Frightening in a Bottle

The Bottled Water Delusion

Rows on rows of wasteful plastic bottles

Why America’s infatuation with bottled water isn’t as healthy as you might think

Americans love their bottled water, and it’s easy to see why. Water is calorie free; it’s the original diet drink. It also provides numerous health benefits such as flushing the toxins out of your system.

With cold and flu season upon us, it’s more important than ever to remember that drinking water replaces the fluids you lose through digestion, sweating, and blowing your nose.

Unfortunately, too many consumers fail to consider what will happen to all those plastic bottles they buy at the store. In 2003, 1 of every 5 people claimed to drink only bottled water.1 The numbers only get scarier from there. In 2011, Americans consumed 9.1 billion gallons of bottled water. This bottled water habit is environmentally harmful from start to finish. One estimate found the production and bottling of all that water required the energy equivalent of enough oil to fuel approximately 3 million cars for an entire year.1 That’s just the beginning. Only ¼ of those bottles get recycled, leaving nearly 4 billion pounds of plastic water bottles every year to find their way into landfills or ditches on the side of the road.1 Bottled water also has a cost to taxpayers. United States cities spend $70 million or more just to receive and process all that plastic waste annually.1

So what can you do to change this? Well, the first answer is simple: stop buying bottled water. Re-useable water bottles have been perfectly functional for decades, if not centuries, and are still that way today. Heck, go retro. For those of you who are worried about tap water quality, bottled water is not the answer. Despite marketing campaigns that would have you believe otherwise, bottled water is no more regulated than tap water. As I’ve discussed before, there’s only one way to make sure your water is more than 99% pure, and that’s to use a Reverse Osmosis purifier. Additionally, you need to make your voice heard so that your local representative understands the importance of changing current practices. In 2009, the state of Minnesota alone spent nearly half a million dollars purchasing bottled water.1 That money could be used to improve current city water system infrastructure, or on campaigns promoting the importance of recycling. Contact your congressman or congresswoman here.

Change is a funny thing. It’s very easy to talk about, yet often very difficult to accomplish. At its most powerful, change comes as the result of a movement from the ground up. This plastic bottle issue won’t go away on its own. In fact, the numbers suggest the problem is growing. If we want to make a difference in our environment, in our community, for our future, we can’t act soon enough. And if we don’t?  Well, that thought is truly frightening.



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