My hope is that you already own a good reusable water bottle. In fact, hopefully everyone in your family has one. Clearly though, based on recent data, few families are using reusable water bottles as often as they should. That’s too bad.
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) Americans drank approximately 215 plastic bottles of water each (on average) back in 2008. Still, consumer education surrounding bottled water has grown, so you’d think disposable water bottle use would have gone done significantly since 2008 but it hasn’t. Earth 911 notes that disposable plastic bottled water use has quadrupled in the U.S. in the last 20 years and a lot of that happened recently. As the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) points out, disposable water bottle sales have tripled in just the past 10 years.
The National Geographic Society and others note that bottled water sales are booming, not reducing as they should be. Sales figures from Beverage Marketing Corp show that Americans bought 9.1 billion gallons of bottle water in 2011. That’s the most bottled water EVER sold in a year, in the United States. In total, that’s 222 bottles of water for each person in the country, higher than the 215 figure in 2008.
What’s the deal?
It’s unbelievable to me that bottled water use has gone up, not down. It makes me wonder why. It’s hard to suss out exactly why people insist on buying bottled water, but below are some ideas why.
- It’s easy: A recent study conducted in the United Kingdom shows that people usually buy bottled water simply because it’s convenient.
- It’s healthy: market researchers Mintel note that almost a quarter of people who buy bottled water and to drink at home do so because they think it’s better for them than tap water.
- It’s recyclable: Plastic is easily recycled, so my guess is that people don’t feel guilty buying bottled water, even if they don’t recycle, maybe they take comfort in the fact that most everyone else does.
- It’s tastier: I’ve heard tons of people say bottled water tastes way better than tap. Bottled water associations help perpetuate this idea.
- It’s cheap: You can pick up a bottle of disposable water for under a buck in some cases, while a decent reusable water bottle can cost $20+.
Is any of the above true?
NONE of the above is true. Let’s look at each idea individually.
It’s easy – bottled water may be easier, but it’s not any easier than tap or filtered water in a reusable water bottle. Like any new habit, it takes a little time to get used to carrying around a reusable water bottle, but it’s not some crazy hard impossible feat. In fact, I have a reusable water bottle primer that can help you easily learn how to carry around a reusable water bottle.
It’s healthy – In spite of the rumors, most bottled water is not any safer than tap. The FDA regulates bottled water for safety, but they do very little to ensure it is actually safe. Also consider that by government and industry estimates, as much as 1/4 of all bottled water is simply bottled tap water. Some research shows as much as 40% of bottled water is just tap in a bottle.
Also think about this; NRDC points out that not all bottled water is even covered by FDA standards and even when it is, the FDA’s water safety rules are weaker than EPA rules that apply to city tap water. See EPA’s bottled water scorecard to learn more. The fact is, America has some of the safest tap water around. Don’t believe me? You can check your water quality for yourself. If you find that your water is less than safe, a good water filter is all you need.
It’s recyclable – Plastic is easily recycled, so there people are correct. However, that would assume people are recycling their bottles and sadly, most people are not. The International Bottled Water Association states that people now recycle plastic bottles at a rate of 38.6%, which they point out means “The recycling rate for single serve PET plastic bottled water containers has doubled in the last seven years.”
The EPA says differently, noting that recycling rate for different types of plastic varies greatly which ends up resulting in a a total plastics recycling rate of an alarming 8%. The EPA does note that HDPE bottles have a higher recycling rate of 28% (in 2010) but that’s a far cry from enough. An excessive amount of plastic water bottles still end up in the landfill each year and once that happens these bottles sit, and sit, and sit – maybe forever. One newer documentary Trashed, notes that even today, folks in America toss out 200 billion liters of water bottles each year.
It’s tastier – Again, as noted above, a lot of bottled water is tap water packaged up. That doesn’t imply better taste. It implies the same taste. I do know some people who have poor water quality or a well to contend with and they may have a solid arguments, but not an argument that cannot be solved with a good water filter. EWG has an excellent water filter guide that can help you find a filter for just about any problem water system.
It’s cheap – Of all the false water myths above, “It’s cheap” is the most discouraging to me. I find it amazing people buy into this. Yes, you can buy ONE bottle of disposable water for less than ONE reusable water bottle, but the cheapness ends there. Who buys just one bottle of water? In fact, guess how much a family of four will pay for disposable water bottles over 5 years… not $100, not $500, not even $1,000, but a whopping $7,278.00.
If you buy a good water filter plus enough reusable water bottles for the whole family, you’ll save an insane $6,000+ over 5 years. Because reusable water bottles often last longer than five years, you’ll save much more as time goes on. If money saving is your goal, you absolutely cannot afford to buy bottled water.
So, none of the above reasons add up and beyond that there are tons and tons of reasons to give up the bottle. Learn more in the links below:
- Time to stop buying bottled water!
- Check out the book Bottled & Sold
- Water is not a never ending resource in the USA
Need another reason to avoid bottled water? Fox News says “Drink up” – And I know you don’t want to support the same stuff Fox does right?? Right?