The environmental impacts of bottle water
In 1967, that smug businessman from the film “The Graduate” took Dustin Hoffman’s character aside and declared “I just want to say one word to you, just one word: ‘plastics.’” Ever since that iconic moment, plastic has signified society’s wasteful tendencies and has come to represent our “throwaway culture”.
The prepackaged bottle of water is the epitome of waste.
Plastic bottles are manufactured from non-renewable petroleum and natural gas. Annually, Americans dispose of 29-billion water bottles, requiring 1.5-million barrels of crude oil (enough oil to keep 100,000 cars running for one year), resulting in the release of 2.5-million tons of carbon dioxide. In addition, scientists have found that, over time, plastic bottles can leach chemicals linked to birth defects, miscarriage and prostate cancer into the water.
Transporting the heavy bottled water from the bottling plant, to the warehouse, to the retail outlet, to its place of consumption requires additional fossil fuels.
Ultimately, each bottle of water requires enough oil to fill it a third of the way up! Cumulatively, that’s enough to power 190,000 homes. Adding to the problem, 80% of these water bottles end up in the landfill and take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.
Some people drink bottled water because they think it’s healthier than tap water. Although tragically this may be true in some parts of the world, it is not so in America. In fact, according to Pinellas County Utilities, their No. 1 priority is to assure the public health and safety of our water supply. The county’s water quality standards are measured against standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Florida Department of Environment and the Pinellas County Health Department. The standards require that our drinking water meet or exceed acceptable levels for lead, fertilizer, fuels, pesticides and solvents.
Everyone loves the convenience of bottled water, but when we consider its many negative issues, it becomes a far less appealing alternative. So, as much as possible, let’s stop buying so much expensive bottled water and start drinking low cost, high quality tap water out of safe, stainless steel reusable water bottles.
It may not save the world, but it’s a start.