The Peril of Plastic Water Bottles

What’s Wrong With Disposable Plastic Water Bottles

The basic advantage of plastic water bottles over other materials is its durability. This durability creates major problems for our lakes, oceans, and wildlife. Consider the following:

Frightening Facts

  • The Unites States consumes 30 Billion disposable water bottles each year / 1,000 bottles of water every single second.
  • The United States throws away more than 60 million plastic water bottles every day.
  • 50% of the plastic manufactured is used once and not recycled.
  • Over 80% of water bottles go to landfill for a total of 35 billion plastic water bottles every year (Brita).
  • 17 Million barrels of oil are required to produce water bottles every year.
  • 3 Liters of water are required to produce every empty 1 Liter bottle.
  • Many bottles contain BPA or similar hormone mimicking compounds – the FDA has expressed some concern about potential effects of BPA on the brain, behavior, and prostate glands in fetuses, infants, and children.
  • Water in bottled water is in many cases more toxic than tap water.

What else is wrong with plastic water bottles? Plastics do not biodegrade – they go through a process called photo-degradation. This means the bottles do not decompose. When they are exposed to sunlight they will break down into smaller and smaller pieces. They go away as they break down; every bottle lost to the oceans is still there. Greenpeace has stated that microscopic pieces of plastic from a one liter bottle could end up on every mile of beach throughout the world.

Once those bottles break down into microscopic pieces, they enter the food chain and wreak havoc. Aside from the millions of sea animals killed from plastic polluting the oceans, the chemicals used to produce the bottles leaches back into the ecosystem. For example, Health Impact News reported that 98% percent of the US population tested resulted in a positive result for BPA.

Bottled Water Health Concerns

The bottom line is, bottled water may not be safe for all consumers. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) conducted a study of 1,000 bottles of water. From their study, the NRDC identified that 25% or greater of all bottles in the United States are simply tap water packaged for consumers.

The NRDC also identified that several manufactures may produce a health risk for people with weakened immune systems including  frail elderly, some infants, transplant and cancer patients, or people with HIV/AIDS. And 22% of brands tested had chemical contaminants (in at least 1 sample) greater than state health limits allow.

Bottled water safety and health is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (so long as it crosses state lines). Since 70% of bottled water stays within the state where it is produced, it is exempt from FDA governance. Conversely, all tap water remains under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency, and is regularly inspected for bacteria and toxic chemicals.

What Can Be Done?

  • Don’t buy bottled water!
  • Conserve water wherever possible – the tap will always be most efficient.
  • If you are going to use disposable water bottles, recycle them! We must be more diligent about using recycling programs for plastics, paper products, and our electronic devices.
  • You have many green product choices as opposed to the plastic water bottles you purchase; use glass, recycled glass, or a stainless steel container.
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