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Enough With the Plastic Water Bottles Already

Enough With the Plastic Water Bottles Already

Before I start in on how bad plastic water bottles are let me throw something out there. The folks that this article is intended for are those who already have access to clean drinking water. While single use plastic bottles make no sense, the bottom line is, if you do not have access to adequate drinking water, then you’ve got larger issues at stake and you need to do what is necessary to maintain your health.

Now that that’s taken care of, let’s talk about how ridiculous plastic water bottles are for the rest of us. I must say that I am privileged to have not been brought up on plastic water bottles and as such, have never had to wean myself off of them. Having said that, I’ve never seen their appeal in the first place.

Assuming you have clean water coming into your house like most of the United States does, let’s put this in perspective. Imagine if you will a world where there was a magical system bringing soda, juice and beer directly into your house, each costing you only pennies a gallon. You could turn it on any time you wanted and get clean clear wonderful beverages, and it was like this in every household you knew.

Now imagine that one day, companies started bottling and selling these very same beverages to you for 1,000 times the amount, and that you had to go to the store to buy them and lug them home in cases. Can you see it? Can you see your Uncle Morris heading out to the store for a cold six-pack rather than filling up his mug out of the kitchen wall, and paying 1,000 times as much for it to boot?

Of course not, it’s a ridiculous scenario. Yet for some reason, John Q Public has been convinced that this is the only way to drink water, and furthermore has decided that the water coming into his house is no longer drinkable. The entire thing is a huge waste of money, a huge waste of energy, a huge waste of resources, a huge waste of water and is one of the greatest marketing shams of our time.

So just how bad is bottled water? Let’s look at some statistics.

• This year more than 25 billion single use plastic water bottles will be sold in the United States alone and more than 80 percent of those will end up being disposed of rather than being recycled (that’s 20 billion bottles to the landfill Virginia!).

• Over 1.5 million barrels of oil were used to make the plastic bottles consumed in the US last year–and that doesn’t include the petroleum used to transport them.To put that in perspective, that’s enough petroleum to power 100,000 automobiles for a year!

• Drinking out of bottled water actually wastes water, using up to five times as much, and in a world where many people don’t have adequate drinking water, that’s just wrong.

• Bottled water sold across state lines is not necessarily regulated while tap water is strictly regulated so you have no idea what you are drinking when you pop open a cold one.

• Certain plastics have been shown to leach Biphesenol A, a hormone disruptor. While this is not a problem in all bottled water, who’s to say what scientists will find leaching from plastics down the road.

• While some bottles do end up getting recycled, in reality they are downcycled, being turned into other products leaving most new water bottles to require virgin plastic.

• There is a belief that every adult should drink 8 bottles of water a day, a myth most likely created by water retailers. There is no scientific evidence to prove this and while it is important to stay hydrated, this is akin to saying every adult should eat 8.2 pounds of food a day.

Moving on, let’s tackle two of the biggest reasons I hear from people who use plastic water bottles.

“Plastic water bottles are convenient because they are easy to grab and you can find them anywhere.”

Well, you can’t find them in my house, or a large number of other places where there is drinkable water coming out of the tap. In fact, I’d bet that there are more places with sinks and fountains out there than there are water kiosks, unless of course you’re in Vegas, but that’s another story. Besides, if you are talking about how convenient they are, you need to calculate in the amount of energy it takes to lug them through the store, lug them home, and then the aggravation of stubbing your toe on them late at night as you are trying to get to the kitchen. Compared to turning on the tap, bottled water is much more of a hassle.

“It’s so cheap.”

Not so Mrs. Brown! Let’s say you drink 2 bottles a day 300 days a year. At $1 a bottle that’s $600. Now I can get the same amount of water out of my tap at home for about $3. Add on a filter and that goes up to around $5. But let’s say you can get the bottles for a penny – I’ve still got you beat by $3 (and you can’t find them for a penny). Make sense? Wait, I’m not done yet. I haven’t factored in the amount of money you are paying in taxes for your local landfill and recycling center, the fuel you used to get it to your house, or the hospital bill for fixing that toe.

The end of the story is that as long as you have drinkable water coming into your house, bottled water makes absolutely no sense. If you are drinking it you are not only adding to the destruction of the planet by partaking in something completely unnecessary, but you are filling the coffers of corporations who have convinced you that you need to buy something you already get for practically nothing.

So how ‘bout it? Ready to give up on bottled water?

Dave Chameides is an environmental educator and freelance filmmaker. He writes alternative fuel articles for Edmunds.com and maintains the blogs 365 Days of Trash and Achieving Sustainability. While he is presently saving all of his trash for a year to better understand his environmental impact, his main focus is sustainability through education and believes that with knowledge all things are possible.

Read more: Blogs, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, Sustainable Dave, , , ,

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Dave Chameides

Dave Chameides is a filmmaker and environmental educator. His website and newsletter are designed to inspire thought and dialogue on environmental solutions and revolve around the idea that no one can do everything, but everyone can do something. "Give people the facts, and they'll choose to do the right thing."

49 comments

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11:19AM PST on Feb 20, 2012

Stainless steel water bottle full of filtered tap water.

9:00PM PST on Nov 26, 2011

Now the question is how do we get clean water into our homes along with other drinks? If we do figure this out how do we keep it from getting contaminated?

8:51PM PDT on Oct 3, 2011

Thanks...something to think about

11:30PM PDT on Sep 12, 2011

Now that I have given up soft drinks and bottled water for reasons of human rights and the environment, if I want to carry around a bottle of tap water with me is it safe to do so in a plastic flask or former bottled water container? Otherwise what do I use? I need something light, convenient, reusable and fairly unbreakable. The tap water at work is finally drinkable without boiling and I have helped get rid of the damned bottled water fountains of which we had dozens and were free to use. Naturally I wish to live my life as far as possible according to my principles - so I am also vegan. So it is this availability of drinking water question that bugs me. I remember when a carafe of tap water was automatically placed on tables in restaurants - most of which I can no longer use as a vegan. At work when we have a conference or meeting water supplied comes in large bottled water bottles. Whatever happened to drinking fountains in public parks, etc. (I live in UK.) Don't tell me health & safety banned them!

7:37PM PDT on Jul 6, 2011

i use a stainless steel water bottle and a good filter on my tap. plastic water bottles should be banned. i pick up trash while kayaking and hiking and it's amazing how many i find. and they're so expensive i don't understand why people buy them. how hard is it to fill your water bottle at home from the tap?

1:31PM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

We have a shallow well, and a river in front and behind us, so we, and our well, flood often. That makes our water quality suspect more often than not. My husband lugs glass gallon jugs to work each day and fills them at their filtered fountain. We used plastic jugs for a while, but I was noticing a "taste" to the water, which the glass jugs don't impart. You can really taste it if the water has been sitting in the car in the sun for a while......which should make you wonder what kind of journey the plastic water bottles in the store take.

9:57AM PDT on Jun 7, 2011

Woah thats a powerful video. Thanks for the info.

9:57AM PST on Jan 11, 2011

I'm considering buying a good quality reusable bottle water bottle. I'm extremely clumsy and I always ant to bring water wherever I go, so I basically NEED to own at least once a bottle. Now I just tend to buy a bottle if I've forgotten my own, then I'll throw out the old bottle and use the new one for a while.

As for the recycling issue: in Japan they collect and recycle the bottles and caps separately, it's pretty amazing. But then again Japan collects most things separately to recycle.

9:12AM PDT on May 7, 2010

HEMP as plastic GOOGLE HEMP, GO TO WIKIPIDIA
The basic building block of plastics is cellulose taken from petroleum, but toxic petrochemical compositions are not the only way to derive plastics. Plastics can be derived from plant cellulose, and since hemp is the greatest cellulose producer on Earth (hemp hurds can be 85% cellA recent technological advance with biodegradable plastics made from cornstarch has led to a new material based on hemp. Hemp Plastics (Australia) have sourced partners who have been able to produce a new 100% biodegradable material made entirely from hemp and corn. This new material has unique strength and technical qualities which have yet to be seen before, and this new material can be injection or blow-molded into virtually any shape using existing moulds, including cosmetic containers, Frisbee golf discs, etc.ulose), it only makes sense to make other organics, instead of letting our dumps fill up with refuse.
The possibilities are endless with hemp plastics and resins, and bio-composites. Virtually any shape and purpose can be fulfilled by bio-composite plastics. Hemp plastics are already on the rise, it is only a matter of time before we will see the need to grow hemp in the United States to meet our demands.

12:07AM PDT on Mar 21, 2010

I do want to say that I enjoyed reading this article at first for the tone and of the speaker, was rather amusing.
But I do completely agreed with what the article as well as most of the comments have been saying.
Actually I'm checking out some of the sites people have been mentioning, which is one of my favorite parts about these blogs is that people give so many good resources to further improve on our attempts at a cleaner life

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

All species find those things highly annoying.

You left out cannabis flowers - ummm love them.

Some good ideas if I ever need them!

Certainly this is a rather interesting concept, certainly very different to what we have become used…

Leftover coffee? LOL - but some great ideas thanks!

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