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The Role Of Bottled Water In Our Environment

Updated on June 18, 2012

With societies trend towards a healthier life style, it is not surprising that the topic of water consumption is front and center.

We all know that we need to drink plenty of water to be healthy. Most of us don't drink nearly enough, while others are to the point of being fanatical about their water.

Beverage companies have taken advantage of this increased demand by providing a variety of bottled water alternatives. They promote different types of purification processes, additives and sources as their 'healthy' selling features - and people are falling for it.

Bottled water has its place. It should be used as part of an emergency kit or in situations where potable water is temporarily unavailable. However, using bottled water in an everyday, household situation should be viewed as unacceptable.

It takes water to make bottled water - and lots of it. When a beverage company starts pumping massive amounts of water from an aquifer the effects on the surrounding environment - that relies on that water for survival - can be severe. It could even create a drought like situation for the 'down stream' communities.

The removal of natural water from the environment is just part of the bottled water ripple effect. You also need to consider the containers and the pollution directly related to the transportation of the bottled water.

Most of the water that is bottled is put into plastic containers. Plastic is a petroleum-based product. The procedure commonly used to produce the plastic used in the water bottles produces pollutants - some of which inevitably escape into the environment.

If every empty plastic water beverage container was recycled then a case could possibly be made for the sustainability of plastic bottles. However, less than a quarter of plastic water bottles actually make it to the recycling depots. Most are simply thrown into the trash where they sit in landfills - for thousands of years before they decompose.

Whether bottled water is actually healthier for you than common, treated tap water is a topic better suited to another post. I will say though, that both sides have strong arguments.

For the average homeowner however, there are alternatives to bottled water that are more environmentally friendly.

· Tap water. In an urban setting tap water must meet strict health regulations. It is tested regularly and should an incident occur people are notified immediately.

· Reverse osmosis, filtration or distillation. Affordable water purification systems are available for your home. They range from filters you put on a tap to whole systems that will store several gallons of purified water at a time.

· Reduce, reuse, recycle. If you do have to purchase bottled water consider purchasing one large bottle instead of three small ones. Carry the empty bottle with you and refill it at public dispensers. When you are done with the bottle, recycle it.

· Canteen - also known as your own personal water bottle. Designer water bottles are available everywhere. Purchase several and keep one with you. Fill it up at home or at a public water dispenser.

There are alternatives to bottled water. While you may not be able to totally avoid purchasing bottled water, you can do it in an environmentally responsible manner.


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