If you want to check out the infographic follow the link below:
NRDC source: http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/bw/chap4.asp