Is Plastic Bottled Water Hurting Our Environment?

Water is one of the most important natural resources necessary to facilitate life. With the human population growing, clean water is becoming ever more important. For many people, bottled water is a “healthier” alternative to tap water. As far as convenience is concerned, many people still prefer bottler water to tap water because of its accessibility. Bottled water is sold many places that are easily accessible to people. Unfortunately, bottled water is not only costly but also has a negative impact on our environment.

Many people seldom refill up their used water bottles and instead get new ones. According to the Pacific Institute, “Similarly, bottled water that requires long-distance transport is far more energy-intensive than bottled water produced and distributed locally.”  This statement is critical because it helps reveal the actual cost of having bottled water readily available. Instead of continuing to purchase cheap bottled water, it may be more environmentally and economically responsible to invest in better infrastructure to promote clean water available through tap.  According to the Earth Policy Institute, “more than 30 billon disposable water bottles are discarded each year in the United States, with the average American being responsible for 166 bottles per year.” This staggering amount of plastic bottle use is concerning especially since most of this plastic will end up in a landfill and slowly degrade for centuries.

The need to invest in better water infrastructure is great. By promoting tap water consumption and improving its accessibility many people may stop relying on plastic bottled water. By changing people’s perceptions of plastic bottle use, the environment will be that much cleaner and less polluted.



Gleick, P.H. and H. Cooley. 2009. Energy implications of bottled water. Environmental Research Letters.

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Budzaj, D. 2012. U Installs Water Refill Stations, Supports Use of Reusable Water Bottles. water-bottles.




  1. I agree that plastic water bottles are a large threat to our environment, plastic in general is a large threat to the environment. I think everyone should start taking steps towards cutting as much plastic out of their daily lives as possible, not just water bottles. For example, straws are another item that we should be trying to eliminate. There a few solutions to this; you could just drink your drink without a straw, but if you prefer to use straws, you could buy a metal or silicone reusable straw that you can take out with you wherever you go. I think that we should also try to limit the amount of plastic utencils we use. For example, if you go out to get a cup of ice cream at an ice cream stand they will most likely give you a plastic spoon. Or if you get take out dinner you will most likely get plastic silverware. I think it is a great idea for each of us to keep a little container or bag with one metal (or any reusable material) spoon, fork and knife in our cars, purses, etc. That way, when you go out you can use that instead of using plastic utencils and then throwing them away. There are so many steps that we could take to make changes for our environment!

  2. Madison Bridget Laezzo

    Water is definitely something that people for granted because there has never been a time where there was a shortage of water or even a threat of having no water. However, in areas even in the United States, people are having difficulty finding quality drinking water. In addition to the water itself, plastic bottles are becoming more of an issue because of the detrimental effects that they have on the environment. I know that personally, when I used plastic water bottles, I would always reuse mine because I didn’t see the purpose in throwing it out after one use. Now, I use a reusable water bottle that is even better because I don’t have to worry about throwing out my plastic water bottles and hurting the environment. I think that the option of promoting clean water available through the tap sounds like a good idea because it causes people to go out and buy a reusable water bottle and refill it up as much as they want. However, I feel that society today likes to have things quickly and efficiently. People live such busy lives so they may not have the time to remember to fill up their reusable bottle or even remember to bring their bottle. If they go into a coffee shop to order their beverage, they may see a plastic water bottle and decide to purchase that instead because it is right there and ready to go for them to buy and drink. In addition, I think that getting all towns, states and the country in totality to promote clean tap water to drink will be a difficult task to take one. Will the federal government pay for this, or will states have to each pay? In places like Flint, Michigan, their tap water is brown and cannot even be used to clean a dish with. They are still having problems with having a sufficient amount of clean water, so I can only imagine how long it would take for all of the United States and other countries to convert to clean, drinkable tap water. In addition, tap water has many bad chemicals in it that it may be extremely difficult to remove from the water. These chemicals have very serious effects as the ones mentioned in “Chemicals in tap water could cause 100,000 cases of cancer in U.S.” A combination of chemicals including arsenic and radioactive chemicals that are actually used to disinfect the water can cause cancers and other illnesses (Gibson, 2019). Even using simple water filters such as Brita can still leave small traces of harmful chemicals. I think that the first step is the address the large amount of plastic water bottles being thrown out and harming the environment. I feel that this initiative may be easier to initially implement rather than trying to purify all tap water. In addition, besides water bottles, most of our containers of fruit we buy from the store or our take- out containers are plastic which are just as harmful to the environment as water bottles. Today, there is a large emphasis on switching from plastic to paper straws. While this is a step in the right direction, straws are a rather portion of plastic use and instead plastic food containers use more plastic and are thrown out more readily. I believe that if society can look at their daily habits of how much plastic they use, they can begin to realize that they should cut back on using them in order to help the environment. Great post!

    Gibson, K. (2019). Chemicals in tap water could cause 100,000 cases of cancer in U.S. Retrieved from

  3. I agree with you! Plastic bottles are the scourge of the environment. They should be the face of pollution in the dictionary, due to its convenience in today’s modern world. People would much rather pick up the water bottle and keep it moving rather than use a re-fillable bottle with tap water. Tackling this issue could dramatically reduce our plastic use with just water bottles alone.

    Since about “1500 plastic water bottles are used every second in the United States alone”, it would be a dream to take this number and dramatically reduce it to just the hundreds (Butler, 2018). This can be done by the use of glass or aluminum up-cycled to help reduce the use. These items break down easier in landfills than plastic. Recycling is the number one way to ensure that plastic stays out of the ocean (Butler, 2018). Even then, it is noted that recycling centers would “dump recyclables instead” if there isn’t enough room for them (Butler, 2018). So, keep re-using plastic bags and ensure all plastics have some sort of purpose in your home to help reduce the number that ends up in the ocean.

    Butler, G. (2018, May 10). Plastic Bottle Oceans. Retrieved from

  4. Madison Bridget Laezzo

    Hi Iana! I liked how you brought up the issue of harming the environment and how dangerous it is, but then mention how many people care more about their own health than the environment itself. I agree with you that plastic is becoming a very large issue in society because almost everything we use has plastic in it. Most recently, the efforts that I have seen is transferring from plastic to metal or paper straws. I myself agree with the initiative to lower the amount of plastic use; however, I know that some people are not so receptive to the alternatives. Paper straws get very wet and, lose it shape and causes the beverage to taste like paper. In addition, metal straws can be somewhat expensive and they are harder to clean and maintain. In my opinion, I think that the recent popularization of paper and metal straws has just begun and are in their beginning stages. As times goes on, I think that companies will learn how to makes better paper straws that won’t have all the problems that the current ones do and I think that metal straws may become easier to use. As you mentioned with the plastic and how plastic can end up in our food, I do think this is also a serious problem. No one really thinks twice about plastic being harmful to people’s health because we only hear about it being detrimental to the environment. However, after reading about Bisphenol A, it is something that people should be aware of. In an article by the Washington Post (Brissette, 2018), plastic straws are also found to contain chemicals from polypropylene that can be effected when exposed to different environments. I know that in the past, I have heated food up in a plastic container and the food began to taste like the plastic. I’m not sure if I was ingesting the chemicals described previously, but it definitely opened up my eyes to the possibility that chemicals from the container can be contaminating my food. A question that I would have is, why is this topic not being made more apparent in society? Like you mentioned, people care more about their health than the environment. If this is the case, then facts about chemicals from plastic being transferred to food should be more popular because this may be an incentive for people to stop using plastic. Instead of doing it for the environment, people will stop using plastic so they can stay healthier, while simultaneously saving the environment. Great post!
    Brissette, C. (2018, July 3). Plastic straws aren’t just bad for the environment – they can be bad for your body. Retrieved from–they-can-be-bad-for-your-body/2018/07/02/d682fdfe-7964-11e8-aeee-4d04c8ac6158_story.html

  5. The more garbage there is on the planet, the more harmful the environment we live in, the air we breathe and the water we drink. Let’s call it a systemic problem. But let’s be honest: more often people are concerned about the local issue of their own health, rather than the environmental situation in the oceans and nature.
    So, you buy water in a plastic bottle. What is happening? What harmful substances enter your body? Do they poison? Do they cause cancer? To be honest, there is almost nothing to worry about, otherwise plastic containers would have been banned long ago. Several assumptions and hypotheses are claiming that the contact of different types of plastic with water leads to the ingress of carcinogenic compounds into the liquid, but there is no direct evidence of this.
    In January 2010, the FDA suddenly issued a large material about the potential harm of plastic containers for water and food, and, moreover, described very specific diseases and their causes. Bisphenol A (C15H16O2), one of the main components of plastic, was recognized as a dangerous substance. It has been shown that when heated or stored for a long time in a container containing bisphenol A, it goes into food and can lead to serious poisoning, in particular, to damage hormonal function and reduce the number of thyroid hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Therefore, in several countries around the world after the publication of the report, the use of plastics containing bisphenol A in baby food containers and feeding bottles was banned.
    There are several other studies on this topic. All the results come down to one conclusion: it is possible to store water and food products in plastic. But not too long (for different plastics-different timeline). And it is not necessary to heat at all, especially over 60 °C.


    Thacker, P. (2018, September 12). Scientists know plastics are dangerous. Why won’t the government say so? The Washington Post. Retrieved from

    The FDA Declares that Bisphenol A is Safe, Despite Scientific Evidence (n.d.) UCS. Retrieved from

  6. The water bottle issue is a huge problem. 1500 plastic water bottles are used every second in the United States (2018). A lot of them end up in our oceans. This is due to wrong waste management and illegal activities (2018). This plastic is mistakenly eaten by fish which can cause them to die. Small animals can get stuck in plastic and also perish.

    I think the government should definitely fix the water crisis in Flint Michigan. They definitely are in need of clean tap water. They also use an unseemly amount of water bottles because they have no other option. According to an article written about Flint, the residents use bottled water to drink, bathe, and flush their toilets (Fonger & Fonger, 2018).
    If we try and put our best effort forward there are many solutions we can implement to solve the dilemma. I think it would be better for our environment to use technology to make clean water purifiers for people who do not have access to fresh water. I also think that people who prefer to drink out of water bottles have other options. They can buy a water filter or a jug with a filter already installed. Another option is to buy a huge water dispenser that requires you to refill the 5-gallon bottle at your local supermarket. This option is also more cost-effective than consistently buying water bottles. I didn’t know this before but reading the other replies I have realized that some tap water is actually healthier than bottled water. This would be good for people who think water bottles are healthier to know. The final solution I can offer is to just raise awareness of the problem at hand. Getting people educated and spreading helpful tactic and information to the general population.

    Fonger, R., & Fonger, R. (2018, March 14). Flint bottled water being used for everything from drinking to toilet flushing. Retrieved from
    Plastic Bottle Oceans. (2018, May 10). Retrieved from

  7. I agree with you! I think plastic use has gone out of control. The glorification of bottled water keeps adding plastic to the landfills and makes bottled water brands richer. There is evidence that tap water is safer and healthier than bottled water. A study in Cleveland revealed that only 5% of all bottled water studied fell within the guidelines of required fluoride range, as opposed to 100% of tap water studied. This information needs to be delivered to the public to get rid of the myth that tap water is not safe to drink. In addition, single use plastic bottles need to be replaced with products that can be reusable. There are companies that are coming up with aluminum or stainless steel bottles to avoid so much plastic use. I am guilty of using single use plastic bottles in the past, but I completely changed that a few years ago.

  8. I definitely agree that something needs to be done in order to curb the amount of single-use plastic waste that ends up in our landfills and oceans. Bottled water is among the ones that create the most waste. Something that you didn’t expand on is that while some people believe that bottled water is “healthier” than tap water or that it has a better taste, there is some research that suggests that this is not true. There exists a law that says that community water systems must regularly tell consumers about the quality of the local tap water, and such a law does not exist for the reporting on quality of bottled water (Lalumandier, 2000). There have also been studies that show very similar levels of fluoride and bacteria in both bottled water and tap water (Lalumandier, 2000).

    I think that using a similar approach to plastic grocery bags can be used to help reduce the use of single-use plastic water bottles. Really push the use of reusable water bottles and perhaps make filtered water refill stations more available in public so that people can refill their water bottles with water that makes them feel as though it is of a higher quality. Either way, something has to be done. We no longer buy bottled water and I have instead been using a vacuum insulated large tumbler (like the Yeti brand) that keeps my water nice and cold for 12+ hours. I’ll never go back to bottled water!


    Lalumandier, J. A. “Fluoride and Bacterial Content of Bottled Water vs Tap Water.” Archives of Family Medicine, vol. 9, no. 3, 2000, pp. 246–250., doi:10.1001/archfami.9.3.246.

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