Chances are you contribute to the $100 billion (U.S.) spent on bottled water sales each year globally. Admittedly, drinking bottled water instead of tap water makes sense in countries where “Montezuma’s revenge,” a stomach and intestinal infection caused by impure water, is probable, but certainly not in developed countries like Canada where water is screened for dangerous pollutants.
The sale of bottled water has outperformed common drinks like milk, juice and coffee and lies only behind soda and beer. So if bottled water is such a common item, there must be plenty of reasons why it is the best choice for consumption, right?
Actually, the opposite is true. Bottled water has negative effects on the environment, natural resources and your health. Then there is the fact that many bottled water brands are simply just putting tap water in a bottle. That picture of a serene, natural spring is just a marketing ploy. Maybe a loud, unattractive municipal plant is more realistic?
If that isn’t reason enough for you to quit buying bottled water, here are a few more:
To elaborate a bit more on this startling fact, the reality of what many water bottle companies are selling is the same thing you are avoiding out of your faucet. In fact, a four-year review conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found that an estimated 25 percent of bottled water is simply the same water you can get from your kitchen sink. For people who drink bottled water because of the perceived health benefits over tap water, NRDCs researchers concluded that there is no assurance that the water that comes from bottled water is any cleaner, or safer, than water from the tap.
Now that you know your bottled water may just be tap water, how would the knowledge that it could actually be costing you 2,900 times the price of what you could get from the tap? According to an article by National Geographic titled Why Tap Water is Better Than Bottled Water, Columbia Water Center, a company dedicated to tackling water challenges, was referenced due to their extensive research and findings that the high profits of bottle water companies were due to the fact they weren’t really doing anything than repackaging what was already available.
In Toronto, we are a bit better than most at recycling, reusing about 65 percent of the 100 million plastic water bottles we use each year. But the global averages are much worse, resulting in the waste of about 80 percent of the 50 billion plastic water bottles used annually. Some estimates put this waste at about $1 billion per year, waste that ends up in landfills or as pollution in our oceans, rivers and forests.
At the time of this writing, crude oil is selling at less than $60, about 24 pence a liter. At those rates, oil is about 40 percent cheaper than a bottle of Evian mineral water. Throw on the fact that in the U.S. alone it takes more than 1.5 million barrels of oil to fuel the demand for bottled water and you’d probably agree you’re better off burning up your wallet than continuing to buy bottled water.
According to National Geographic, 24 million gallons of oil are required to produce one billion plastic bottles. This means that it takes about one quarter of a plastic water bottle filled with oil to meet the demands to produce that bottle of water. Much of this cost is due to the transportation expenses involved in shipping water. French brands Evian and Volvic export more than half of their water across the globe, and Fijian water travels 12,000 km to reach Toronto. Municipal water, on average, never travels more than 20 km.
Tap water generally contains regulatory standards which limit potentially harmful chemicals from becoming too abundant before it is sent to our homes. One such chemical that is regulated, phthalates, a product that is used in 100s of consumer products to increase the flexibility of plastic, is not regulated in many bottled water brands, if any. Phthalates have been shown to disrupt testosterone and the endocrine system, and can enter plastic water bottles through leaching. In a study referenced by the National Resources Defense Council, it was found that water that had been stored for just 10 weeks contained these potentially harmful chemicals.
Other plastic water bottles may contain bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that is also linked to health issues like heart disease and reproductive problems. Either way, the dangers of leaching are very real and the reality is that water bottle companies rarely are challenged to address these concerns.
Poor water quality, expensive purchasing and production costs, abuse of natural resources, environmental concerns and health risks, these are all the things you are advocating for if you continue to purchase and consume bottled water. Sure, it’s convenient but the harsh realities of what you are really buying and putting into your body don’t justify the convenience.
If you have any concerns with tap water quality, paying too much for bottled water, or its effect on our environment, there is a better way. Consider purchasing a water filter to alleviate all of the risks of supporting bottled water. It really is that simple, choose from a Whole House Water Filter to experience the benefits of filtered water at every tap, or the Under Sink Water Filter to treat water at the kitchen sink, and enjoy an economical filtered water option.
You’ll be doing your part to improve your health, your wallet, and maybe even the world.