50 years ago the thought of BUYING your drinking water would have seemed ridiculous, today this is an industry profiting in the hundreds of billions, with more than half of our population buying and drinking bottled water.
What are the reasons people drink bottled water? Most people believe that drinking bottled water is safer and cleaner than tap water. But they would be surprised to learn that the laws for regulating the bottled water industry are far more lax than those for tap water, and that up to 40% of bottled water is actually just bottled tap water. In fact, a few years ago Nestle Pure Life was forced to change their labels to more accurately describe where they source their water: public water sources.
This billion dollar industry is not only a heavy hitter on your wallet, but it is also misleadingly harmful to consumers' health and detrimental to the environment. Read on to learn more facts about bottled water:
- In the United States alone, over $100 billion dollars is spent on bottled water a year, the cost of bottled water is 240 to 10, 000 times the cost of tap water.
- Many plastic water bottles contain Bisphenal A (BPA), a toxic substance that has been proven to cause cancerous cells. In 2010, Canada became the first country to call BPA a toxic substance, and later the European Union and Canada began banning the use of BPA in baby bottles, however it has not yet been banned in water bottles.
- Have you ever left your water bottle in the car? The heat from a car on a sunny day can leach chemicals into your water that can lead to cancer. What about the transportation of water bottles? Water bottles go through miles of transportation, get stored in large warehouses, and shipped in the backs of trucks without cooling or refrigeration, all ways that chemicals can be leached into the water. A study done by the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) found that hormone-disrupting phthalates had leached into bottled water that had been stored for 10 weeks.
- Bottled water is also not always as safe as tap water; recently the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) completed a 4 year study of the bottled water industry. They tested 103 types of bottled water and found the following results:
- Nearly one in four of the waters contained more bacteria than allowed under microbiological purity "guidelines".
- Four waters (4%) violated the generally weak federal bottled water standards (two for excessive fluoride and two for excessive coliform bacteria)
- In eight cases arsenic was found in at least one test at a level of potential health concern.
- False Advertising: The NRDC also found that the labeling and marketing of some bottled water was misleading stating, "...one brand of 'spring water' whose label pictured a lake and mountains, actually came from a well in an industrial facility's parking lot, near a hazardous waste dump, and periodically was contaminated with industrial chemicals at levels above FDA standards."
- The production of water bottles uses 17 million barrels of oil a year, that is the equivalent of the fuel needed to keep 1 million vehicles on the road for 12 months.
- It takes three times more water to make a water bottle than it does to fill it.
- Over 80% of the water bottles used end up in landfills or the ocean, with only 13% being recycled.
- The Earth Policy Institute estimates that the water bottling industry, for the energy used to pump, process, transport and refrigerate bottled water, uses over 50 million barrels of oil annually.
With the global consumption of bottled water rising 10 percent each year, its time to take a look at the facts and know what type of industry we are really supporting, what risks we are taking with our health and what we are doing to the environment every time we purchase a bottle of water.
So, what are the alternatives?
- Get a water treatment system. Before making a switch to using tap water exclusively, it is important to know what is in your water, get your water tested in your town or city! Then you can make an informed decision about the type of water treatment system you should choose to treat your water.
- Lose the water bottles! BPA free water containers are now available wherever you shop, fill up at home and take it with you on the go!
- If you do choose to use bottled water, recycle! Water bottles are one of the largest contributors to pollution both on land and in the oceans.
For more facts on bottled water, visit the National Resources Defense Council's website.
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