The Environmental Impact of Bottled Water and How You Can Help
IntroductionCan you imagine life without water? It is a fundamental component of all living things and ecosystems, and it cannot be replaced. Water is an excellent solvent that transports essential nutrients, minerals, and gases within living organisms, facilitating chemical reactions necessary for life. It is what keeps us alive, and we are not taking it seriously. Our lifestyle and choices have highly affected the quality of water, and we are on the verge of losing it.
Current situation at a glanceYou might be thinking plastic bottles are harmless, safe, and recyclable. The reality is that most of them are not recycled. A survey suggests that about 70 to 75 percent of the plastic water bottles that we purchase and use in the United States are never recycled. The bottle contains polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is recyclable, but there is a difference between being recyclable and the bottle actually being recycled. According to research conducted by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), using bottled water would result in an annual cost of resource extraction of $83.9 million (£60.3 million), which is 3,500 times higher than using tap water. According to the article “Life Cycle of a Plastic Water Bottle, it can take more than a liter of gasoline to transport each bottle of bottled water.” To meet the annual demand for bottled water in the US, 17 million barrels of oil must be produced to make the plastic. Additionally, the cost of bottled water is at least 500 times higher in the UK than the cost of tap water. According to the article “How Much Energy Goes into Making a Bottle of Water, the production and distribution of bottled water use up to 2,000 times more energy than the production and distribution of tap water. Additionally, it is thought that one out of every four bottles of water travels across at least one international border before arriving at its final location.
The environmental toll of bottled waterAs we can see, the increased use of bottle water has caused severe damage to the environment. Bottled water has several environmental impacts and tolls associated with its production, distribution, and disposal. Let us understand in detail how bottled water is creating an environmental storm-
Resource DepletionThough water is a renewable resource, clean drinking water is a scarce resource. The extraction of water for bottled water production can strain local water sources, especially in areas where water is already scarce. This can have a negative impact on ecosystems and local communities.
Energy ConsumptionThe majority of the energy needed to produce plastic bottles comes from fossil fuels. Climate change and greenhouse gas emissions are a result of this. Additionally, bottled water often travels long distances to reach consumers, which consumes additional energy and contributes to carbon emissions.
Plastic PollutionThe plastic bottles are recyclable, but most bottled water is sold in single-use plastic bottles, which contribute to plastic pollution. These bottles often end up in landfills or the ocean, harming marine life and ecosystems as they take hundreds of years to decompose. Microplastics made from plastic bottles have the ability to degrade over time and enter the food chain, posing potential health risks to both people and wildlife.
Landfill and WastePlastic bottles, even when disposed of properly, can wind up in landfills, where they take up valuable space and take a very long time to decompose. Even though some plastic bottles are recycled, the rate of recycling for plastic bottles is frequently low, which adds to waste issues.
Chemical ContaminantsSome plastic bottles may contain harmful chemicals like bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates, which can leach into the water and have potential health implications when consumed.
Water Scarcity ConcernsThere are various instances where bottled water companies have been bottling water in areas with water scarcity issues, leading to local water shortages.
How can we be kind to nature?Mother Nature has always been kind to us and provided us with everything in abundance. We have been taking advantage of this and causing irreparable damage to nature. Let’s start being kind to environment by taking the following little steps-
Use Reusable Bottles: To cut down on the amount of single-use plastic waste, choose reusable water bottles made of glass or stainless steel.
Water purifier or filter: Use water filters to purify your home’s tap water to cut down on the need for bottled water.
Support recycling: Use proper recycling techniques to reduce the impact of plastic bottles on landfills and the ocean.
Tap Water: Encourage the use of tap water by making investments in the systems that provide access to clean and safe drinking water.
Promote Sustainable Practices: Encourage sustainable water sourcing, packaging, and distribution through policies and programs.
To reduce the environmental toll of bottled water and make a significant difference, we need to come together, start changing our choices, and think about nature as a whole.