Reducing our bottled water consumption in favor of more eco-friendly alternatives can help us tap into big savings and a cleaner environment.
It’s no secret that we love our bottled water, and we’re not alone. According to the consulting firm Beverage Marketing Corp., Americans consumed 8.7 billion gallons of bottled water in 2008. Unfortunately, that adds up to a lot of empty PET plastic water bottles; and, of those, only 30.9 percent were recycled in 2008, per a November 2009 report by the International Bottled Water Association. While this reflected a year-over-year improvement of 32 percent over 2007 rates, the bottom line is there’s still a lot of empty water bottles clogging up our landfills–not to mention the thousands carelessly discarded by the roadside or floating in creeks, rivers and the ocean.
Not only are we spending a fortune on bottled water ($1 or more per 16.9-ounce bottle versus less than one-tenth of a cent for one gallon of tap water!), but the production costs for bottled water are extremely high as well. Researchers Peter Gleick and Heather Cooley of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, Calif., found that producing bottled water requires between 5.6 and 10.2 million joules of energy per liter, depending on transportation factors, which is up to 2,000 times the energy required to produce tap water.
Furthermore, the Pacific Research Institute estimates it takes 17 million barrels of oil to create 28 billion water bottles, plus additional oil for bottled water distribution. PRI also says manufacturing releases more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide, and the process consumes three liters of water to produce a single liter of bottled water. As we all know when we open our utility bill each month, energy costs are at a premium right now, so the exorbitant amount of energy required to produce and supply bottled water translates into millions of dollars each year.
These costs could be cut dramatically by simply drinking tap water instead of buying bottled water. However, some folks have concerns about the safety of our tap water. Tap water, though, is strictly monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has strong requirements in place for tap water quality. All tap water utility companies must adhere to these guidelines. Bottled water, on the other hand, falls under the purview of the Food and Drug Administration, which has much less stringent rules for bottled water, and those only apply to bottled water that travels across state lines. Plus, much of today’s bottled water is actually tap water that may or may not undergo additional filtration, purification and enhancements such as adding minerals.
Therefore, tap water is actually better for you. But for those who want the perceived “safety” of bottled water without actually purchasing bottled water, the way to go is with an in-home water filtration system. These can be as simple as a water filtration pitcher, like Brita’s line of pitchers, or something a little more involved, such as Culligan’s Aqua-Cleer® Drinking Water System, which mounts under the kitchen sink and includes a separate faucet to deliver filtered water. Another option is a faucet mount filtration system like PUR’s one-click faucet water filter that attaches to an existing water faucet.
All of these filters work in a similar fashion to reduce certain industrial and agricultural pollutants, heavy metals, sediments, and chlorine by-products. A review of the product’s information reveals exactly what contaminants each filter targets.
For those who still want their water to go, try Filtrete’s Water Station, which filters water directly from the tap into four reusable water bottles. Reusable stainless steel water bottles, such as those from Klean Kanteen, also offer the convenience of bottled water without the high price tag since you can refill them as needed.
Yes, water is a necessity none of us can live without, but we all can live without the high costs and harmful environmental impacts that accompany bottled water. Now is the time to battle our bottled water addiction; not only will it benefit Mother Nature, but it also will mean more money in our wallets–a win-win for all!