Bottled water is not a sustainable product.
Buying it harms the environment in a number of ways. Fossil fuels are burned and carbon emissions generated in the production, transportation, and disposal or recycling of plastic bottles and other packaging.
It takes 3 liters of water to produce a single liter of bottled water.
Purchasing bottled water takes control of water resources from the public and turns it over to large private corporations that are less motivated to protect the environment or human health.
Although there are some regions where tap water presents health concerns, the nations that are the biggest consumers of bottled water also tend to have the strictest standards for maintaining the safety and palatability of tap water. In fact, these regulations tend to be stricter than those for bottled water.
A study conducted by Environmental Working Group researchers found that many top brands of bottled water in the United States were contaminated with bacteria, chemical toxins, and other pollutants. Substances found in bottled water included pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, arsenic, radioactive isotopes, fertilizer residues, and industrial chemicals such as solvents.
Tap water is tested each year and the results are made available to consumers, whereas producers of bottled water are not required to provide the results of their own contaminant tests. Blind taste tests have shown that most people are unable to distinguish chilled tap water from bottled water, yet bottled water costs nearly 2,000 times as much as public tap water. Taking advantage of this similarity, some producers simply bottle municipal tap water and sell it for exorbitant prices.
It’s better for the environment and for your health to carry a refillable water container, keep track of local water fountains, ask for tap water at restaurants, and purchase a filter for home use if you prefer the filtered taste.
If you feel that bottled water is the only option in certain situations, purchase it from companies that support good causes, such as One Water, which donates its profits to build water pumping systems for those in poor countries and Frank Water, which supports various clean water projects worldwide.
Environmental Working Group, “Bottled Water Quality Investigation: 10 Major Brands, 38 Pollutants,” October 2008. http://www.ewg.org/
McGill University, “Say No to Bottled Water!” 26 March 2012. http://www.mcgill.ca/sustainability/get-involved/bottled-water
Sustainweb, “Don’t Bottle It,” 27 April 2011. http://www.sustainweb.org/sustainablefood/dont_bottle_it/
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