The Bullshit in Bottled Water…

Category: News

recyclingI read this post on, written by Ramon Cruz, and had to copy and paste it here. Hope peeps read it.
It’s ironic. In many parts of the world, there is no clean drinking water. Here in the U.S., pure, drinkable water flows out of every tap, and yet Americans buy a staggering amount of bottled water. We pay big bucks for it, too — more than $15 billion a year.

  • This doesn’t mean we’re healthier, despite the ads. Federal regulations for municipal water are far more stringent. Bottled water rules allow higher levels of many contaminants, with more lenient requirements for filtration, testing, and reporting. See NRDC’s bottled water report for details of contaminants by brand.
  • The earth isn’t healthier for it, either. According to the Pacific Institute’s fact sheet (PDF), manufacturing the 30+ billion plastic water bottles we bought in 2006 required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil, produced more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, and used three times the amount of water in the bottle.

And these numbers don’t include transporting the bottles. Nearly 25 percent of bottled water crosses national borders before reaching consumers.

Adding in transportation, the energy used comes to more 50 million barrels of oil equivalent — enough to run 3 million cars for a year.

Case study: Fiji water
Fiji Water produces more than a million bottles of water a day, while more than half the people in Fiji do not have reliable drinking water (see this Fast Company article). Adding to the irony, Fiji itself uses almost no bottled water, according to a Pacific Institute report (PDF). They export it.

Shipping Fiji Water around the world increases its environmental footprint. Manufacturing and shipping a one-liter bottle produces over half a pound of greenhouse gas emissions and uses nearly 7 times the amount of water in the bottle, according to calculations by Pablo Päster on TriplePundit.

The heavy use of water is as serious as the greenhouse gas emissions. Water is fast becoming a scarce resource.

What about recycling?
Recycling would help, but we don’t usually do it. Less than 20 percent of the 28 billion single-serving water bottles that Americans buy each year are recycled. Some estimates are as low as 12 percent.

According to a Container Recycling Institute report (PDF), the national recycling rate for all beverage containers is 33 percent. In states with deposit systems, the rate jumps to 65-95 percent. But of the 11 states with deposit laws, only three include containers for non-carbonated beverages (like water), though non-carbonated beverages now comprise 27 percent of the market.

Last November, Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) introduced a national bottle bill to address global warming that includes water bottles and other non-carbonated beverage containers.

The beverage industry, which long resisted deposit laws, has started to cooperate — mainly because it sees bottled water as the answer to the soda sales slump. Following months of bad publicity, manufacturers like Coke, Pepsi, and Nestlé have begun making lighter-weight plastic bottles and are encouraging consumers to recycle.

Better yet, carry tap water
If you buy bottled water, recycle the bottle. But the better solution — for you and the environment — is to drink tap water, both at home and at restaurants:

  • Tap water is cleaner than most bottled water.
  • Tap water is delivered to homes and offices for $0.002 a gallon. Bottled water, which can cost as much per gallon as gasoline, is a thousand times more expensive.

The quality of municipal water in the U.S. is generally excellent. Don’t let the recent reports about pharmaceuticals in tap water deter you — see this TreeHugger post for why.

But if you don’t trust tap water or you have old plumbing or you think tap water tastes funny, then try a water filter like those from PUR or Brita. To learn more about water filters, check out the rated list of water filter review sites at Consumer Search.

To carry water with you, use a reusable container filled with tap water. But don’t reuse single-use water bottles. This can expose you to bacterial build-up and carcinogens leached from the plastic.

Quite a few companies make reusable water bottles. There’s an ongoing debate about the safety of the polycarbonate plastic some use, but there are many safe reusable bottles made from other materials.

Use it or lose it
National Geographic’s Green Guide notes, “the federal share of funding for water systems has declined from 78 percent in 1973 to 3 percent today.” This places the financial burden almost entirely on local governments.

Food and Water Watch also talks about how important it is to stop this trend and maintain the quality of municipal water. Its Take Back the Tap (PDF) report gives a detailed overview of the issues surrounding tap water versus bottled water.


6 Comments so far

  1. matt April 14th, 2008 10:49 am

    No doubt the bottles and cost of shipping water does not make sense. But the problems with tap water (chlorine, chloramines, disinfection by-products, traces of pharmaceuticals, etc) make me thankful I decided to get a home filter to protect myself and my kids. Granted, everyone wants to say the product they bought is the best, but check out Pure Water Systems, Inc. if you want to see a company that really has tried to deal with ALL the kinds of junk that might be showing up in your water. The PWS™ BEV 300 system is the one we bought, and I’ve not seen anything from any other manufacturer that is this robust. Same technology you might find in a research lab but it fits under your sink.

    Yeah, there are a lot of products to choose from, and large steaming piles of bullsh__ to sift through (I can’t believe some companies think they can make a better water molecule than God), but we decided on the Pure Water Systems unit becuase they seemed the most straight-forward and were amazing to deal with on the phone. I must have had the guy on the phone for half an hour asking all kinds of questions and his (I think the name was Bob) answers were always carefully considered and very matter-of-fact.

  2. canada April 14th, 2008 5:31 pm

    i showed this to my dad and he forwarded it to like 40 people. ive already jumped on the boat on this one……its really ridiculous when you see the big picture huh…..

  3. Smash April 14th, 2008 8:54 pm

    It makes me think twice about using Evian in my baths and aquafina in the toilet. I mean I’m not about to change my ways but it makes me think.


  4. zOnk.oNe April 15th, 2008 9:46 am

    I use the simple Pur filter that fits onto the sink faucet. If I wasn’t renting, I think I’d be lookin into spending more $$ on something more permanent like Matt up above wrote about.

    Canada: Word.
    Smash: Hehehe…as usual. 😀

  5. JDixon September 7th, 2013 7:31 am

    I’m a pro bitcher about this, and am frequently made fun of… Basically Americans are turning into morons, sheeple…

    I’m 100% American (born and raised here just like my parents and their parents) but I can’t stand to see waste and stupidity around me. I live in Bergen County, NJ and near Lake Tappan, an artificial body of water created in the 1960s for drinking water. I’ve always drank tap water and always will. In fact I dare say that this region has some of the finest water in the nation… But since the American mentality shifted within the past decade or so (and yuppies invaded my town erecting McMansions and putting on vanity displays of excess like leaving their outdoor house lights on 24/7) I’m in the minority here when it comes to water…

    I go to the local supermarkets and I see idiot after idiot after idiot pushing around shopping carts Stacked with cases of bottled water! I think some of these jerkoffs actually use the stuff to water their lawns because it’s That import to them!

    Also this has become Republican Territory… I wouldn’t at all be surprised if these guys have investments in bottled water companies… I’m talking shitheads who are screaming that the government is deliberately poisoning public water to decrease our IQs–and that free water is Poison! Yeah, that’s the paranoid shit they’re pushing! And by the looks of those stacked carts, I can believe that most people Believe It!

    But something else I should point out: I see more Minorities buying bottled water than white people!
    They apparently eat this shit up faster and more easily… Why? Well, probably because they and/or parents came from shithole countries where fresh water wasn’t readily available so they’re already conditioned easily enough into believing bottled water is safer and better than tap water…

  6. zOnk.oNe September 24th, 2013 1:44 pm

    …and it’s only gotten worse since this was originally posted back in 2008. There’s an island of plastic and trash the size of Texas in the middle of the Pacific to prove we need to think about what we buy, consume, and dispose of.

    Today was trash day in my neighborhood. Every week I see places that have overflowing amounts of trash. So much waste they stack shit on top of their trashcans. I realized that I go through ONE kitchen (13 gallon) trash bag a week.
    It would take me more than a month to fill my main garbage can…

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