The War Against Bottled Water

Posted by at 7:13PM

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.


14 Responses to “The War Against Bottled Water”

  1. Rachel says:

    Actually, SIGG bottles have a non-toxic epoxy based liner that prevents any possible danger of aluminum contamination (even though rumors of aluminum dangers have been flying since the 50s with no evidence).

  2. Clifton says:

    So you’re saying we use up 17 million BARRELS of OIL a year to provide the containers for a mere 8 million GALLONS of WATER? Those numbers seem way out of proportion to each other.
    Also, recycling plastic is basically an expensive way to feel good, and mistakenly believe you are helping something. In reality, it just consumes a ton of energy, and creates some seriously nasty by-products which CAN’T be dumped in a landfill. And to add insult to injury, the almost worthless packing pellets, etc, that are produced from recycling plastic is merely delaying the inevitable landfill destination.
    And a modern landfil is nothing to feel bad about. Once they reach capacity, they wind up as golf courses and parks, with the actual garbage buried under 20 feet of impermeable clay – where it can wait out its thousand-year life expectancy out of sight and out of mind.
    There are real environmental issues that are worth your attention, but recycling plastic (and to a lesser degree, paper and glass)is backward. Re-USE those items.

  3. Dave Nofmeister says:

    Public water is the most efficient method of transporting water in the world. It can be obtained on demand, and uses very little energy (fossil fuels) compared to any other method of transport.
    Today’s public water system, in most American cities, is as safe and healthy as anything that can be found in bottled water, certainly at a fraction of the cost. Regrettably, it appears that it is a fight between marketers and environmentalists, and the marketers are more financially able to make the fight for water, for the (presumed) better health benefits, and to protect their market interest.
    Dave Nofmeister

  4. RAchel says:

    I think you should drink liquid plastic and not water because it saves you money and you die quicker so you dont have to spend money on your life

  5. Willafred says:

    You go Rachel! We both agree that water is bad for you and we should drink plastic, so we can save money to buy more important things, like knives, guns, and forks! YAHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Sara says:

    I agree. Bottled water can be very costly and even dangerous in the right conditions. I use a countertop filter at home and only drink bottled water if I’m somewhere else and someone else has provided it. (and often I can taste the chlorine in it)
    Each one reach one!

  7. Dave says:

    What about plastic soda bottles as well, i havent heard any complaints against them and there bottles are at least twice as thick. If we take water away from people and they are out away from their tap water will they simply stop drinking anyhting or will they reach for a soda or something else that comes in a plastic bottle. I mean we have bottle beer, soda, snapple etc it just seems odd they are targeting one industry. Sounds like another industry (soda maybe) is working behind the scenes.

  8. Brandon says:

    ok guys, I agree that bottled water is bad, however, I frequently travel to places that the water is less than drinkable, and stay in hostels/hotels… what is a way to get fresh water conveniently without buying it bottled? I need a portable device that filters water dependably

  9. Daniel says:

    Hey Brandon,
    Depending on what is in the water you are filtering, you might want to look into purchasing a reusable water bottle that comes with a built in filter.
    As I said, I don’t know what’s in the water you want to filter and thus what you want to remove from it, but you might want to consider one of these bottles from Katadyn.
    They remove more than you think they would, and they’re very popular amongst hikers and campers with few sources of quality drinking water.
    I would think it might be even a bit overkill for your needs, but who knows?

  10. Bottled Water Prices Rising | Highwater Marks says:

    […] Fun Fact: 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. Taken from The Unofficial Stanford Blog […]

  11. Jeff Wise@BerkeyCleanWater says:

    Let’s just forget about the environmental impact of bottled water for a second. That shouldn’t be our first outrage. It has been proven that the majority of bottled water is recycled tap water which hasn’t been filtered at all.

    Where is the outrage for that! Guess what? Those companies still continue to sell these bottles like the Coca-Cola company.

  12. Walter H rabbit says:

    I think you all need to calm down its just bottled water i meen really cant you find something better to complain about.

  13. TJ says:

    The plastics industry is doing everything wrong when it comes to bottled water. It is absolutely the most unsustainable thing you can do to use more water for a bottle than the bottle will hold in water. Resources will soon become less available in the years ahead as environmental issues become more problematic for the people on this planet.

    The best thing we can do as a society is to boycott water bottles by using our collective buying power and drive water bottle companies out of business. We can choose to support reusable water bottles and drink filtered tap water.

  14. Andrew says:


    I’ve read your article. Tap water’s main advantages are availability, cost (it’s more or less free of cost) and fact that it’s environment friendly (no transport, no plastic bottle producing, no distribution, no water). Disadvantage: it contains chemicals that provide drinkability. So it can be genotoxic, the level of it can increase with old or bad pipes etc.

    On the other hand all types of water (even natural spring and mineral) contain chemical substances which despite very low levels harm human’s health. So reducing the level of genotoxic materials is essential.

    You might want to check unique bottle available in UK now, called Flaska. This glass bottle is programmed meaning that the information imprinted into the glass changes water’s structure and surface tension and thus lowers genotoxicity.

    Check for further details.


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