Why bottled water is unhealthy, environmentally unfriendly, & a joke
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*Gasp!* How could bottled water be unhealthy? It is water after all.
Let’s start with the water itself. Bottled water is not nearly as strictly regulated as tap water. Tap water is regulated by the EPA, which requires municipalities to have their water quality tested annually by certified laboratories, and then provide the results to the public. Bottled water, on the other hand, is regulated by the FDA, which does not have the regulatory power to require bottled water companies to test water using certified labs or to provide the results of any testing to the public. Even if high levels of contaminants are found in the water, companies do not need to report the test results. While state standards are often stricter than the FDA’s standards, they are typically still more slack than those for tap water. This is concerning given the fact that almost 50% of bottled water is municipal tap water that has not been treated or filtered.
Now onto the little plastic bottles. Nearly all of American water bottles begin in the Flint Hills Refinery Complex in Corpus Christie, Texas, where the people in the surrounding communities have suffered as a result of their production: the town sees higher rates of cancer, birth defects (84% higher than the state average), and respiratory problems. This suffering is a direct result of the harmful chemicals used in production of the plastic. Many of these chemicals end up in the final plastic product, and then leech into the water. Studies have found that some of the chemicals found in bottled water are either well-known carcinogens or are known to cause obesity, diabetes, brain disorders, liver disease, ovarian disease, low sperm count, and more.
Bottled water is bottled in PET or PETE, which is derived from crude oil (80% of PET manufactured in the US goes to soda manufacturers, including their bottled water products). Plastic water bottle manufacturing uses 714 million gallons of oil every year, enough oil to fuel 100,000 cars.
In addition to consuming our natural resources to make the bottles, the entire bottled water process uses fuel for energy: energy to transport the water, energy to filter it (if they do filter it), energy to bottle the water, energy to label and box the bottles, energy to ship the bottles, etc. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that the energy required to bring a typical 1-liter bottle of water to a US consumer is 1,100 to 2,000 times higher than the energy cost of producing tap water. And all of this energy inevitably releases greenhouse gasses and other pollutants.
In 2007, Americans bought more than 29 billion bottles of water.
The bottled water industry is worth 800 billion dollars (and primarily run by the large soda corporations).
The cost of bottled water is more than the cost of gasoline.
Bottled water is sold to people at 1,900 times the price of municipal tap water yet…
Almost half of all bottled water is simply municipal tap water that has been packaged in little plastic bottles (the real kicker!).
Did I burst your plastic-water-bottle bubble? Don’t worry! There is a simple solution: buy a fantastic water filter and a glass water bottle. That’s all there is to it!
Read about what’s in your water if you need extra convincing to make the investment in a quality filter (and no, I’m not talking about a pitcher filter; those don’t do very much) – it is one of the best investments you can make in your health.
Sources and further reading
- Environmental Working Group, Bottled Water Scorecard
- Tapped (documentary free online)
- US Government Accountability Office, FDA Safety and Consumer Protections Are Often Less Stringent Than Comparable EPA Protections for Tap Water
- Business Insider, 15 Outrageous Facts About The Bottled Water Industry
Nancy Condit, the minerals that are in the water are notoriously hard to absorb, essentially liquid gravel. In my opinion, it’s better to take everything out, because I can always replace the minerals with a quality supplement that’s absorbable. Granted, not the simple way to do things.
While I understand where they are coming from, it kills me the people who say they can’t afford a filtering system of some kind, but they can afford to keep buying bottles water. At the very least, a Brita system doesn’t cost much. And the MultiPure system is another good one.
reverse osmosis does take out the chemicals but it also takes out things that the body needs to function properly.there is an awesome company that sells water filter systems called Multi-Pure it even filters out Arsenic it doesn’t however filter out floride unfortunately, they are working on that at this time, there is NOT a filter that can do that and meet the guidelines as given by the NSF.if you consider the costs a filter system by Multi-pure costs about 9 cents a gallon and is well worth the costs in my book.The Berkey water systems are not NSF certified so I would not trust it sorry.
SpoonFox: Try to add how much you spend on bottled water — a reverse-osmosis filter from Costco plus regular filters are likely to cost you less than bottled water, not to mention the schlepping and recycling you have to do.
The problem is those filters are way more expensive than I can afford. Even if I saved up for the filtration system, just changing the filters regularly would cost more than I can afford. I’m unfortunately a disabled mom with a disabled spouse. I don’t have a lot of money so I do my best just to afford us a step better than tap water so we don’t have to deal with fluoride. Health is very, very important to me, but I can still only live within my means.
Ugh, mine too! But many water filters remove fluoride. Cheap filters like Brita & Pur use an “activated carbon” filter that does not remove fluoride. But reverse osmosis, deionizers, and filters that use ion-exchange resin or activated alumina remove fluoride. I have these special filters for my Berkey system: http://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/pf-4-fluoride-and-arsenic-filters-4.html
The water in my town is full of fluoride :c
I’m against drinking fluoridated water but no normal filtering system removes fluoride.
The only choice that leaves me with is bottled water of one kind or another.
I chose a brand that does not contain fluoride and did my best shopping around for healthy sourcing.
But what can I do? I can’t drink fluoridated water, my town isn’t interested in changing the fluoride contents of the water, and thus the only option I have is bottled water.
What do you recommend if you need more water in a day than you can carry with you in one bottle?
If you absolutely have to for some reason Poland Spings is better. Still in a plastic bottle. It comes from a lake and stream in Maine that is surrounded by State Park and is the only industry by the lake. Not many sources to introduce pollution
We just relocated to Central America and have been buying bottled water for the past week. We are waiting for our shipment from the states to be delivered to us (hopefully this week). Then I can have my water purifier and have pure water all the time.
Right now I trust bottled water more than our tap water. It just is a fact of life for these folks here in this area. I hate all the trash that it causes though. But we need water to survive.
Hi, Spring. I think you are missing my point. I also agree with Deanna. I have talked about the atrocity that is most tap water before (https://bodyunburdened.com/whats-in-your-water/). What I am saying is that the most economical, healthy, and environmentally friendly option is buying a fantastic water filter rather than bottled water. I have this fluoride and arsenic filter for my Berkey: http://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/pf-2-arsenic-and-fluoride-water-filters-2.html. If you do the math, you will see that most families of 4 could buy multiple quality filters for the price they spend on bottled water in a year (my family used to buy it ALL the time – it gets expensive!).
And while it’s truly great that your local water bottling plant is to eco-conscious, that’s just one little plant. And aI stick by my above points: an immense amount of energy going into making those little bottles (which also causes pollution) as well as the bottling and shipping processes, no matter how environmentally friendly the plant.
I have to echo Deanna Munson’s comment. A lot, if not most tap water is not safe to drink. I refuse to drink public/city tap water. We do receive the published tap water analysis from our town and that is what I would call a joke. Yes, they do disclose the info about what’s coming out if the tap, but nowhere does the disclosure indicate the water should be consumed! Quite the opposite! Some tap water is so heavily chlorinated it smells like a swimming pool. How safe is that?
We have well water. Safe? Nope. Much of the ground water in our state contains unsafe levels of arsenic. Our tap water tested out as containing highly unsafe arsenic levels. Bladder cancer anyone? BTW, you can’t filter out arsenic with traditional filters.
As far as bottled water, I’m sorry, but I believe targeting bottled water as the pointless evil that people make it out to be is just not right. Our local bottling plant is an extremely Eco-conscious company. You can question the motives (being Eco conscious actually saves money, and wins loyal customers) but you their practices stand proven. They are constantly redesigning the bottles to use less plastic, and they have always been BPA free. They join with environmental efforts, and donate truckloads of water to states that have been hit by disaster. I could go on…
If our tap water was safe to drink, would we drink it? Yes! But I also don’t believe that drinking bottled water is a lesser evil. People who consume bottled water for Eco friendly reasons, but who wear store bought clothes, eat food that is not organic and free range, drive or ride in cars, or bycycles (rubber tires made in factories), use any type of paper (our state also has a large paper mill- ever drive past one???) use heat, cooling or any modern amenity is contributing to some sort of atrocity, often far worse than drinking bottles water.
Are some factories just plain rotten and should be shut down? Yes! But I just don’t understand the public shaming of bottled water. I WISH more producers of water followed the example of our local company.
(BTW, our local bottling plant is owned by a large parent company, of which most of their products I don’t consume because of their support for Monsanto. The sad truth is, some things aren’t black and white in this messed up world.)
So please keep fighting the good fight. I follow your blog and appreciate your insight.
Hey, Jamie. Check out EWG’s water filter buying guide as a start: http://www.ewg.org/report/ewgs-water-filter-buying-guide
Hello! I’m in college and in no way can afford to buy an expensive water-filtering system. Any inexpensive yet effective water filtering options that you suggest? Thank you!!
thats because they are profiting by poisoning the tap water in every way concievable.here it was an “epa” “sustainability” grant for wastewater treatment that converted our public water supply to recycled traffic polluted runoff.its so heavily fluoridated and chlorinated it burns my eyes.they say they test it,but they arent testing it from my tap.i have personally witnessed the water bureau pumping the chlorine and whatever other chemicals they use down a manhole,so they arent testing the water after the chemicals are added because they are added between where the waterlines begin and the residents tap.i live on pennies,pay a huge amount for water sewer garbage (a bill they split up equally between all tenants here) and cant even bathe in it without a 108$ shower fliter that only lasts 8 months.i refill jugs at the nearest store with a filtering machine so the reverse osmosis can remove the chemicals.and reverse osmosis only removes a percentage.nestle is being allowed to drain underground aquifiers that took the earth 10 million years to accumulate.they are draining lakes and streams for almost free and selling our resources back to us like it was gold.all the while fracking corporations are being allowed to destroy watertables round the globe.theyre all the same money at the top folks.there are only 1460 people with billionaire income or above on this globe,and they own these corporations controlling and destroying our resources,many times with federal funding from”sustainability”grants the corporate lobbys bribed our “public representatives” for..it profits them to poison the water supplies.