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THE ENVIRONMENTAL COSTS OF BOTTLED WATER

Consumers have been led to believe that bottled water is a healthy and safe alternative to tap water. But, is this really true? In most cases, bottled water is nothing but tap water in a bottle. It’s not as if bottled water is sourced from pristine, blue pools hidden in the mountains.

The current global market for bottled water stands at around $100 million and is growing at the rate of 7 % each year. It’s easy to see that this is a very lucrative business. However, it has a very adverse impact on our environment. It is simply not an alternative to municipal water supplies that are safe and far more inexpensive.

We need to know that –

1) Bottled water is expensive.

A 20-ounce bottle of water that you can purchase at vending machines sells at 5 cents for an ounce. Most municipal water costs far less, less than 1 cent for a gallon. In fact, bottled water is more expensive than gas.

2) Not any healthier than tap water.

While technically, bottled water in the U.S comes within the purview of the Food and Drug Administration, 7 out of 10 bottles of bottled water are sold within the state of manufacture, thus they are beyond FDA regulations. Municipal water supplies, on the other hand, a strictly regulated. They are regularly checked for contamination, and the ETA proactively monitors the health of overground and underground water bodies that supply municipalities. There is very little evidence, apart from marketing speak to buttress claims that bottled water is safer and healthier than tap water.

3) Bottled water results in garbage.

More than 1.5 million tons of plastic waste is generated because of the bottled water industry. Nearly 47 million gallons of oil is used every year to produce the plastic necessary for these water bottles. Only 20 % of these bottles actually make it to a recycling plant, most are simply disposed and end up in landfills of our oceans.

4) Bottled water diverts attention from municipal systems

Many people choose bottled water over tap water because they consider tap water supplied by the municipality to be unsafe or they do not like its taste. Easy availability of bottled water eases the pressure off municipalities and disincentivizes them from providing better quality drinking water.

5) The business of water

Water, an essential human need, is increasingly being commoditized by businesses. Fresh drinking water is becoming increasingly scarce all over the world. Corporates, wherever they can, are purchasing water resources and distribution channels. There is money to be made here and businesses are not really bothered about human rights. We can do our bit to combat plastic pollution because of bottled water. A simple steel thermos that can be refilled and reused is a highly effective alternative to use and throw plastic water bottles.