Buy, Grab, Drink, Trash: Environmental Implications of Bottled Water
by Michael Smith (Veshengro)
A plastic bottle is NOT the problem either. It is the water which is, more often than not, from “public” sources, which means it is but tap water in a bottle.
Buy, grab, drink, trash; this is the life of one bottle of water after a consumer gets their hands on it. Imagine doing that seven days a week, every week for one year. The trash pile that would accrue from this habit would probably fill your entire house.
The United States consumes about 50 billion bottles of water each year. 30 billion of those bottles are thrown out. While consumers drink up, landfills over flow. The accumulation of empty bottles in landfills, oceans, highways, streets and fields is a terror to the environment.
Now add to that amount the bottled water that is being consumed in the UK, in Germany, in Australia and New Zealand and in the rest of the world, and not just the developed one and you end up with one heck of a major problem.
The trash created from plastic bottles is immense and not only does it take up a large portion of landfills, it also can take almost 1000 years to disintegrate. What doesn’t make it into landfills or recycling facilities is tossed out as litter. Currently the Pacific Ocean has a garbage patch estimated to be two times larger than Texas. The patch is made up of everything under the sun and 90 percent of it is plastic.
This patch grows on a daily basis, adding new unnatural elements to the ocean and victimizing marine life. The garbage patch is slowly killing off the animals that used to call that area of the ocean home. Sea turtles, jellyfish, sharks, fish, dolphins and whales are all suffering.
Not only does the trash created by plastic bottles endanger the environment, but they also directly endanger our health. Bisphenol A (BPA) is an industrial chemical in plastics. When you ingest BPA, it acts as an estrogen and endocrine-disruptor making BPA a dangerous chemical if over-consumed.
You would most likely not be able to consume enough BPA from your own plastic water bottle to cause harm. However, as plastic water bottles accumulate as garbage, BPA can leach into the natural water supply. BPA is also contained in the lines of most reusable water bottles that are made of aluminum and there is is in even stronger concentration to the PET bottles. In addition to that BPA is also used in the liners of many beverage cans and the cans of tinned foods.
Most plastic bottles are made of polyethylene terephthalate, PET. PET is made from crude oil and creates toxic emissions at a rate 100 times that of glass. 17 million barrels of oil are used each year to produce bottled water, which is enough to fuel one million cars for a year. It also takes hundreds of gallons of oil to transport and cool the bottles. Emissions like these are at the forefront of the world’s current environmental crisis.
Plastic bottles cause massive amounts of carbon dioxide to be poured into the earth’s atmosphere every single day. Supporting the bottled water industry is costing the environment its life.
This does not mean, whoever, that a good reusable water bottle made from non-BPA containing plastic is, inherently, bad. It is not and there are plastics and there are plastics.
Some bottled water companies claim that their water is purified and from “natural springs.” They want you to believe drinking bottled water is healthier for you and more natural. The truth is, most bottled water actually comes straight from the tap. If it is not from the tap it, in fact, is taken from taken from wells, lakes and wetlands.
Large companies with means to extract water move in and take what they want from natural water sources. Once the water has run dry or almost dry, the company moves on to the next town leaving consumers and farmers with shortages.
Companies then sell that water at steep price to gain profit. They charge almost 10,000 times the cost of tap water. This ultimately damages the environment, leaving no water for wildlife and residents and also runs your bank account dry.
In addition to that tap water falls under a much stricter testing regime than does bottled water, as in “spring water”. While tap water, as with British water companies, is tested at least eight times a day for purity bottled water only requires an occasional testing and having it sit on shelves for weeks and months causes serious problems which you will avoid when using tap.
End your involvement with bottled water.
Buying bottled water only makes bottled water companies happier and more powerful. Supporting the bottled water industry is supporting the destruction of the environment. Use a refillable reusable bottle such as De Dopper (Polypropylene), Aquatina, Ohyo, or a good stainless steel one, such as Green Bottle or Life Bottle.
Full Disclosure Statement: The GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW received no compensation for any component of this article.