Thursday, March 19, 2009

Don't Drink Bottled Water

Fifty-four million barrels of oil.

That's how much energy it took to quench Americans' thirst for bottled water last year. That's about 2,000 times the energy required to produce the same amount of tap water. And we haven't even begun to calculate the cost of the plastic bottles discarded from approximately 200 billion (that's b-i-l-l-i-o-n) liters of water sold around the globe.

According to a recent study by the Pacific Institute, when water is shipped relatively short distances most of the energy involved in getting it to consumers is tied up in producing the bottle itself. Water bottles typically are made of polyethelene terepthalate (PET), a thermoplastic polymer resin used to make everything from polyester for clothing to food containers. When bottled water is shipped long distances, the cost in energy can double.

And if you thought those bottles were recycled, think again. Most water bottles are still being made of virgin PET, and the Pacific Institute estimates that about 1 million tons of it were used to produce water bottles for the U.S. market in 2007. More than 60 million water bottles end up in landfills and incinerators every day--assuming they weren't just tossed on the side of the road or are floating in the nation's waterways.

If you must drink bottled water, please fill the bottle out of your tap and re-use it.


Melanie said...

Well, that's pretty horrifying and makes me feel good that I rarely drink bottle water. Thanks for making me think.

rich said...

I've always thought that the first person to think of selling water in a plastic bottle was probably:

a) an evil genius
b) an environmental terrorist
c) very, very wealthy
d) an incredible con man, capable of persuading us to buy water in a bottle when the same produc is freely available from a tap

...and after this post, I'll add a fifth:

e) an oil baron.

Michelle said...

While there is truly little that justifies bottled water in our country, you brought in the worldwide stats. The truth is that much of the world does not have safe tap water, and thus does not have much choice but to drink bottled (or, yes, boiled) water. 200 billion liters of bottled water is horrifying, but more horrifying to me is how much of that is actually necessary.

great big veg challenge said...

Couldn't agree more with your post.
It is appalling.

ah said...

Fair point, Michelle, but all these figures are for the US, where pretty much everywhere has safe tap water.

dogear6 said...

It's funny, because I started years ago using my own thermal mug because I couldn't see throwing away all those bottles. Everyone thought I was weird at the time, but it sure made sense to me to avoid the waste.

Ed Bruske said...

Dogear, obviously you were ahead of your time. Congratulations on being vindicated and spread the word.

Mary said...

The problem with tap water is that most of it has added flouride and chlorine which are proving to be very unhealthy for the body.