Let's get serious for a bit. We want to take the opportunity from time to time to make our case for and against:
- against bottled water, for its wasted resources and unreliable quality
- for filtered water straight from the tap.
Here are a couple of pieces of evidence to start building our case:
Fact: Consumers around the world use 1.5 million tons of plastic each year for water bottles—of which less than 27.2% of the plastic waste is recycled.
As our demand for natural resources grows, so does our responsibility to preserve our planet for future generations. By switching from bottled water to filtered water, you’ll get hundreds of gallons of healthy, good-tasting water every year—which is the equivalent of making thousands of plastic water bottles disappear.
While a large portion of the world desperately needs access to clean drinking water, the United States and other countries spend billions on bottled water when perfectly clean drinking water can easily be filtered for pennies per gallon. Not only are we needlessly spending money on bottled water with lower standards for contaminant removal than government regulations of tap water, we are also filling up our landfills with billions of pounds of oil-based plastics that take thousands of years to degrade.
Sadly, the bottled water production process is fairly resource intensive. It actually takes 17 million barrels of oil to produce bottled water yearly, which is enough oil to fuel one million cars for a whole year. Oil isn’t the only necessary resource. It’s a good thing that tap water is quite cheap because ironically, it takes about three times the amount of tap water to produce one bottle of water as it does to fill it.
Fact: 22% of tested bottle water brands contain chemical contaminants at levels above strict state health limits.
The reality of bottled water is that people pay from $1 to $4 per gallon for a complete unknown—leaving the quality and purity up to the discretion of company executives who may have little background in water quality. We have virtually no way of knowing the actual composition of bottled water. Unlike municipal water supplies, bottled water companies are not required to provide the public with the source of their water or to produce quality reports about substances present in their water. For example, bottled water is generally not tested for E coli bacteria. Another glaring example: municipal water supplies must meet certain standards for a number of toxic or cancer-causing chemicals, such as phthalate--a chemical that can leach from plastic, including plastic bottles! Some in the bottled water industry persuaded the FDA to exempt bottled water from regulations regarding these chemicals.
Industry lobbyists successfully fight every year to keep bottled water companies from having to abide by even the minimal health standards set by the EPA for tap water. Over the past several years, in fact, bottled water has been recalled due to contamination by arsenic, bromate, cleaning compounds, mold and bacteria. The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates bottled water, states that "Companies that market bottled water as being safer than tap water are defrauding the American public."
These are startling facts in our opening arguments. We'll take a short recess before resuming our examination. In the meantime, please share this article with others to spread the word. And give us your feedback by sharing your comments.