The environmental cost of bottled water
We recently told you about how bottled water is expected to surpass all others as the No. 1 consumed beverage in the US, and that consumers are spending $13 billion for something they could get from the tap.
What we didn’t tell you was the environmental cost of consumers turning to bottled water – an industry that didn’t really exist 36 years ago.
Here are 7 impacts of bottled water on the environment.
1. To the dump we go – Most water bottles don’t make it to the recycling bin. Americans use an average of 167 water bottles annually, but only 38 are recycled, or less than 25 percent.
2. One and done – While some may reuse water bottles, it is estimated that 50 million water bottles and thrown away every day. Some are hesitant to reuse water bottles because of health risks, but a recent University of Michigan study disputes that contention.
3. More water for water – Environmentalists contend the ratio is 3 to 1 – it takes 3 liters of water to make 1 liter. This 2013 study by the International Bottled Water Association puts that number at 1.39 liters to make 1 liter, but activists contend the industry doesn’t include such things as the amount of groundwater used to drill for oil to produce the petroleum needed for the plastic for water bottles.
4. Lots of gas – The amount of petroleum used in the production of water bottles – a hotly-contested item between the industry and environmentalists – is about 1.5 million barrels, according to the Earth Policy Institute. That’s enough fuel to keep 100,000 cars running for a year.
5. It’s the same stuff – Most bottled water does come from municipal sources – like the water from your tap – although the industry contends water put into bottles goes through additional treatment.
6. Rethink the drink – Most consumers who buy bottled water say they do so for the convenience, but the Santa Barbara, California-based Community Environmental Council has embarked on a program to hand out multi-use water bottles, and has installed water stations in schools to cut down on the use of bottled water. The group believes its efforts are responsible for keeping nearly one million water bottles out of landfills.
7. Carry your own water – Help yourself stay hydrated by carrying your own multi-use water bottle. You can easily refill it and you will be less tempted to buy bottled water.