Bottled Water: The New Bad

Drinking water is a good thing, far better than buying soft drinks or liquid candy. But have you ever thought about what it takes to put that plastic bottle of water into your hand?

Water bottles, like other containers, are made from natural gas and petroleum. It takes more than 17 million barrels of oil annually to make the water bottles Americans use each year, according to the Earth Policy Institute in Washington. That’s enough to fuel more than 1 million U.S. cars for a year. Worldwide, an estimated 2.7 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water every year. And, only about 23 percent of those bottles are recycled, in part because water bottles are often not included in local American grocery store redemption plans that accept beverage cans.

If you factor in the additional energy needed to fill the bottles with water, the substantial amount of fuel needed to transport water, which is extremely heavy, moving the bottles to our stores and homes, chilling them for use or disposing of them, the impact on the environment is anything but refreshing.

During the summer of 2007, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom prohibited city departments and agencies from buying bottled water. He noted that San Francisco water is “some of the most pristine on the planet.” Indeed it is, coming from up near Yosemite National Park. Salt Lake City followed San Francisco’s lead shortly thereafter, and New York City subsequently launched an ad campaign advertising its water as “clean,” “zero sugar,” and even “stain free.”

The real change, though, will come when millions of ordinary consumers realize that they can save money, and save the planet, by turning in their water bottles and turning on the tap.

Bottled water is the “new bad.” Invest in a stainless steel bottle, turn on your faucet, and make a difference.

Worried about all those little pharmaceuticals you’ve heard about floating in tap water? Get a filter, say the experts. The carbon filters that are widely sold actually work pretty well.