Did You Know?
The plastic water bottle is a product widely sold due to manufactured demand. We’ve been convinced that tap water is unsafe and tastes bad. But, did you know that 1/3 of bottled water in the U.S. actually comes from the tap?!
That’s right. Pepsi’s Aquafina and Coke’s Dasani are actually just filtered tap water.
With billions of plastic beverage bottles purchased every year, it’s no wonder they now litter the ocean and coastlines. During numerous clean ups, I’ve picked up hundreds of plastic bottle caps, many on secluded beaches where they clearly weren’t left by the days beach goer.
Of course, there are many places in the world where bottled water is essential to the health of a population. Most of these areas also do not have access to recycling programs. Therefore, the water should be packaged in a more sustainable manner. Whether that’s through refillable bottles or biodegradable plastic is still up for debate.
It’s a twisted cycle in many parts of the world though. Drinking water is drawn from good sources to be bottled and sold in areas that also have perfectly good tap water. This precious natural resource is being depleted in the name of profit. It goes something like this:
1. Pay for water – which is otherwise free from the tap.
2. Consume and dispose of the plastic bottle (which we give essentially no value).
3. Forget that it happened. Inadvertently pollute and repeat.
Almost 90% of plastic bottles end up in landfills or discarded on the ground. They can take over 1000 years to degrade and when they do, harmful chemicals from the plastic can leach into the soil. Ironically, this could contaminate water sources, creating a need for plastic bottles.
The mere 10% remaining are collected for recycling, but downcycled into lower quality products. Unfortunately, this process isn’t any better than the energy and materials required by the original manufacturing and transportation of the first bottle. Once broken down for re-use, manufacturers are unable to build another bottle out of the recycled plastic alone. A “recycled” plastic bottle actually contains more virgin plastic than recycled plastic.
Add to the issue the amount of oil required in production and shipment of the product and the impact that has on marine ecosystems … it just doesn’t make sense. According to the Earth Policy Institute, in a single year manufacturers around the world use about 2.7 million tons of plastic to bottle water. Most of those bottles are a type of plastic called polyethylene terepthalate (PET), which is produced from crude oil. To meet the bottled water demand in the U.S. alone requires 1.5 million barrels of oil. That’s enough to power about 100,000 cars for a year!!
Without rapid action and a commitment to discontinue our single use bottle habits, the future is bleak. According to the International Bottled Water Association, the plastic bottle industry sees nothing but growth on the horizon. Report here – http://www.bottledwater.org/files/2011BWstats.pdf
If we want a clean, safe and sustainable future, we need this wasteful behaviour to stop.
I challenge you to ditch the plastic bottle for good!