- The source
Over 25% of bottled water comes from the municipal supply (tap water). The water then goes through a treatment process, and is resold to us for thousands of times the cost. So even though the label shows a majestic scene of mountains, or glaciers, they aren’t required to list the source of their water. This is extremely confusing, because you don’t know what you’re actually drinking.
Another thing they don’t want you to know is that a lot of the water comes from drought ridden places like California. Americans consume approximately 8.6 billion gallons of bottled water each year. Of that, about 3.1 billion gallons comes from the 110 water bottling plants in California.
Some of these bottling operations are extracting water that they are not permitted to take. After a nearly 2-year investigation, The State Water Board of California determined that of the more than 62 million gallons of water that Nestle has extracted from San Bernardino each year on average from 1947 to 2015 they may only have had permits for around 8 million of those gallons per year. This means that Nestle has taken over 3.6 billion gallons of water from California, without oversight, and made profit on it.
- Chemical Leeching
You’ve probably heard about BPA and the health risks associated with it, because of the way it mimics estrogen. What you may not know is that researchers found 95% of BPA free plastics leeched other chemicals that have a similar estrogen-mimicking effect.
The main problem is that the impacts to human health from these various chemical replacements to BPA have not been well studied. What is known is that they mimic estrogen, which can wreak havoc on your endocrine system. The effects of external estrogen on the human body has been linked to: weight gain, prostate cancer, and breast cancer.
Sometimes you can’t avoid using a plastic bottle, and in those instances, experts recommend that you don’t reuse the bottle, because then even more chemicals will leech out. A recent study found that the average bottle of water contains over 10 particles of plastic. When you consider that the worldwide consumption of bottled water is about 1.4 Billion bottles per day, it adds up quick.
- Environmental impact
It’s true, you aren’t going to drop dead tomorrow from a micro plastic particle, but by far the largest cost of choosing plastic bottles is to the environment. Maybe you’re the type of person who says to yourself: “It’s ok, because I’m going to recycle this bottle when I’m done.” That would be a fair justification, if the bottle were in fact fully recyclable. However what many people don’t realize is that of the 6 billion pounds of plastic bottles that get tossed annually, only about 30% gets recycled. Most plastic bottles end up in landfills, our oceans, or in an incinerator.
Plastic bottles take 450 years to decompose, so the plastic water bottle that you’re drinking today will be around until the year 2469. When plastic ends up in the ocean, they starts to deteriorate from the salt and the sun, but it just breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces, it doesn’t actually go away (most plastic pieces in the ocean are smaller than 1cm in size, weighing 1/10th as much as a paper clip). These pieces then accumulate into patches due to the ocean currents, and are consumed by fish and other marine life. The most well known of these has been dubbed “the great pacific garbage patch” however there are actually 5 enormous accumulations of garbage scattered throughout the world’s oceans.
There is still hope; a program has been launched called The Ocean Cleanup, which uses autonomous floating systems to capture, and collect plastic, so that boats can come and extract it. At the end of the day, the wise thing to do is to make the switch to a glass or stainless steel bottle. Many of which have the added benefit of being double walled and thus will keep your drinks hot or cold for hours, while eliminating the potential health risks of drinking out of plastic. Plus it’s better for the environment, and will save you and your family hundreds of dollars per year compared to buying plastic bottles.