Bottled water is redundant.

Today, water is a readily available commodity and consumer item in industrialised nations.  We have the luxury of choice: to spend our money on a variety of bottled water, use tap water or install a water filter at home and in the office. However,  more than 1 billion people globally don’t have this luxury.

We are being told to adopt healthy lifestyle habits, generally connected with consumption, including consuming bottled drinking water. Drinking water fountains, which used to be abundant in our cities, have been removed in favour of the individually purchased bottled water.  (For more about water as a commodity click here.)

Take the entire life-cycle of  bottled water into account and there is nothing healthy about it. Here are significant reasons why we shouldn’t buy it.

Be warmed: if you want to keep buying water, don’t read on because you won’t ever want to buy a bottle of water again!

The toll on the environment has to be the number one reason. We all know by now what happens to plastic in our waterways and about the huge vortex of plastic floating in our oceans. Animals eat it and die an agonizing, slow death, it is unsightly and toxic.

Some of the facts about plastic bottles.

  • When plastics break down, they don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade. This means the materials break down to smaller fragments which contaminate soil, waterways, and animals upon ingestion.
  • Companies purchase water rights to run manufacturing processes as well as the actual water to fills bottles for sale. These water rights can compete with the water supply to the local population in different ways. 1) for drinking water and 2) for farming and animal husbandry to name two.
  • Producing the plastic bottles is resource intensive, takes water, energy and oil – to name just a few ingredients.
  • Bottling and shipping water is the least energy efficient method used to supply water when compared to all other methods.
  • Bottled water is being transported around the world, using more resources and energy even when local water is available.
  • Plastic bottles take 700 years to begin composting. 10 % of the plastic produced every year worldwide winds up in the ocean. 70% of which finds its way to the ocean floor, where it will likely never degrade. (UN, 2006)
  • Plastic bottles end up in landfill – conservative estimates only approximately 30% are recycled because most bottled water is bought on the go rather than consumed at home.
  • Bottled water is no healthier than tap water – on the contrary. Tap water supply is heavily regulated and tested much more frequently than bottled water. There is no health benefit in drinking bottled water.
  • Some plastic bottles contaminate the water they contain.
  • Some brands of bottled water contain tap water.
  • Finally,  there are personal economic reasons too. Bottled water can be up to 10,000 times more expensive than tap water. 90% of the cost of bottled water is due to the bottle itself, and marketing and transport must also be included.  We can save a lot of money for a consumer good that has no real benefit over the cheaper and readily available alternative – in many tastes tests blindfolded people preferred the tap water over bottled water. Our choice can make a significant positive impact on the environment.

What to do?

Buy a durable, non-toxic, refillable bottle and carry it with you at all times. In restaurants and bars, ask the waiter for tap water. It’s that easy!

What are the consequences of contaminated or lack of access to water?

The good people at the water project have compiled a compelling list:

When there is no water, there is needless suffering.

Poverty, disease, hunger, inequality… you name it. There are lots of things wrong with our world. Each has devastating effects on billions of lives. But did you know that many of the seemingly impossible problems facing the world’s poor are linked directly to a lack of clean water? 

  • Nearly 1 billion people don’t have safe water to drink.
  • A child dies every 15 seconds from a lack of clean water.
  • 115 people die every hour from diseases linked to poor sanitation, poor hygiene and contaminated water.
  • 1 in 5 children who die before age 5 worldwide, die of a water related disease.
  • Children often walk miles every day to collect dirty water to drink.
  • Water related illness kills more people each year than wars and conflict.

Don’t buy bottled water anymore

It is time we stop ignoring what we can’t see in the middle of the oceans. We have known about this issue for so long, why is it taking so long to do something about it?

It is a classic ‘out of sight, out of mind’ phenomenon. Many good people are working to get it into the minds of decision makers, so far, with little success. They need our support. Actions speak louder than words.

Don’t buy bottled water anymore.

Pllastic bottles need to be banned if we can’t dispose of them responsibly without endangering ours and the rest of the planet’s health.  There is no indication that people will start acting responsibly either  – so why produce something that causes so many problems?

Love to hear what you think about it. Here are some more links and a quote from Captain Charles Moore, the discoverer of the Great Ocean Garbage patch.

Facts and figures about water quality and health.

The Water Project.

More about the oceangarbage patches.

Charles Moore’s Foundation for the removal of plastic from the oceans.

So on the way back to our home port in Long Beach, California, we decided to take a shortcut through the gyre, which few seafarers ever cross. Fishermen shun it because its waters lack the nutrients to support an abundant catch. Sailors dodge it because it lacks the wind to propel their sailboats.

Yet as I gazed from the deck at the surface of what ought to have been a pristine ocean, I was confronted, as far as the eye could see, with the sight of plastic.

It seemed unbelievable, but I never found a clear spot. In the week it took to cross the subtropical high, no matter what time of day I looked, plastic debris was floating everywhere: bottles, bottle caps, wrappers, fragments.

Months later, after I discussed what I had seen with the oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer, perhaps the world’s leading expert on flotsam, he began referring to the area as the ‘eastern garbage patch.’

Capt. Charles Moore, discoverer of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, in an article for Natural History magazine in 1993. Source: national geographic website: http://education.nationalgeographic.com/education/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/?ar_a=1 Capt