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  • Writer's pictureChandana Banerjee

What's the Good, Bad & Ugly about Bottled Water?

#BottledWater may seem like a boon when you’re thirsty on a hot day and haven’t carried drinking #water with you. But there’s a heavy price to pay for that momentary relief. Not only is the water in those #disposable bottles not as pure as you think, but once you chuck it in the bin or on street corners, it’ll go on to harm more creatures in its 1000+ year lifetime.

The good about bottled water:

Stacked in kiosks, restaurants and grocery stores, bottled water brings relief to weary shoppers, who haven’t carried their own drinking water from home. Staying hydrated is recommended, but the question is whether it should be at the cost of your own health, the life of animals and marine creatures, and the well-being of the Earth?

The Bad about bottled water:

In the U.S. alone, 1,500 plastic water bottles are consumed every second. As trendy as it may be to sip from plastic disposable water bottles, these bottles do more harm than good. Plastic bottles contain BPA – Bisphenol A, a chemical that makes plastic clear and hard. It is also an endocrine disruptor that is linked to several health problems, including neurological difficulties, cancer, early puberty in girls, decreased fertility in women, birth defects and premature labor. BPA enters our bodies when we drink from these bottles.

Bottled water also contains phthalates, which have an endocrine-disrupting effect on the body and cause a wide range of health issues like reduced sperm count, gender development issues and testicular abnormality. BPA and phatalates leach into the water when the bottles are exposed to excess heat – while transferring from one destination to another, in storefronts, and in cars.

The Ugly about single-use water bottles:

Plastic bottles and bottle tops (most of these cannot be recycled as they are made of a different kind of plastic) are fatal to marine animals, and these leach carcinogens into the ground and methane into the air, when dumped in landfills.

A report called the Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans by Greenpeace in 2006 stated that 267 different marine species have suffered from ingestion and entanglement of plastic debris. Another study by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that plastic debris kills about 100,000 marine mammals as well as millions of fish and birds annually.

What is frightening is that the amount of plastic bottles being manufactured and used is only increasing by leaps and bounds. This translates into more bottles being disposed off into landfills and the oceans, polluting the land, air and water. A report published by The Guardian in June 2017 states that a million plastic bottles are being bought across the world every minute and that the number will increase by another 20% by 2021. This will create serious environmental issues, including climate change.

What you may not know about bottled water:

Another fact that many of us don’t know about the manufacturing of plastic bottles is that these are a petroleum product that requires enormous amount of fossil fuels. So, if you were to fill a plastic bottle with water to its 25% capacity, that’s exactly how much of fossil fuel required to make a bottle. Come to think of it, for a single-use, disposable product, that’s a huge amount of fuel. Add to that the amount of fuel used to transport the bottles to stores and hotels, and you have a fuel crisis on your hands.

What can we do about the humongous environmental problem caused by disposable plastic bottles?

Photo credit: Wise Bread

1. Reduce: Stop buying disposable bottled water altogether. It’s not difficult to carry a steel bottle of water from home. Also, let’s not fall prey to the advertising that tells us that bottled water is purer because when you think of all the BPA in it, it surely can’t be safer than your RO water from home.

2. Recycle: If you have disposable bottles at home or know of restaurants or hotels that hand out these bottles, ask them to recycle these instead of sending it to the landfill.

3. Refuse: If you’re staying at a hotel or eating out at a restaurant, refuse bottled water and request a jug of water instead.

Here's more about how plastics affect our oceans, in this article.

Call to action: What will you do to help reduce the consumption of bottled water?

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