Water remains an absolute necessity to nurture human life. No matter what the source is, man needs safe drinking water to survive. However, the sources for obtaining this safe drinking water may vary greatly.
Humans can pick from tap water, filtered water, or bottled water to meet their daily drinking water requirements.
Having a per capita consumption of 45.2 gallons in the U.S. for 2020, bottled water remains the top choice among beverages for the general public. However, this consumption pattern doesn’t justify the costs that incur during the production and consumption cycle.
The Dollar Cost of Bottled Water
On average, bottled water costs range from $0.5-$2 per 16 ounces. It makes the per capita cost range between $200 to $400.
On the other hand, even after the filter installation, filtered tap water costs about 0.17$ per gallon. It makes the cost of filtered water only a fraction of bottled water cost.
Still, people prefer bottled water over filtered water because they think:
- It is safer to drink
- More portable than other types of water
- Tastes better
However, it seems to be a matter of perception. People not only ignore the high dollar cost involved, but they are also forgetful of the other hidden costs of bottled water such as:
The Carbon Footprint and The Environmental Impact
A carbon footprint measures how much carbon dioxide a product emits during manufacturing, transportation, and consumption. Although you may never think that a single 16 oz bottle of water can be hazardous, it leaves a carbon footprint of 82.8 grams.
We choose to buy a water bottle only because we are thirsty or may not prefer another type of water. However, this single choice accounts for 22 billion water bottles ending as yearly trash, and that too only in the U.S.
What does it mean? It means that we are bombarding the air with 180 million kg of carbon dioxide with this seemingly innocent choice we make. Still, this is not the only cost that our environment has to bear.
It requires more than one gallon of water to produce a single PET bottle. Even if we ignore other environmental disturbances it creates, this kind of exploitation of natural resources leaves a huge question mark on our consumption choices.
Emission of BPA in Water
Bisphenol A is a chemical that manufacturers use in producing plastic products. The disposable water bottles we use also contain BPA, and they emit it into the drinkable water.
How harmful is BPA for humans? Well, it is quite harmful.
Studies found that it disrupts the human endocrine system that ultimately results in reproductive issues.
The steady emission of BPA in food and drinkable water can also cause other health problems in the long run. It can cause cardiovascular diseases and mess up blood pressure.
Although water bottles are not the only source of BPA contamination, they have become a major one due to excessive usage.
Insufficient and Inefficient Recycling
Only 12% of all the water bottles go through the recycling process each year. The remaining 88% end up in landfills around the globe. The horrible part is that these bottles need 450 years to decompose completely.
Besides the insufficient recycling, the 12% of water bottles that companies recycle are also not too helpful. Manufacturers use this recycled plastic in producing other products that are disposable in nature and end up in the trash.
Other than the manufacturing of disposable goods, plastic loses its polymer strength when it goes through recycling and can only go through the process 2-3 times. In the end, we are left with plastic waste only that it has no functionality.
The Water Is Not Necessarily Healthy
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows up to 70 contaminants in bottled water.
Moreover, the FDA remains lenient with the companies producing bottled water due to their good past performance regarding safety.
Compared to the bottled water quality standards maintained by the FDA, the quality standards for filtered water by the EPA are pretty tight. They test the filtered water for pathological contaminants such as viruses and bacteria and chemical contaminants such as lead and arsenic.
By these standards, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) checks different types of filtration systems and recommends filter pitchers over others due to their functionality and quality.
Bottled water is a convenient option, still, the true cost can be too detrimental for the environment. With the hazards it causes, wouldn’t it be wise if we choose dumping bottled water and switching to a water filter pitcher?
Let’s make a move towards a sustainable environment rather than grabbing a water bottle simply because it’s more accessible.