Bottled Water- often considered a “healthy alternative” in very popular in the States- we currently drink about 8 million gallons of it each year. And while this bottled water is indeed healthier than drinking coke or pepsi, bottled water is incredibly bad for the health of our planet. And it turns out it may be bad for us as well. Several environmental organizations have declared war on bottled water, and are trying to show its ill effects on not only the planet, but also on us. The following is a recap of some of these problems.
Problem #1: it takes 3-5 times more water to create the plastic water bottle than will actually fit in the bottle. Considering each bottle should only be used once (to prevent the leeching of phthalates)- that is a lot of water that is wasted for each bottle we drink.
Problem #2: Plastic is made from petroleum, so we are depleting our non-renewable resources for a bottle that will be used once. The Pacific Institute calculates that the process of making the plastic bottles consumed in the U.S. uses approximately 17 million barrels of oil per year.
Problem #3: Plastic bottles aren’t recycled: only about 12% of plastic bottles were recycled in 2003. Recycling these bottles would ensure less petroleum was used in the production of more plastic bottles. Instead, these bottles pile up in the landfill, taking as long as 1000 years to decompose.
Problem #4: It may be just tap water. Bottled water seems to be more pure and safer because it comes out of a bottle that you had to buy. However, 25% of bottled water is just reprocessed tap water, meaning you’re not getting anything special. In fact, you could save yourself a lot of money (and the planet a lot of pollution) by buying a water filter
Ok, so perhaps I’ve convinced you and you’re willing to swear off bottled water- There are still dangers, though:
Problem #5: All plastic bottles, even reusable ones, are bad for your health. That’s right, even your trusty Nalgene is probably making you sick with Bisphenol A- in small amounts, this chemical compound would be fine, but new studies have shown that humans are being exposed to so much that it may be causing negative health affects. Bisphenol A emulates estrogen, and when enough of it end up in our bodies (from our plastic food containers, plastic bottles, CDs, etc. ) it may lead to health problems. The increased use of Bisphenol A has mirrored the increase of problems such as obesity, diabetes, breast cancer, and hyperactivity, indicating much more research needs to be done on this compound.
Alternative to Plastic Bottles:
Many people/groups have promoted the shift to aluminum bottles, such as the SIGG but I’ve heard scary (but so for unproven) things about the leeching of aluminum into the water, and possible health effects of that. If you want to play it extra safe, try out the Kleen Kanteen stainless steel bottles. Stainless steel bottles are supposed to be more earth-friendly than aluminum ones (though I could find no states on that either).
In the end, it may make no difference for our health- maybe in 10 years will learn that stainless steal also causes horrible health problems, but you’ll probably be ready for a new water bottle by then anyways. However, its clear that by kicking the bottled water habit today, we can help preserve our earth for tomorrow.