Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Bottled Water: What a Waste of Everything!

When we think of bottled water, we think of beautiful pristine mountain springs and lush green meadows with gently rolling streams.  We think of purity, health, and the cleanest, healthiest water we can drink.  We think we are doing the right thing for our health and the health of our loved ones when we pick up a case of bottled water at the store and drink it day after day.  After all, tap water is not safe to drink.

This is biggest scam going since the Food Guide was introduced (but that's a whole other story).  The truth is, our tap water is clean and safe to drink (with obvious rare exceptions: for example, the water contamination tragedy in Walkerton, Ontario, where incidentally, I grew up).  The bottled water industry has been taking us all for a ride for the past couple decades.  Two of the biggest water brands, Dasani, and Aquafina, are made by Coca Cola and PepsiCo, respectively.  We all should've been wise to them from the start.  I mean, really, would huge conglomerates like Coca Cola and PepsiCo be doing anything good for us, when their purpose is to create addiction to their sugary products to keep all the addicts coming back for more?  Water isn't exactly addictive.  But buying into the illusion is.  When we're told our water isn't safe, we're going to seek out safe alternatives.

Please watch this little video:  I promise you'll find the constant hand gesturing more than a little annoying, but it's a great video, and she means well.

Here are some further little facts about bottled water:
  • Plastic bottles take 700 years to begin composting
  • 90% of the cost of bottled water is due to the bottle itself
  • 80% of plastic bottles are not recycled
  • 38 million plastic bottles go to the dump per year in America from bottled water (not including soda drinks)
  • 24 million gallons of oil are needed to produce a billion plastic bottles
  • The average American consumes 167 bottles of water a year
  • Bottling and shipping water is the least energy efficient method ever used to supply water
  • Bottled water is the second most popular beverage in the United States
One thing not even mentioned in this video is the danger of drinking water out of plastic bottles.  The vast majority of plastic bottles are manufactured from petroleum, some of which comes from deposits as much as three billion years old.  Most plastic bottles are made from polyethylene terephtalate (PET) plastic, and almost all water bottles come from virgin plastic; an estimated 30% of the world's PET goes into plastic bottles.  The plastic used in plastic bottles is made by mixing hydrocarbons extracted from crude oil with chemical catalysts, triggering polymerization. Next, manufacturers produce plastic pellets, which are melted down into “preforms,” which look like small test tubes; the preforms, in turn, can be heated, causing them to expand and turn into conventional water bottles. Typically bottling companies order preforms, expanding the water bottles at their own facilities as needed.

Plastic water bottles are supposed to be safe.  They are #1 plastic, which is "not known to leach any chemicals that are suspected of causing cancer or disrupting hormones." Personally, I don't buy it.  I can't prove that it's not safe, but I just don't consider something that was made with petroleum to be safe to drink out of, under any circumstances, no matter what I read.

I really encourage you to check out the trailer for the documentary called "Tapped." I have yet to see the movie, but I know it will confirm many things we already know, and will likely shed even more light on this situation.

Considering the one time cost of a stainless steel water bottle that can last for years and years while creating absolutely no waste, I see no reason to ever buy a bottle of water.  It is rather inexcusable to waste so much plastic, just for convenience.  I think the way we have all bought into the bottled water craze shows, frankly, a real sense of entitlement in our culture.  It's hard to understand how we can justify the resources and energy used, the pollution caused, and the waste in landfills resulting from our need to make plastic bottles to fill with glorified tap water that pours freely from a tap in our kitchen.  The prevalence of bottled water is such a huge shame, and I can only hope that restrictions will come down, to cut off this industry so we can keep millions and billions of plastic water bottles out of  landfills and out of the oceans.  I don't know what will happen to the billions already there.


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