The good, the bad and the ugly
Drinking bottled water is so convenient: it is easy to grab and go, it can be found just about everywhere, it can be a way to keep track of how much you drink each day, and it tastes clean and delicious. With so many great reasons to reach for that bottle, it is easy to forget the serious reasons to actually stay away from it. Not only does bottled water have serious environmental implications, it can also have a negative impact on your health.
Six reasons to avoid buying and drinking bottled water:
1. Buying bottled water is expensive! Really expensive! On average, tap water costs about 0.0015 per gallon. Breaking down the cost of a water filter, the price increases to about .31 per gallon. Bottled water ranges in price from .89-8.26 per gallon. The price difference is relative to the amount of water being purchased. When comparing these prices to tap water, bottled water is a huge market. Annually, American’s spend 61 billion dollars on bottled water, which equals 8.6 billion gallons of water per year.
2. It comes in the lowest quality plastic bottles. More and more people are becoming aware of the toxins in plastic. So much so, that most food containers are now being made BPA free, yet people don’t seem to make the connection to plastic water bottles. Aside from the aforementioned BPA, there are approximately 24,000 other dangerous chemicals in plastic that should be avoided. Companies that bottle water want to spend their money on bottling water, advertising, and paychecks. They don’t want to “waste” money on improving the quality of the plastic used to make the bottles. Unfortunately, time and temperature play a role in how much of these chemicals leech into the actual water. There is no telling how long bottled water sits in hot storage areas and delivery trucks. Even just leaving a bottle of water in a hot car for a few hours can lead to high amounts of endocrine disrupting chemicals in each sip. (More on endocrine disruptors later.) In general, glass and stainless steel are always better options.
3. Lower quality than tap water. Forty percent of bottled water comes from municipal water sources. In other words, it is tap water. With that being said, tap water is closely monitored for quality within each municipality that pulls from that water source. Bottled water, which is owned by private companies, is tested for quality privately and at much lower standards. Even more unreliable, bottled water companies are not required to release their findings. Independent researchers have looked into what is in bottled water. 38 different contaminants were consistently found, such as bacteria, cancer causing agents, fertilizer, pharmaceuticals, industrial chemicals, caffeine, heavy metals, and radioactive isotopes. These chemicals are also found in the low quality plastics used for the bottles, and are known endocrine disruptors. The endocrine system is responsible for many hormones and chemicals that help different parts of the body communicate. When these hormones are out of balance or blocked, which can happen when endocrine disruptors enter the body, myriad health issues can ensue, including fertility issues, reproductive system diseases, different types of cancer, as well as pregnancy complications.
4. Bottling water uses a ton of resources. It takes 17 million barrels of oil per year just to make the plastic bottles. Bottling 20 ounces uses 60 ounces of water. After the plastic bottles have been made and filled, they have to be shipped all over the country, as well as internationally. This uses even more oil and resources.
5. Creates more waste. Only 1 in 5 plastic bottles are actually recycled. Most end up in the landfills, where it takes 10,000 years to be broken down. The bottles that are recycled use additional resources for the recycling process and create lower quality plastic out of already low quality material. Cardboard and aluminum have the most success in the recycling process but when dealing with plastic, reducing is superior to recycling.
6. Bottling water takes water from others. Privately owned water bottling companies don’t have to share where their water actually comes from. They make consumers think water is coming from natural springs and aquifers that aren’t needed by those who live in the area. There are a number of companies that bottle water found in California, which has been in a major drought for years. Large companies, such as Nestle, mine water from small towns. There is nothing different about this water than what comes out of the taps of those who live in that area.
How to avoid buying bottled water:
Invest in a good quality water filter and reusable water bottles.
Plan ahead so you don’t find yourself out for the day without any water.
Reinforce your bottled water knowledge by watching “Tapped”.
Endocrine Disruptors. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2017, from https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm
Harmful Chemicals Found in Bottled Water. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2017, from http://www.ewg.org/news/news-releases/2008/10/15/harmful-chemicals-found-bottled-water
Nestle continues to sell bottled water sourced from California despite record drought — RT America. (n.d.). Retrieved October 2, 2017, from https://www.rt.com/usa/172764-nestle-california-bottling-plant/
The True Ingredients of Bottled Water | Ban the Bottle. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2017, from https://www.banthebottle.net/articles/the-true-ingredients-of-bottled-water/
Tran, rew B., & Staff, A. C. / G. (n.d.). Where does bottled water come from? Retrieved October 2, 2017, from http://www.boston.com/yourtown/specials/water/bottled_water_sources/
wpadmin. (2014, March 6). Bottled Water Pros and Cons. Retrieved September 30, 2017, from https://healthresearchfunding.org/bottled-water-pros-cons/