The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

July 25, 2011

10 Reasons To Kick The Water Bottle Habit

Alice Jones Webb

TARBORO — In the current oppressive summer heat, keeping the body properly hydrated is essential.  Grabbing a prepackaged bottle of water may be super convenient, but it might not be the safest, healthiest or most responsible choice. It’s a common misconception that drinking bottled water is safer and healthier than water from your kitchen sink.  And, of course, since plastic bottles get recycled, we aren’t doing any harm to the environment, right?  Actually neither could be farther from the truth.  Here are 10 solid reasons to kick your water bottle habit.

1.    At least 40 percent of the bottled water in the United States is just filtered tap water anyway.  Check the label.  If it says “from a municipal water source” or “community water system” its source was the same as tap water.  If you want a little extra filtering, just purchase a counter filter like Brita or Pur, and filter your own tap water.

2.    Bottled water costs the consumer anywhere from $.89 to over $8.00 per gallon.  Tap water, on the other hand, costs only $.002 per gallon.  If you want to save money, ditch the bottled water.

3.    According to the Container Recycling Institute, 30 million plastic water bottles are thrown into landfills and waterways every day.  In fact, only about 12% of plastic bottles are actually recycled.

4.    Plastic water bottles often leach dangerous chemicals into the water (such as DEHP, a probable human carcinogen), especially when left in the heat/sun or reused.   

5.    The production of the polyethylene used to manufacture plastic bottles takes about 17.6 million barrels of oil each year.  That oil could fuel more than one million US vehicles annually.  Globally, 2.7 million TONS of plastic is used to bottle a variety of beverages.  Want to reduce our dependence on foreign oil?  Stop purchasing water packaged in plastic bottles.

6.    It can take as much as seven times the amount of water IN the bottle to actually manufacture the bottle itself.  In a world where fresh drinkable water is often in short supply, this is inexcusable.

7.    Right now there are about 37,000 tractor trailer trucks cruising the highways across this country delivering water.   Take a minute to think about the amount of gasoline used to fuel those trucks and the greenhouse gases being chugged out into the atmosphere.

8.    The Food and Drug Administration sets standards for bottled water.  The Environmental Protection Agency sets the standards for tap water, and their standards are much more stringent.

9.    Plastic bottles contain BPA (Bisphenol-A), a synthetic estrogen used to harden polycarbonate plastics. Even trace exposure to BPA disrupts the human endocrine system.  This toxic chemical can trigger chromosomal and reproductive system abnormalities, impaired brain and neurological functions, cancer, cardiovascular system damage, adult-onset diabetes, early puberty, obesity and resistance to chemotherapy.

10.    Around the world, more than 3,000 children die each day from diseases caught from unsafe drinking water.  Meanwhile, Americans spend about $16 billion dollars annually on bottled water, all while they enjoy some of the world’s safest tap water right at their fingertips.  It almost seems that money is just being washed down the drain when it could be doing something much more constructive.

Don’t kick the habit of drinking water.  Consuming water is one of our body’s basic needs.  Just kick the habit of consuming water wrapped in a plastic container.  If you like the convenience that disposable plastic water bottles provide, try a reusable water bottle.  Look for reusable bottles that are BPA free – aluminum bottles are a great replacement. Or just use a good old-fashioned glass.  

The Nature of Tarboro by Alice Jones Webb is a monthly column about wildlife and environmental issues specific to Tarboro and Edgecombe County.