According to the National Geographic, every single week, Americans buy the equivalent of 1.7 billion half-liter bottles of water. That's more than five bottles of water for every man, woman, and child in the country, every single week.
Single-use water bottles are convenient. They're inexpensive. And on the surface, they seem like a healthy choice, especially when you compare them to other on-the-go drinks like soda.
But is bottled water really good for you? And what about its impact on the environment?
Bottled water and your health
While most of the tap water in the first world is safe, much of it is also loaded with contaminants like chlorine, lead, and fluoride.
So many people believe that by buying bottled water, they're actually getting a better product; the manufacturers themselves tout it as "pure." For example, Coca-Cola advertises Dasani as "pure, still water." It's actually just purified tap water.
According to www.allaboutwater.org, because federal regulations define bottled water as a "food" product, the Food and Drug Administration monitors it. On the other hand, tap water is regulated with stricter standards by the Environmental Protection agency.
Yet one-fifth of the bottled water brand tested in a 1999 National Resources Defense Council study tested positive for the presence of synthetic chemicals, including those used in the manufacturing of plastic, like phthalate.
Here’s the kicker: as water bottles age, greater amounts of phthalate leach into the water—and the water bottles you buy at the store are often at least one year old.
In other words, in some cases when you drink bottled water, you may be drinking plastic.
Bottled water and the environment
Roughly 1.5 million tons of plastic are expended in the bottling of 89 billion liters of water each year. It's estimated that 38 billion water bottles end up in landfill sites worldwide each year … and it takes between 500 and 1000 years for plastic to decompose.
Aside from plastic waste, the energy required to manufacture and transport bottled water to market severely drains limited fossil fuels.
How to drink healthy—and take care of the planet
Water filters are simply the best, healthiest solution: without creating a negative environmental impact, they remove contaminants from water.
There are so many options for at-home filtration systems, but the best ones include a combination of carbon, charcoal, ceramic, sand, and cloth. This combination draws out all contaminants in your water to make sure it's completely healthy!
You can buy point-of-use filters, which attach to your tap, as well as pitcher-style filters you fill from the top and can keep in the fridge.
Then, buy a reusable water bottle.
Be sure to buy a stainless steel bottle, or a plastic one that doesn't contain BPA. Look for bottles made of plastics #2, #4, or #5, which are not known to leach.
Be cautious of reusable aluminum bottles which often look like stainless steel but in some cases can contain a BPA liner.
In conclusion …
Single-use water bottles have a significant negative impact on the environment and potentially on your health.
By using filtered water from home, and drinking out of reusable, BPA-free water bottles, you can enjoy healthier water and have less of an impact on the environment.
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