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Fancy reusable bottles have lengthy since changed brand-name bottled waters as status symbols. But even when Evian doesn’t have the cachet it as soon as did, Americans are far from abandoning the single-use plastic water bottle. Americans drink more bottled water than milk or beer. The common American drank almost 47 gallons of bottled water in 2021, and nearly 19% of us drink solely bottled water. Yet quitting bottled water is likely one of the best and most cost-effective methods to cut back your environmental footprint. If you’re not satisfied, maintain studying to study in regards to the issues with bottled water.
The Plastic Problem
Most water bottles are produced from PET plastic, which is technically recyclable. In 2015 (earlier than China stopped recycling American plastic) solely about one-third of plastic water bottles have been recycled. By 2020, the recycling charge of PET plastic bottles was right down to 27.1% — in all probability due to the China ban.
Somewhere between half one million and 1 million tons of plastic water bottles are thrown away every year within the U.S. Unfortunately, these unrecycled bottles will not be all properly disposed of. Globally, 8 million tons of plastic waste finds its approach into the oceans yearly, the place it varieties large, ecosystem-disrupting garbage gyres and breaks down into harmful microplastics which are taken up within the food chain.
Accurate life cycle analyses are troublesome to calculate, and comparisons amongst them are even much less sure, however by one estimate, whole emissions from plastics manufacturing and incineration are anticipated to succeed in 56 gigatons of carbon between 2019 and 2050. This is, sadly, higher than many different packaging choices, however happily, faucet water isn’t packaged in any respect.
Tap water is pumped comparatively brief distances from a nicely or watershed on to your faucet. But bottled water typically travels hundreds of miles from its supply to your neighborhood cabinets.
One survey of carbon impact studies estimated that even domestically bottled water has a transportation footprint 300 instances that of faucet water, with the entire carbon footprint of bottled water as much as 1,000 instances higher than faucet water.
Price of Plastic
Many environmentally acutely aware selections are costly; natural meals and authorized wooden price extra, and photo voltaic panels and EVs take a very long time to appreciate financial savings. But bottled water is an exception to the rule. One of the best ways in which going inexperienced can save money is to drink faucet water.
On common, bottled water prices 4 cents per ounce. If you drink solely bottled water, that provides as much as round $1,000 per 12 months. Compare that to faucet water, which prices on common 3 cents per 100 gallons, or practically $1 for one 12 months’s value of consuming water. Saving cash turns into an environmental selection while you use the financial savings to pay the premium for environmentally conscious purchases.
More than 90% of bottled water customers cite safety and quality as the explanations they purchase bottled. But roughly 1 / 4 of all bottled water is tap water. Besides, the water high quality requirements set by the Environmental Protection Agency for faucet water are extra stringent than the Food and Drug Administration’s requirements for bottled water. One (admittedly dated) examine discovered that a couple of third of the water bottles examined didn’t meet even these requirements.
Studies have additionally discovered microplastics in 90% of the bottles examined. Unfortunately, even faucet water incorporates microplastics now, however at a lot decrease ranges than bottled water (9.6 particles per liter versus 325 particles per liter). The long-term results of consuming microplastics are unknown.
The absence of widespread bottle-borne diseases signifies that bottled water is mostly secure, however for most Americans, faucet water is safer.
Technically, water is a renewable useful resource, however contemporary water will not be all the time replenished as rapidly as we extract it. When you’re consuming water from elsewhere, it’s possible you’ll be contributing to water scarcity in one other neighborhood. For instance, half the residents of Fiji don’t have entry to wash nicely water like that bottled for export from the nation. Even in the U.S., bottled water firms have been discovered answerable for depleting native wetlands and streams.
What You Can Do
Living a plastic-free lifestyle is feasible, but it surely requires extra effort than most of us can provide. Reducing our plastic use by simple changes, alternatively, is nicely inside everybody’s grasp. Few modifications are so simple as avoiding bottled water, even when you could improve the taste of your faucet water.
Originally printed on January 24, 2020, this text was up to date in January 2023.