Hidden Costs of Bottled Water
What you need to know
Hidden Costs of Bottled Water
We all know that bottled water is a wasteful, high-cost convenience. But Americans are addicted. This year, we officially consumed four times as many gallons of bottled water as we did in 1997. So maybe it’s time for a reminder: commercially bottled water isn’t any cleaner or healthier than the water we get from our taps. In fact, it’s worse and it costs more.
In the U.S., municipal water supplies are tested multiple times every day. The moment a contaminant is detected, the supply is shut down and investigated. Bottled water, on the other hand, is one of the least regulated commodities in the U.S. Independent studies have repeatedly found alarming levels of fecal material, bacteria and plastic polymer chemicals in bottled samples.
Of course, the biggest costs come from the bottles themselves. Consider that Americans go through 35 billion plastic bottles each year. Four in five of these go un-recycled and end up choking U.S. landfills or rivers. This is bad news for our fish and wildlife because many of these bottles contain traces of harmful xenoestrogens like BPA. Like other inorganic hormones, BPA compounds in fat cells and is never fully flushed from our bodies. The FDA even banned this chemical from baby bottles and sippy cups last summer after dozens of studies linked long-term exposure to increased risks for certain cancers and birth defects.
Check out the latest video in the Hidden Costs Series to see the staggeringly high costs of bottled water. Share the info with your friends and let’s finally kick this $11.7 billion bad habit.
Some plastic bottles contain BPA, a compound that causes hormonal imbalances. Also, DEHP and PET, two very hard to pronounce chemicals linked with liver issues, fetal development problems and more are found in some bottles.
Locally: (F) Americans toss 35 billion plastic bottles a year. That’s 111 bottles per person. Each bottle requires about ¼ of its capacity in crude oil to be produced and distributed. Recycling just one bottle would save the same amount of energy required to power a 60 watt bulb for 6 hours. Unfortunately, only 20% of water bottles are recycled each year.
Globally: (F) Plastic is not very biodegradable, therefore every bottle that winds up in a landfill will last for hundreds of years. 22 billion plastic water bottles are tossed in landfills each year. Manufacturing sucks up 1.5 million barrels of oil per year – enough to power 100,000 cars.
Locally: (D) While bottled water isn’t necessarily expensive compared to a car – the truth is, there’s only about 4 cents worth of water in each bottle – a 96% markup on the essential product.
Globally: (B) From 1990 to 2007, bottled water consumption grew from 2.2 billion gallons to 8.8 billion gallons and the increased consumption isn’t tapering. It’s an $11.7 billion business.
Final Grade: D+