Message in a Bottle
By Taylor Romanowski
We’ve all bought them, drank from them and thrown them away but are you familiar with that water bottle you hold in your hand besides the fact that it holds, well water? We didn’t know much on the topic either, but heard whispers here and there about the actual truth on bottled water and thought we would do a little digging of our own.
Bottled water is healthy, pure and safer than tap water right? That’s what all the manufactures say. But is it really true? If you look at the labels on bottled water you would believe so. All those crystal, flowing waterfalls; majestic mountain peaks; pristine pools of spring water or lush, tropical islands make us believe these are the true sources of the water that is in the bottles we’re consuming.
In reality, bottled water is just water. None of that “purest source of water” jibber jabber the manufactures preach to us daily in television and magazine ads. Seems like they’re saying water isn’t pure to begin with… water is a natural compound; of course it’s pure! The truth is, most bottled water is tap water, plain and simple. According to the National Research Defense Council (NRDC), “40% of bottled water is derived from tap water.” Coca-Cola’s Dasani and Pepsi’s Aquafina are two of the major bottled water companies using tap water as their “filtered” bottled water. So those bottles you buy for $2-$5 from the store are coming straight from the tap, the same water you could get at home for FREE but instead these manufactures are charging you to drink your own water and making a fortune!
We have a secret for you and we’re ready to share… tap water isn’t bad for you as long as it's filtered! In fact, the Federal Government requires tap water to be regularly inspected for bacteria and toxic chemicals under the Environmental Protection Agency. Sadly, that doesn’t go for bottled water, more like the opposite happens – 70% of bottled water never crosses state lines for sale, making it exempt from FDA oversight. Something even more nerve-racking – according to the documentary Tapped, there is only one person within the FDA in charge of the bottled water production for the entire country. That’s a whole lot of information handling to lie on someone’s shoulders, leaving a lot of room for error in an issue that should be fault proof. So next time you pick up a bottle of water set it back down and head for the kitchen sink, you’ll save quite a bit of money and you’re body will thank you for it.
H2Ohh?? The plastics used in bottled waters are made in petro chemical plants. What does that mean? It means the bottles you’re consuming your water from are made with polyethylene (PET), a derivative from crude oil. Once again, oil should be saved for things with engines – cars, boats and airplanes… NOT our mouths and bodies. PET is found in 80% of plastic bottles; leaking into the water from the bottles straight into our bodies as we drink it. Can’t be good for our bodies’ right? Right. Studies have been completed on taking bottled water off the shelves and testing it in labs and the results found are nauseating – traces of Toluene, a clear liquid typically used in paint thinners, was found in the majority of bottles tested. A mono-substituted benzene derivative, this chemical has been linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes, obesity, disease of the ovaries, disease of the uterus and low sperm count in males... just to name a few (Tapped Documentary). All of this coming from bottles we drink our water from, this whole time we thought drinking bottled water was safer than drinking from the tap and we were wrong, horribly wrong.
Bottled water is a thriving business. In 2007, Americans purchased 29 billion bottles of water making the water manufacturing business an 11.5 billion dollar industry that year. When it comes to the environment and sustainability, the industry is a dry well; it’s expensive, wasteful and harmful to the environment and our health.
People love the convenience bottled water holds. They’re affordable, available everywhere and are perfect for when you’re on the go. According to a California study, “more than 1 billion water bottles are winding up in the trash in California each year. That translates into nearly 3 million empty water bottles going to the trash EVERY day.” And that’s just one state, 3 million bottles in the trash every day for California alone! Instead of these bottles ending up in landfills, plastic bottles could be recycled and made into items like carpet, t-shirts, sweaters or toys, among other things. Or we could take another route – at the rate California is throwing away their plastic bottles, “ten years from now there would be enough to create a two lane, six-inch deep highway that stretches the entire coast of California.” Now if that doesn’t put this whole issue into perspective, I don’t know what else will.
According to a 2001 report of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), “roughly 1.5 million tons of plastic are expended in the bottling of 89 billion liters of water each year. That plastic requires up to 47 million gallons of oil per year to produce. After all of this, 90% of bottles land in our garbage or the waterways instead of the recycling bin.” Those 47 million gallons of oil could fuel 100,000 cars for a year but instead it’s wasted on the making of plastic bottles. Imagine your water bottle filled a quarter of the way up with oil. That’s around the amount it takes to produce that one bottle. Not a pretty sight huh?
The biggest challenge is convincing people to hold onto their plastic bottles until they get home so they can be properly recycled. It’s a small step that can have a BIG outcome. Recycling is an act that has been adopted by people around the world but sadly, it is still an act that needs to be adopted by billions more people. For every six water bottles used, only one is making it into the recycling bin. Those remaining five bottles are now housed in landfills. Or even worse, they end up as trash floating in our rivers, lakes and oceans. Endangering aquatic life and our health by leaking PET into the waters and ground contaminating everything in its sight. On the bright side, that one plastic bottle that was recycled can now save enough energy to power a 60-watt light bulb for six hours! Use your power – recycle and do your part in saving our endangered planet.
Next time you reach for that cold one in the fridge because it’s the “convenient” thing to do, take a second to think what you’re about to put into your body… petroleum, chemicals, bacteria and cancer… you had no idea what you were getting and we didn’t either! Bottled water is clearly not as safe as we thought it was, but water is a necessity for life. Plants depend on it, animals depend on it and we depend on it. 75% of the earth’s surface is covered with water but only 1% of it is drinkable. Water is a resource that is becoming endangered. There is no such thing as extra water, staying away from bottled water is better for our health, wallets and our environment. Eliminate bottled water from your diet and switch to drinking filtered tap water, using stainless steel or glass water bottles and investing in a water filter for your faucet – it’s cheaper and healthier than drinking from the bottle! By doing these things you’ll be doing your part in helping to eliminate one of the biggest problems facing our environment.