W&R 1 Final Draft
1 October 2017
Contrary to popular belief, most of the time drinking bottled water is not a healthier or smarter alternative to drinking tap water in a reusable bottle. You may be unaware of this, but if you live in the United States the water that comes out of your faucet may be the same quality of water that you pay $2.00 for at the store. The purity and costliness are only two of many reasons why utilizing tap water in a reusable bottle, is more beneficial than buying bottled water. In this post, we’ll be looking at the difference in regulations of tap water vs. bottled water, and also examine the negative impacts that plastic from bottled water has on humans and our environment. By the end of this post, you will be able to see that by adapting to reusable water bottles, we can eliminate all of the harm that plastic water bottles cause us.
When rushing to work or class, grabbing a plastic bottle of water from a store has always seemed harmless and convenient, but what do you really know about them and their nutritional facts? Have you ever wondered if it’s better for you than tap, or just assumed it was based on convincing advertisements? For starters, bottled water is not any healthier for you to drink than tap water is. Some water bottle companies may convince you that by purchasing their brand, you’re sure to be drinking the freshest quality water; they may even claim that it’s filtered more heavily than tap water, though they are not always certain what is in their water. In fact, in one 4-year study done by the NRDC, they found that about 22% of the brands they were testing had traces of chemicals that reached levels above state health limits in California. If we are not warned about the contents of a plastic water bottle, how can we feel safe drinking from them?
Plastic water bottles are also made with hazardous contaminants. The chemical phthalate which is found in plastic water bottles can become a danger to your health if left in a hot setting. Plastic bottles have caused reproductive issues, cancers, and many other health concerns when people drink from them after being left in these conditions. Having the ability to drink water in high temperatures is crucial to staying healthy and hydrated. People need a reliable bottle to be able to drink water from in any circumstance, which is what makes purchasing a reusable bottle made from safe materials beneficial to everyone. Another piece of evidence that supports my claim is how plastic bottle companies aren’t required to be tested in government-certified labs, while tap water is. Water bottle companies are only mandated to test the safety of their water contents once a week. Whereas tap water is enforced to check their water 100 or more times per month. Most cities require their tap water to be disinfected from pathogens or viruses, while bottled water is not obligated to.
Furthermore, plastic water bottle companies are not informative about their health facts and water sources. What most people are unaware of, is that a large percent of these companies are using the same water as the municipal source that administers your tap water. Therefore, making you pay extra for the same value. Why would anybody want to run to the supermarket every week to buy cases of water bottles, when you can have the same quality water from your faucet at home? Not only are water bottle companies uninformative to their customers about the purity of their water, they are also not as careful about testing the contents of it frequently. Tap water is highly regulated and is obligated to check around 3 times per day on average, while bottled water has a more lenient requirement for regulation. Tap water checks daily for traces of E. coli and fecal coliform bacteria, which can be very harmful to human health. Since bottled water companies check less regularly, they are not as cautious about these hazards lingering in their packaged bottles. If you have noticed when looking at plastic water bottles, there are little to no facts about the source, and if there are possible pollutants of chemicals from within the plastic. They do not inform buyers on the methods of purification, or if they even go to extra measures to clean their water. The reason why the US drinking water has high standards is due to the Clean Water Act. This act was established in 1972 and gave the EPA the power to enforce pollution control programs. The clean water act also prohibited any person from dumping pollutants into accessible waters and even funded the construction of sewage treatment plants. Even though this act has been beneficial for many Americans, there are still some places in the United States that are without clean water. In Flint, Michigan, a city where just below half of their residents live in poverty, have been dealing with an ongoing water crisis. The Flint River which is their main water source has been of poor quality. It contains harsh contaminants, such as bacteria and lead. These disadvantaged citizens have no other choice but to result to bottled water. Hopefully, in the near future, this crisis becomes resolved, and Flint will be able to obtain clean tap water once again. Overall, for most Americans, using tap water is just as clean, maybe even cleaner than most bottled waters.
Moreover, I’m sure you’ve never considered how costly buying bottled water can be over time, but by purchasing a reusable bottle instead of cases of plastic water bottles, you could save hundreds of dollars per year. Utilizing tap water can save you a large sum of money since it can cost as low as $0.002 per gallon, while bottled water can cost up to $0.89 per gallon. It may not seem like a big difference with these small amounts, but after a while, the cost of bottled water starts to add up. With tap water, you can save a large amount of money per year that can be used for other essentials.
Below is a graphic which displays an approximate average of the difference in cost between water bottles and tap water in the US per month…
Filling reusable water bottles with tap water is not only cost-efficient, they are also beneficial for the environment. Meanwhile, plastic water bottles and their contents are harmful to us and to our environment. They are made from a toxic material called polyethylene terephthalate, or PET. When these plastics are being produced, chemicals are released into the air, such as nickel and ethylbenzene. Inhaling these carcinogens are harmful to your lungs and nasal canal, and cause irritation to the eyes and throats; it can also damage plants and other microorganisms. The Pacific Institute estimated that creating these plastic bottles also produced more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2006. Reusable water bottles can be made from sturdier and more reliable materials such as stainless steel, which is the recommended choice for safe reusable bottles. Stainless steel bottles don’t emit carbon dioxide or other harsh pollutants into the air like plastic bottles do. These bottles aren’t thrown out daily, therefore they aren’t contributing to the amount of plastic in our landfills. One plastic water bottle alone can take hundreds of years to decompose, negatively affecting our landfills and environment due to the chemicals it pollutes soil with. After finding out this startling fact of just how long it can take a single bottle to decompose, I wanted to solve an equation to figure out just how many bottles are contaminating our landfills annually. I found that the U.S. consumes about 1500 plastic bottles of water every second. Since there are 31,536,000 seconds in a year, I multiplied that number by 1500 to find how many water bottles are consumed by Americans on an annual basis. My final calculations of the number of bottles consumed by Americans on average annually came out to be approximately 47,304,000,000. Below I have laid out the equation…
\(1500\times 31,536,000 = 47,304,000,000\)
Over 47 billion water bottles that are polluting our landfills yearly. This pollution is causing not only health issues among humans but also a huge environmental concern.
All in all, it is important that our Country maintains our implemented safety standards for our drinking water. We should be cautious of the amount of water we waste by letting the faucet run, or the length of showers we take. By cutting down the amount of clean water we waste on these daily tasks, we can ensure the continuous supply of safe drinking water in the future. As I further expressed in my post, drinking bottled water can result in health issues, being unaware of the company’s water sources, and it can cost up to 300 times more than the cost of tap water; meaning there is not much of a reason for anyone to continue drinking from them. These are major reasons why sticking to reusable water bottles will benefit Americans overall. I believe that if our country takes initiative to stop purchasing bottled water, and instead buy a reusable bottle, we could support the environment in a huge way. Plastic is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to pollution of the earth, which is why simply buying a reusable bottle can help us move closer in the efforts of saving our planet, one person at a time.
Bosque, Tomás. “Battle of the Reusable Bottles: Plastic vs. Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel.” Ban the Bottle, Ban the Bottle, 12 May 2010, www.banthebottle.net/articles/battle-of-the-reusable-bottles-plastic-vs-aluminum-vs-stainless-steel/.
Fitness. “Reasons to Choose Tap Water Over Bottled.” POPSUGAR Fitness, 12 Aug. 2009, www.popsugar.com/fitness/Reasons-Choose-Tap-Water-Over-Bottled-3947535 (Links to an external site.)
“Flint Water Crisis Fast Facts.” CNN, Cable News Network, 14 June 2017, www.cnn.com/2016/03/04/us/flint-water-crisis-fast-facts/index.html.
“Health Effects Notebook for Hazardous Air Pollutants.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 9 Feb. 2017, www.epa.gov/haps/health-effects-notebook-hazardous-air-pollutants.
“History of the Clean Water Act.” EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, 8 Aug. 2017, www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/history-clean-water-act.
Livingston, Amy. “Bottled Water vs. Tap Water – Facts & 4 Reasons to Drink Tap.” Money
Crashers, Money Crashers, www.moneycrashers.com/bottled-water-vs-tap-water-facts/ (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
Perkins, Sharon. “The Disadvantages of Drinking Bottled Water.” LIVESTRONG.COM, Leaf Group, 4 Feb. 2014, www.livestrong.com/article/446428-the-disadvantages-of-drinking- (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.bottled-water/.
Postman, Andrew. “The Truth About Tap.” NRDC, 5 Jan. 2016, www.nrdc.org/stories/truth-about-tap.
The source I used for the mathematical equation:
Scholtus, Petz. “The US Consumes 1500 Plastic Water Bottles Every Second, a Fact by Watershed.” TreeHugger, Treehugger, 12 Sept. 2017, www.treehugger.com/clean- (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. water/the-us-consumes-1500-plastic-water-bottles-every-second-a-fact-by- watershed.html.