Death By Bottled Water: Stop the Cycle, Now and Forever
Fresh water is the single most important natural resource on the planet. It is a finite resource upon which we all rely in order to sustain life. Global warming, drought, and increasingly polluted water systems are rapidly reducing the availability of clean fresh water, and the projected availability in the years to come is one of the most daunting and ominous challenges of our century.
Bottled water epitomizes the wasteful, destructive, unsustainable nature of modern society. The production and consumption of bottled water across the globe is cause for dreadful concern and of dire consequences.
Here are some of the most pressing reasons not to drink bottled water:
Bottling water is wasting water.
It takes three times the amount of water used to make the disposable bottle as it does to fill it! Water is a precious resource. We face water shortages across the globe, yet we are throwing clean water down the drain in order to pay bottled water companies. Much of the bottled water on the market is sourced from drought zones. The following map shows the locations of droughts in the country in relation to water sources for bottled water companies. There is a positive correlation between the drought zones and the bottled water sources.
The drought in the Western United States is not just a problem for the Western United States; it is a global crisis of apocalyptic proportions. While it is The Golden Coast that currently faces the worst of the drought of all the country, everyone is in trouble when it comes to fresh water.Nearly one half of all the produce–fruit, vegetables, and nuts–in The United States comes from California. That’s more than any other state in the nation is contributing. The more we consume, the less there will be for us to live off, in very near future. Food prices are already escalating and will continue to rise to unaffordable rates, as farm land–which uses 80% of the water used by humans in the state–is left to idle in order to conserve some of the much-needed water. Everyone must act to reduce the unsustainable consumption of the earth’s natural resources. Buying seasonal produce is one way to help conserve water.It is true that even greater quantities of water are used for the production of other beverages, as well as food, across the country. But with that being said, there is no reason why Americans should be drinking water from bottles and further depleting water sources that could be used for farming, livestock, and drinking instead of drinking tap water. You will be reducing water by filling your own reusable water bottles yourself!
Bottled water is not as clean as people believe.
Many people consume bottled water based on the belief that is cleaner and safer to drink than tap water, when in fact the opposite is true. Almost half of all bottled water is sourced from the tap: “public water sources.” So, what’s the point?
Moreover, bottled water is less regulated than tap water in the US. Tap water falls under the mandate of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, because it is classified as a food, bottled water falls under the authority of the Food & Drug Administration, which has far weaker regulations than the EAP. Some examples of this include less frequent testing for bacteria, no mandatory violation reports to federal officials, and no federal-level filtration or disinfection requirements. You cannot assume bottled water is better because you’re paying a premium for it; rather, the quality of bottled water varies. Some is treated more than tap water, some is treated less, and some is not even treated at all.
Buy a filter if you think your water tastes weird. As a native of Los Angeles I grew up with hard water that traveled 240 miles from Lake Havasu to get to my faucet. I do not like the taste of my tap water, so I empathize with the lack of desire to drink unpalatable water straight from the tap. But a filtration system can help aerate water that has been sitting in pipes to make it more pleasant. We all need to be responsible, ethical human beings and start carrying around our own reusable bottles.
We’re wasting oil.
17 million barrels of oil are used in the production of disposable water bottles every year. That is in addition to the 50 million barrels of oil used in the transport, pumping, processing, and refrigeration of these bottles. In essence, it is as if 25% of every bottle of water was filled with oil. The production of bottled water requires up to 2,000 times the energy cost of the production of tap water.
The privatization of water is denying basic human rights.
Water is the sustenance of all life. Without water, no single living organism could survive–no plant, no animal, and no human being. It is an atrocity that people all over the world are dying of thirst and water-related disease because they do not have access to clean water, while big corporations like Coca-Cola and Nestle privatize indigenous and rural lands and water sources to steal what’s naturally available to these impoverished communities in order to sell it back to them for a price they cannot afford. Bottled water companies have transformed the natural resource of water from a universal human right to a proprietary commodity.
These private companies destroy the environment and bleed natural resources dry to sell water for a profit. Beyond depletion of resources, these companies devastate land and water sources, as well as the communities themselves. Their unethical and dishonest waste management practices, or lack there of, leaves behind toxic runoff that exasperates the mortality rate caused by illness, dehydration, and starvation. It is our moral obligation to humanity and to the environment to stop the production of bottled water. It is time to turn this fateful phenomenon around and kick these companies out of our land, our water sources, and our markets.&
Bottled water contributes to huge amounts of waste.
Only 1 out of 5 plastic water bottles is recycled, leaving 3 billion pounds of plastic water bottle waste each year. This plastic ends up in our landfills and in our oceans, seas, and other large bodies of water.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a giant gyre of garbage in the North Pacific Ocean that spans the water from the North American West Coast to Japan. The Pacific trash vortex, characterized by extremely high concentrations of plastics, chemical sludge, and other debris, is bounded by the system of circular ocean currents and draws debris into the center of the gyre.The plastics in the patch are not biodegradable. Rather, they undergo photodegeneration, a process by which the sun breaks them down into smaller and smaller pieces, which can be ingested by marine life. Whether ingested or not, plastic waste is the cause of devastation to the wildlife populations around the world.
“Albatrosses mistake plastic resin pellets and disposable lighters for fish eggs and feed them to chicks, which die of starvation or ruptured organs.”
Recycling our plastic water bottles is not enough.
There are only so many “cycles” through which recyclable materials can undergo to be repurposed before it breaks down to refuse. Unlike glass and aluminum, the number of times a plastic can be recycled is limited. How many times a plastic can be recycled, and the quality of the material it is recycled into depends on the type of plastic resin used in the material, as identified by the numbered recycling symbol. When recycled, most plastics are “downcycled,” meaning they are used to make a lower-quality form of plastic. Some hard, durable plastics can be made into products like plastic lumber. The type of plastic comprising disposable water bottles, however, cannot be fully recycled as new water bottles even once and must be downcycled to a product that most likely cannot be recycled again.
Even if everyone in the world were to recycle all of their plastics, it wouldn’t be enough because plastics are a “dead-end” waste stream. Furthermore, the process of recycling plastics is extremely labor and energy intensive, which means we are burning fossil fuels to recycle a product that becomes merely a different type of disposable good. And because the process is so energy intensive, recycling plastic costs more than using virgin plastic resins, thus shrinking the market for recycled plastics.
The best way to minimize the impact of plastics on the environment is not by recycling, but by reducing the use of plastics to begin with. So, stop buying disposable bottles, and start reusing a safe substance, like stainless steel or glass, instead.
These are only a fraction of the reasons to avoid plastic water bottles, and all disposable goods, for that matter. There is no reason any one of us should be buying bottled water at this point. We ALL know the consequences (at least some of them), and we all know that we’re hurting ourselves and every living thing around us on this planet by doing so. Go fulfill your moral and ethical duty as a human being and invest in a reusable, sustainable water bottle.