Many high schools, college campuses, and other institutions are beginning to ban the sale and even the use of plastic water bottles within their limits. What is fueling this decision? The "green" movement is becoming ever more popular as awareness for the need of sustainability and proper care of our environment grows. The number of "green" products is increasing and more and more people are turning to these environmentally friendly product alternatives. The fact that establishments are banning plastic water bottles demonstrates the cognizance of the need to push for sustainability and a greater concern for environmental protection. After all, by protecting the environment we are essentially protecting ourselves.
But we have recycling, right? So it is ok to keep buying cases of bottled water and using plastic water bottles? Bottled water accounts for the largest growth in bottled beverage sales (Llanos), and in reality, only about 20% of these plastic water bottles are recycled (Gore). The remaining 80% that could be recycled end up in landfills where they take up to one thousand years to biodegrade and may emit toxic fumes if they are incinerated (Pura). These bottles may also end up polluting the ocean, like the garbage patch in the Pacific that is bigger than the size of Texas (The Green Living Expert). Many people recycle within their homes, but because there are minimal opportunities for recycling outside of the home they do not recycle elsewhere (Llanos).
Not only are we polluting the environment with tons of plastic bottles, but we are "paying" with valuable resources in order to do it. Oil is becoming a more and more rare and precious resource in the world. In order to produce one plastic bottle, it takes one-fourth of that same bottle filled with oil to do it (Pura). When these bottles end up in landfills or in the ocean, we are wasting our ever-decreasing supply of oil. In a USA Today article, Doug James, a professor at Cornell University, noted that the marketing of bottled water as clean and healthy is ironic because the production of bottled water only adds to environmental deterioration (Gashler).
Some have suggested washing and reusing the plastic bottles in order to lessen their negative environmental impact, however doing this proves to be a potential health hazard (The Effects). Bacteria, which thrives in moist environments, may grow in these plastic water bottles and eventually make you sick (Is it Bad). Additionally, plastic water bottles may leach harmful chemicals into their contents, such as BPA (Edwards). Stainless steel, glass, and other metal water bottles eliminate this problem as they can be easily sterilized (Is it Bad). However, some people are averse to drinking tap water.
Interestingly, bottled water is more expensive and is regulated more loosely than tap water (A World). The Environmental Protection Agency regulates the quality of water from your tap, while the Food and Drug Administration regulates the quality of bottled water. When these two sets of standards are examined, the EPA's standards for tap water are more stringent than the FDA's standards for bottled water (A World). Many people feel safer drinking bottled water, when in reality the safer choice is tap water.
If you are dissatisfied with the taste of water from your kitchen tap, try using a water filter. In many cases, bottled water is actually tap water (A World). Ultimately, it is better for your health, for the environment, and for your wallet to use a safe reusable water bottle filled with tap water or filtered tap water rather than buying cases of bottled water. Stainless steel water bottles are a great alternative to plastic bottled water. The problems that plastic containers pose do not apply to stainless steel containers. These containers are safer because they do not leach harmful chemicals into their contents (Edwards). Water bottles made with stainless steel are impermeable and therefore do not retain any odor or flavor of previous contents (The Green Living Expert). Overall they are also much more durable than reusable plastic containers. In making the decision to use a stainless steel alternative filled with water from your tap, you are making a decision that not only helps the environment, but that also positively impacts your health and well-being.
- "A World of Reasons to Ditch Bottled Water." treehugger. N.p., 07 09 2007. Web. 13 Dec 2010
- Edwards, Steven S. Stainless Steel Bottle Water. 30 August 2010 stainlesssteelbottlewater.com/benefits-of-stainless-steel-water-bottles.
- Gashler, Krisy. "Thirst for bottled water unleashes flood of environmental concerns." USA Today. N.p., 06 07 2008. Web. 14 Dec 2010. usatoday.com/news/nation/environment/2008-06-07-bottled-water_N.htm.
- Gore, Marcie. timesnews.net. 17 April 2010. 9 September 2010 timesnews.net/article.php?id=9022304.
- Llanos, Miguel. "Plastic bottles pile up as mountains of waste." MSNBC. N.p., 03 03 2005. Web. 13 – – December 2010. msnbc.msn.com/id/5279230/ns/us_news-environment.
- "Is it Bad to Drink Water from Plastic Bottles?." Wise Geek. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Dec 2010. wisegeek.com/is-it-bad-to-drink-water-from-plastic-bottles.htm.
- Pura. 27 August 2010 purastainless.com/environment.
- "The Effects of Bottled Water on the Environment." AllAboutWater.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Dec 2010. allaboutwater.org/environment.html.
- The Green Living Expert. 1 September 2010 thegreenlivingexpert.com/stainless-steel-water-bottles.html.