Everywhere you turn, you see signs that urge people to “Go Green!,” by turning off their lights when leaving a room, carpooling, and buying hybrid cars. There is no doubt that these things can conserve energy and reduce harmful emissions. A lot of emphasis has also been placed on recycling. The recycling industry can now handle and process more material than ever before, making it possible to toss just about everything into the recycling bin.
Among the items that people drop into the blue bin are water bottles. These bottles are supposed to contain the purest, most natural and clean drinking water from water springs and wells. In the U.S., purified water is available at every store, on practically every street in the country. As a result, Americans consume more water from water bottles than any other nation’s people, downing a whopping 29 million bottles per year, according a National Geographic study.
While this might sound quite ordinary and seem like nothing to be concerned about, you might want to look at the environmental effects of water bottle consumption.
- Oil Guzzling
What many Americans do not realize is that while water bottles do provide them with clean drinking water, these bottles add to environmental pollution in different ways. Statistics Brain estimates that about 2.6 billion cases of water are sold every year. This means that millions of gallons of oil are used to create these cases of water — about 17 million cases of crude oil annually, to be exact. The National Geographic study also found that the amount of oil used to make bottled water could be used to fuel at least a million cars for an entire year.
- Recycling Myth
The truth about recycling water bottles is that they are simply not recycled much. Studies show that of the 167 bottles that the average person consumes on yearly basis, only about 38 of them are recycled. This works out to only about 13% of bottles actually making to recycling, which leaves the rest to landfills, where they will take at least 450 years to decompose, according to the U.S. National Park Service. Also, what people do not realize is that not all bottled water comes from a natural spring source. Depending on the label, you might just be drinking glorified tap water in the first place.
- Energy Wastage
Along with the amount of oil that it takes to create water bottles, there is also a great deal of energy expended in the process. A recent study from two researchers from the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California, found that about 5.6 to 10.2 million joules of energy are being used to produce bottles of water, per liter. This means that it takes 2,000 times more energy to produce bottled water than it does to create safe tap water. These numbers include manufacturing the plastic, creating bottles, filling them, sealing them, and also transporting them to the desired location.
What these statistics point to is that Americans must be more savvy when considering their clean drinking water options. Stainless steel containers and or reusable Nalgene bottles might be a better choice. Many homes also have water filtration systems in their fridges and ones that can be connected to a regular sink faucet.
There is nothing wrong with drinking all the purified water you want, or even buying purified water once in a while. Just keep your bottled drinking water purchases to a minimum, if possible.