Monday, May 11, 2009

Why bottled water isn't so great after all

At first glance bottled water seems like the ideal thing. What could be better than weaning more people off of pop and other unhealthy drinks? And getting us to drink more water is great for our health. Yes, but there is so much more to bottled water than meets the eye. When you consider that most of us have easy access to safe drinking water right out of our tap, the environmental toll of bottled water (which is huge) seems so pointless.

Consider this:

More than 40% of bottled water is just tap water anyway. (Coca-Cola’s Dasani brand comes out of taps in Calgary and Brampton.)

It takes about 250 ml of oil to produce one litre of bottled water. That includes the oil used to make the plastic bottle and gas to ship the filled bottle halfway across the country. When you factor in processing, it takes about three litres of water to make one litre of bottled water.

The explosion in popularity of bottled water has caused an explosion of sorts in the landfill. Less than 25% of water bottles end up being recycled. Millions and millions go in the trash.

Disposable plastic water bottles are not meant for multiple uses. They’re made with #1 polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is fine for a single use, but reuse can lead to bacterial growth and leaching of chemicals.

Have you noticed that water cooler bottles are made with #7 plastic? That’s the plastic that contains Bisphenol A, the hormone disruptor that has been banned from use in baby bottles.
And one more thing, for those of us who pay for municipal water, a litre of bottled water is about 3,000 times more expensive than a litre of tap water.

There are more than enough reasons to stop buying bottled water. So where do you begin?
Fill water bottles at home before you head out on a road trip or even if you’re just out and about for the afternoon. Make sure you have enough bottles for everyone in your family (and maybe a couple of extras).

Bring an empty bottle with you when you travel. Even when I travel for work I pack a water bottle that I fill from the bathroom tap in my hotel room. That way I’m not buying the expensive bottle of water in the room and can steer clear of plastic.

Buy a carbon filter for your kitchen tap if you don’t like the taste of your tap water. Or buy a filter jug to keep in your fridge.

At restaurants ask for tap water if they offer bottled water.

Convenience is a matter of perspective. In my opinion it’s easier and more eco-friendly and definitely cheaper to take full advantage of the safe drinking water from the kitchen tap.

This article was previously published in KV Style (


Gina Rau said...

So many reasons to not buy bottled water. We all have multiple Siggs and Nalgene bottles that we use every day, everywhere.

Although we avoid plastic bottles, they still make their way into our house: ketchup, shampoos, toothpaste, milk, etc. We just wrote about Aveda's bottle cap recycling program (which isn't that new but was new to me!) and are excited to get a little box going at home and the office.

You can read about it here.

Bridget Oland said...

Thanks for letting me know about the Aveda program. What a great idea. I'll be sure to look into it in my area.