Earth Week 2013: Issues with Bottled Water

The premise of the bottled water dilemma is that the water in the bottles it not well regulated and isn’t from where the bottle/company says it is from. Also, the plastic making up the bottles clogs landfills, wastes resources, and pollutes the oceans.

An analysis done by the National Resource Defense Council in 1999 shows that bottled and tap water each come from freshwater sources like lakes, springs, and aquifers. However, tap water is more regulated and has to go through a more intensive filtration system, meeting the Environmental Protection Agency drinking-water standards, which bottled water doesn’t have to meet (they have standards from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which aren’t as stringent). Even though both are regulated, the EPA system provides testing of water sources for tap water up to several times a day, but the FDA will test bottled water sources either weekly or monthly. Along the same lines, tap water facilities must fill out a source and contaminant report annually under the EPA, but bottled water facilities are not required to share their contaminant report with consumers. If this doesn’t change your mind, do a tap water vs. bottled water blind test – most of the time, consumers choose tap!

On top of the regulation dilemma, the plastic from the bottles causes devastating damage to the environment. Not only is plastic made out of oil, but most people do not recycle. If they do recycle, sometimes the facilities where they recycle don’t take the recycling to the recycling plant and instead throw it in the trash, leading the bottles into landfills and into the ocean. If the plastic is not biodegradable, which most bottles are not, the carcinogens in the plastic seep into the ground, polluting the ground water. If the bottles make their way into the ocean, they make a dead spot, ruining the delicate marine ecosystems. Also, it is almost impossible to remove the plastic from these areas in the ocean, the largest one being “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” For more information on these implications, check out my past blog post on the Garbage Patch and Method Soap bottles.

More and more bottling companies are making recycled bottles for their one-use water bottles, which is taking a step in the right direction. However, there still needs to be accountability on the consumer and the waste companies to actually take the bottles to the recycling plant.

My view on this is: why would you pay for water when it comes out of the tap? Also, I like tap water better, and as you all know, I love to help save the environment. Keeping plastic out of landfills by not even purchasing bottled water helps lessen waste on land and at sea. Unless it is an emergency or there is absolutely no tap water around for some odd reason, you will NEVER see me with a bottle of water that I purchased. Besides it being expensive, it is wasteful. And if you don’t like the way that it tastes, you can buy a Bobble bottle, or a Brita bottle, both of which use reusable plastic and have a filter.

So, in the spirit of Earth Day, my challenge to you is to fill up your reusable bottle before spending 1-3 dollars on bottled water. It is free, and the possibilites for reusable bottles are endless. As with every “act of green,” a lot of little actions go a long way!

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