I try not to eco-judge people. But recently, I’ve been silently judging people at the grocery store with cases of water at the bottom of their cart. And there are a few friends of mine who I’ve thought about lecturing, but I don’t because I know there is no better way to turn someone off than to lecture.
Still, if one of my friends asked me about my views on bottled water, I’d be happy to tell them they should stop buying them. Here’s why.
- Bottled water costs a ridiculous amount of money. According to Food & Water Watch, the national average cost for a gallon of tap water in the U.S. is .002 cents. The national average cost for a gallon of bottled water is anywhere from .89 cents to $8.26 per gallon.
Even at it’s least expensive, bottled water is 224% more expensive than tap. I can’t think of a single other item the average American would pay 224% more for when it was unnecessary, can you?
- The quality of bottled water is rarely any better than the quality of most tap water. In fact, a report released from the Environmental Working Group found an average of 8 toxic contaminants in each of the ten brands of bottled water it tested.
- The environmental impact of creating plastic bottles is immense. There are varying statistics on the exact impact, but Food and Water Watch estimates that it takes 47 million barrels of oil to make the plastic bottles necessary for all the bottled water Americans drink. It also uses about 5 times the amount of water in the bottle to create the bottle.
- The environmental impact of shipping the bottled water is also immense. Water from the U.S. is bottled and shipped all over the world. Water from other parts of the world is bottled and shipped to the U.S. It causes a lot of pollution and uses a lot of fuel.
- A very small percentage of plastic water bottles ever get recycled. According to the Container Recycling Institute “more than 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills and incinerators every day – a total of about 22 billion last year.”
I recently received an e-mail from a representative of International Bottled Water Association trying to convince me to stop writing about the problems with bottled water. In it, the representative said that plastic bottles only account for 1/3 of 1% of all the trash in landfills, and eliminating that wouldn’t help the environment much. So in my mind, I picture all of the trash in the world separated into 300 equal piles. One of those piles is made of up solely of plastic bottles. I’m picturing an enormous pile, that if eliminated would probably help the environmental a good deal.
- Drinking tap water can help break the use it once and dispose of it mind set. We have a very disposable society. Taking care of things and reusing them takes effort. It’s easy to grab a bottle of water, drink it, and then throw it in the trash. It’s hard to grab a glass or reusable bottle, fill it with water, drink it and then wash it. Oh, wait, that’s not hard at all. Up until about 20 years ago people did it all the time and it didn’t ruin their lives at all. Starting with breaking the disposable bottled water habit can help lead to breaking the disposable plate habit and the disposable napkin habit and the disposable…. habit.
- Reusable bottles are hip (just take a look at this Make Love Not Landfill Sigg bottle). Trust me when I tell you that I’m not the only silently judging you when you have bottled water in your hand. You want to be hip, right?
Okay, so maybe #7 isn’t the most compelling reason to drink tap water, but #’s 1-6 should be. You don’t really need the hip reusable bottle to drink tap water. Just drinking tap water will make you hip. A glass works just fine and so does an inexpensive reusable #5 plastic water bottle that can be purchased for $3-$4 at the grocery store. While some people stay away from plastic altogether, the #5’s are generally considered the safest of all the plastic and as long as they are taken care of properly, not left out in the sun, and not put in the microwave, there is little danger in them.
Why not choose to be hip for just one week? Make a commitment to not buy or drink bottled water for just 7 days and see how it goes.
Image courtesy of flickr.