We all know that single-use bottled water, as convenient as it is, is bad for the environment. But the impact to the environment is far worse than most people think.
Americans shell out more than 18 billion dollars for bottled water every year—and we aren’t recycling them as responsibly as we should be. According to the EPA, 71 percent of PET plastic bottles—tens of billions—still end up in landfills or in our oceans (rather than recycling centers) each year, where they contribute to planet pollution.
From a health standpoint, many think that bottled water is better than tap water, but that’s not necessarily true either. Many bottled waters are actually sourced from the same public sources as we get at home. The difference, in some cases, is only the filtering process. Plus, tap water has to meet strict standards set by the US EPA under the Safe Drinking Water Act, whereas bottled water suppliers do not. Finally, there was a study that suggested bottled water may even pose health risks, because when plastic bottles are exposed to prolonged heat, potentially-harmful substances in the plastic may leach into the water itself.
The ultimate goal is to stop using single-use plastic water bottles altogether and here are some healthier, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly options.
1. Drink from the Tap
If the only difference between bottled and tap water is the filtering process, try doing the same and buy a filter. Try putting one in a pitcher like Aquagear (www.goacquagear.com) or use Brita which also has portable bottles (www.brita.com). Another way is to cut steps and attach one directly to your faucet like Pur (www.pur.com), or have a system professionally installed to filter all the water in your home using a system from Culligan (www.culligan.com) or Aquasana (www.aquasana.com). Aside from the environmental benefits, these filtering options will save you hundreds of dollars each year as compared with shelling out cash for bottled water.
2. Buy in Bulk
If there are circumstances that make filtering your water impractical, at least cut back on the amount of plastic consumed by buying your water in large jugs or bottles, rather than individual, single-serve bottles, and use a safe, durable metal canteen for portability. And speaking of canteens…
3. Carry a Canteen
Convenience is clearly a major reason plastic water bottles are so popular. But there are lots of portable, reusable canteens and bottles that make taking your water to go a cinch. Keep one in your car or daytime tote to facilitate easy fill-ups throughout the day. Lots of gyms, schools, offices, government buildings and even restaurants and coffee shops offer filtered water from the tap for free. Some of our favorite to-go vessel brands are S’well (www.swell.com), Nalgene (www.nalgene.com), and CamelBak (www.camelbak.com). Others like Klean Kanteen (www.kleankanteen.com) can also be used for hot beverages so they do double duty.
4. Keep it Local
If you must buy water in a plastic bottle, try to stick to domestic brands whenever possible to minimize the negative environmental impact (read: CO2 emissions) of shipping plastic bottles filled with water across the ocean. Imagine the energy needed, pollution created and gas burned to get water from thousands of miles away? Is it really worth it? And if you do, at least reuse the bottle.
The Raw Truth
In the end, it’s easy to stay deliciously well-hydrated, healthily, inexpensively and sustainably. All it takes is just a few simple steps and a change in our behaviors and we can make a mountain of a difference, instead of a mountain of plastic bottles.
Have any other ideas? Please share them below. And thank you!