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Bottled Water, Seriously?

Updated on April 20, 2019
Scott P Davis profile image

Scott is an award-winning professional educator with almost 25 years of experience.

Water Bottle
Water Bottle | Source

We Used to Drink from a Garden Hose

When I was growing up in the 1970's if you had told my friends and I, that someday we would be paying real dollars for water in plastic bottles, we would have simply laughed at you. As a kid, I did not even go in the house to drink water. I just turned on the spigot, grabbed the old green garden water hose, and let it run until it got cold. Then I would hold it up, so it streamed out like a fountain, and I would enjoy drinking my fill. I did this at my house and my friends house. If I was out playing around and got thirsty, we could always grab a garden hose or duck into an open school yard and use a drinking fountain. Water was free, and we stayed hydrated and did not think about cold flasks, or brands of water.

In the USA, the average person drinks about 40 gallons of bottled water per year. People are buying more bottled water than soda, and that may be the only good thing about this. Every year, the world consumes about 200 billion bottles of water. A good number of those bottles get recycled, but plenty end up in the ecosystem. In recent years, the bottle makers, aware of this issue, have been producing water bottles that are far thinner than in the past. This is better for the environment, and it is also a cost effective measure for them, as it reduces the over-all costs.

A family of four purchases about $500 a year in water bottles. The cost per gallon is about $3.00 on average. This is a major expense, and is about the same as what is spent on gasoline for the family car in many households. In the US, about 100,000 bottles are consumed every hour. If only 10% of those end up in the environment, that over 7 million bottles a month ending up in waterways, forests, or the ocean. It will take the average new thin type of bottle 450 years to completely biodegrade and become part of the natural environment once more. That cannot be good for our environment.

Over Twenty Gallons of Water are Needed to Make One Pound of Plastic

Plastic water bottles need water to be produced. It takes more water than the total volume of capacity that the bottle has, to produce it. This means that for every liter of water sold, at least two liters of water were used in the production of this drinking water. This is very inefficient, and is not sustainable over a long period of time. If people want to drink packaged water, than it may be necessary to come up with a more ecologically friendly way of packaging it.

In this case, old technology may be more effective than the modern answer. Reusable glass bottles might be more safe, cost effective, and environmentally friendly than plastic. It does created six times more greenhouse gas and pollution to create a glass bottle than to make a plastic bottle. In the 1970's you would buy quart sized bottles of soda in heavy thick glass, and there was a deposit on the bottles. We would store these bottles in the garage, and every once in a while, fill a shopping cart with them, and return them to the store. These would be cleaned and reused over and over. Some of these bottles were pretty scratched up, so I assume they were used dozens of times, if not more. Doing this with water bottles might be a great way to do things.

Most people who are needing a more portable solution will use a more permanent water bottle, such as a reusable camping jug, or a large adult style drink jug, with a built in suction straw system. This is just for the refills that can be kept at home. Another alternative, to those who feel that tap water is not good enough to drink, would be to get a water filter. These can be simple pitcher that you keep in the refrigerator and then use when you want a clean pure glass of water. You can also get a system built in under your sink with really great filtration. Most refrigerators now come with a built in water filtration system, with reusable cartridge filters for the drinking water and the ice. There are lots of alternatives.

With the exception of a few notable places, such as Flint, Michigan, most tap water is as good as or is better than most bottled water. In the US, 40 percent of bottled water comes from town water systems. It likely gets purified, but this is generally no better than a pitcher filter in the refrigerator. The EPA monitors the quality of tap water that we drink and the FDA monitors the quality of bottled water. They are both certified to be good for us to drink. If you want more information about your tap water, contact your local water public utility and request their most recent test report. It is a public record and it will tell you how the water fared when an independent auditor tested the water at different times and at different locations. Let's try to reduce our usage of bottled water and do our planet and pocketbooks a big favor.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2019 Scott P Davis


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