Top 5 reasons to stop buying bottled water

Top 5 reasons to stop buying bottled water

Why do we buy bottled water?

Bottled water has become an everyday convenience for many.  People buy it to drink on the go, at the gym, for guests at parties. Even when you are at home on your own, it might seem easier to grab a bottle of water than to fill a glass and wash it up afterwards.

I have to add a disclaimer here: bottled water can be a lifesaver if you live in an area with contaminated water, or for people living through a disaster where clean water is not available. However, in developed countries, the majority of people can get safe drinking water straight from the tap.

Two bottles of bottled water
Credit: Shutterstock

Why do people buy water, in countries where the tap water is safe, available and free?

We have been sold the idea that we need to buy bottled water:

The answer is simple, effective marketing. Bottled water is marketed to us as cleaner, healthier, crisper and tastier than regular old tap water. All of these traits, except for perhaps taste, are constructed by marketing teams to sell a product that nobody actually needs.

The negatives of plastic water bottles

Bottled water is a convenience that has huge negative consequences. Buying water in plastic bottles is bad for the environment, a waste of money, and a waste of resources.

Here are five reasons to stop buying bottled water

1. Plastic pollution

Disposable plastic water bottles are creating a large amount of unnecessary waste.  We might put plastic bottles into our recycling bins, but less than 10% of plastic is ever recycled worldwide. Most plastic bottles end up in landfill, and as plastic has an estimate lifespan of 450 years, these bottles are going to keep piling up.

I’m struggling to find the worldwide statistics for the amount of water bottles sold. However, in the USA, more than 70 billion plastic water bottles were bought in 2018. That’s just the USA, but they are not even the biggest consumers of bottled water:

In 2018, Mexico and Thailand had the highest per capita consumption of bottled water worldwide, at 72.4 gallons of bottled water per person.

Plastic makes up a huge part of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a massive collection of debris in the north Pacific. As plastic doesn’t dissolve, items like plastic water bottles that end up in the Garbage Patch are broken down by the sun and waves into smaller pieces. It is estimated that there are as many as 1.9 million pieces of plastic in a single square mile.

These microplastics are eaten by fish, sea mammals, and birds, and have been found in the bodies of many dead sea animals. And as we humans may be eating fish that have eaten microplastics, we could be eating it too.

Bottled water bottles in a huge pile
Credit: Shutterstock

2. A waste of money

Bottled water is much more expensive than tap water.

Researching this topic, I found studies showing that bottled water can cost from 300 to 2600 times the cost of tap water. For example, the ConvergEx Group compared the cost of bottled water to tap water, and found that people are spending 300 times the cost of tap water to buy bottled water. That was based on water by the gallon (as it was a US study).

When they investigated the more common 16.9 oz. size bottles (which make up about two-thirds of sales), they found the water cost almost 2,000 times the price of the same amount of regular tap water.

A similar study reported on ThoughtCo reported that in the USA, a person would save well over $1,000 a year by switching from shop bought bottled water to refillable bottles filled from the tap. This would be a similar figure in other developed countries.

3. Plastic bottles need a lot of water to make them

Can you believe that it takes more water to make a plastic water bottle than actually goes into filling it?

The International Bottled Water Association … commissioned its first ever study to figure out how much water goes into producing one liter <of bottled water>. The results <released in 2013> show that for North American companies, it takes 1.39 liters to make one liter of water.

That extra 0.39 litres might not sound like much, but over millions of plastic bottles, it really adds up.

4. Plastic Bottles Could be Harmful to Your Health

One possible reason for the increase in consumption of bottled water is that people want to be healthy, and are increasing their water intake, to meet the recommended daily water intake targets. This is good, but drinking from plastic bottles may be a health issue.

The problem is BPA or bisphenol-A. According to the Mayo Clinic:

Some research has shown that BPA can seep into food or beverages from containers that are made with BPA. Exposure to BPA is a concern because of possible health effects of BPA on the brain and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. It can also affect children’s behavior. Additional research suggests a possible link between BPA and increased blood pressure.

Leaving water to sit in the bottle and get warm makes it more likely that BPA will leach into the water.

5. It could be tap water anyway

Some brands of bottled water are from the municipal water supply, rather than from springs.

In the USA, Pepsi’s brand Aquafina and Coca-Cola’s Dasani brand are both from the ‘Public Water Source’, meaning they are tap water.

Hand holding a glass under a running tap, to avoid bottled water
Credit: Shutterstock

Alternative to bottled water – take a reusable bottle with you

Switching to reusable water bottles is one of my top easy swaps to a lower waste life.

Nearly a million plastic beverage bottles are sold every minute around the world, according to National Geographic in December 2018. Although plastic bottles are labelled as recyclable, the sad reality is that less than 10% all plastic is recycled globally.

You can do something to reduce this, by using a drink bottle you can refill over again.

Reusable bottles

I’ve ended up with a range of reusuable drink bottles. I’d recommend these ones:

A range of different reusable water bottles, to replace bottled water
Reusable water bottle options Credit: Kyle Fitzgerald