Editorial Notebook

Bottled water, go away

Ads coordinator talks about the harm of bottled water

There have been too many times when I have been deceived by bottled water. It looks so innocent with curved sides for best grip, a smaller cap for eco lovers, and a paper label saying that it is nature’s best; but when I go for a sip, the most disgusting flavor of plastic tasting water fills my mouth. There have been times when I have taken one sip and then immediately recycled the bottle. But, I am caught in quite the dilemma because many of the places I visit, the only drinkable water is bottled water. It is a never ending cycle. Bottled water is here to stay. I am here to say that there are both positives and negatives to drinking bottled water because of environmental impacts, health concerns, and convenience.

“Did you notice this bottle has an Eco-Slim cap? This is part of our ongoing effort to reduce our impact on the environment. This bottle and cap contain an average of 20 percent less plastic than our original 500mL Eco-Shape bottle and cap. Be Green.” This is the statement written on all Ice Mountain Water bottles. Ice Mountain has also produced eco-shaped bottles that contain “30 percent less plastic” and smaller labels that have “saved nearly 20 million pounds of paper since 1998”. Many other bottled water companies have begun making smaller caps, bottles, and labels to limit their impact on the environment. In addition, companies have also made these bottles recyclable, allowing them to be used again and again. Bottled water companies are aware of the environment, and are attempting to limit their impact one bottle at a time.

Yes, bottled water is recyclable and companies are making better bottles, but bottled water is very harmful to the environment. The fact that the bottle is recyclable does not mean that people will recycle it. According to skillet creekjournal.com, “eight out of 10 bottles will end up in a landfill.” Not only does this create more waste in our landfills but, it is also having a huge impact on animal habitats, especially the ocean. Every year, marine mammals and other animals which feed on jellyfish mistake the bottles as prey, and when consumed may cause serious illness, injury, or death to these harmless creatures. Not only are animals exposed to the dangers of bottled water, but so are humans. The manufacturing of bottled water uses many barrels of oil and consumes large amounts of energy. The most ironic fact regarding the manufacturing of bottled water was reported on treehugger.com by Lloyd Alter, it takes “6.74 times as much water as is in [a] bottle.” The death of animals and waste of valuable resources is not worth something which is disposable.

For many places with poor drinking water, bottled water has been a savior. There are many developing nations which peoples’ health suffers because of the contaminated water. A prime example was seen in Haiti after the very destructive earthquake of 2010. Much of Haiti’s water supply was contaminated with debris, making the water undrinkable. One of the most valuable resources brought to the Haitians was bottled water. Bottled water has improved the health of many in emerging nations.

Although bottled water can help those in need of clean water, and gives a substitute to sugary drinks, tap water is really the healthiest option because of the valuable minerals and heavy metals it contains. One very important substance found in tap water is fluoride. The effect of drinking water with fluoride is that it strengthens the enamel on teeth. It is predicted that water without fluoride will create dental problems in the future.

Not only is bottled water missing valuable minerals, but also has added amounts of some harmful products. In 2009, there was a study in California to test the amount of various heavy metals found in six brands of bottled water. Most metals were present and did not exceed California contaminate levels, “but arsenic concentrations exceeded California public health goals in all six sources.” Studies like this are conducted to test the amount of plastic, specifically BPA, found in bottled water. Both arsenic and BPA are very harmful to the body and can be avoided by drinking tap water.

Besides being good for you, tap water also saves you money. As said on mnn.com by Chris Baskind, “$50 to $100 billion each year” is spent on bottled water. Compared to “$0.0015 per gallon” spent on tap water. For those who have undrinkable tap water, many filtration systems have been produced to allow for safe drinking water. The health benefits of tap water provide us with valuable minerals while having the advantage of saving money.

The most beneficial quality of bottled water is the convenience. Bottled water is sold at almost any store making it very easy to attain. There are also various sizes that one can buy. Ice Mountain offers 11 sizes ranging from eight ounces to five gallon snack pack push button cooler refill. In addition, bottled water can be bought and then be disposed making it very appealing to those who are always on the go. The convenience of bottled water is a very favorable quality in today’s fast-paced society.

Yes, it is true that bottled water is very convenient and can be sold anywhere, but the ultimate convenience is always having water by using a reusable plastic water bottle. Reusable water bottles come in all shapes and sizes, for any activity. The most practical part is that it can be refilled with healthy tap water, repeatedly. But the most beneficial quality of having a reusable water bottle is that it is money saving. The fact that reusable plastic water bottles can be used perpetually, and used anywhere makes them more practical than bottled water.

In conclusion, water is necessary, but as a person of this planet, you have a choice about your water. Bottled water serves its purpose and has changed water consumption in the present, and for the future. Personally, I will continue to drink from my reusable water bottle and reserve bottled water for times in which I cannot acquire clean tap water. As a sustainable person, this is my contribution to the environment. As Captain Planet says, “the power is YOURS!”