Magazine

Disposable Water Bottle? Not Cool!

Even in areas where tap water is safe to drink, demand for bottled water is increasing - producing unnecessary garbage and consuming vast quantities of energy. Stop this insanity and choose reusable!

Environmental impacts

In 2007 200 billion liters of bottled water were sold globally, mostly in the US and in Europe. Those bottles take hundreds of years to decompose, and if incinerated, they produce toxic fumes. When you pick up a water bottle at the supermarket, hold it up and imagine it filled ¼ with oil. That’s how much in fossil fuels it took just to manufacture it! That’s an insane amount of resources for something that is a completely unneeded.

783 million people on Earth doesn’t have access to clean water, but bottled water cannot be a solution to their problem. Why? Because it takes three times the volume of water to manufacture one bottle of water than it does to fill it, and because of the chemical production of plastics that water is mostly unusable. It is clear that bottling only adds to the water crisis, instead of spending money on real solutions: prevention of contamination and investing in public water infrastructure.

As Dr. Michael Warhurst, Friends of the Earth's senior waste campaigner puts it, bottled water is just another product we do not need: „Bottled water companies are wasting resources and exacerbating climate change. Transport is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, and transporting water adds to that. We could help reduce these damaging effects if we all simply drank water straight from the tap."

Most water bottles are made of completely recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics. Of course recycling is important, but many times the material travels to the other side of the planet, and gets downcycled into lower quality products. If they aren’t recycled, PETs don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade, which means they break down into smaller fragments over time. Those fragments absorb toxins that pollute our waterways, contaminate our soil, and sicken animals (which we then eat). According to the Ocean Conservancy, plastic bottles and plastic bags are the most prevalent form of pollution found on our beaches and in our oceans — every square mile of the ocean has over 46,000 pieces of floating plastic in it. Ten percent of the plastic manufactured worldwide ends up in the ocean, the majority of that settling on the ocean floor where it will never degrade.

Published in the journal Science in February 2015, a study conducted by a scientific working group at UC Santa Barbara’s National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS), quantified the input of plastic waste from land into the ocean. The results: every year, 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in our oceans. It’s equivalent to five grocery bags filled with plastic for every 30 cm of coastline in the world. In 2025, the annual input is estimated to be about twice greater, if we won’t do something about it.

Effects on human health

According to studies, most people buy bottled water because of claimed health benefits and purity. When in fact, in industrialized countries, bottled water is no more pure and healthy than what comes out of the tap. Some bottled waters differ from tap water merely by being distributed in bottles rather than through pipes, according to a report commissioned by Switzerland-based World Wildlife Fund International. "Bottled water may be no safer or healthier than tap water, while selling for up to 1,000 times the price," the report said.

The reason, according to the environmental group, is an absence of standards regulating bottled water. "In fact," said the report, "there are more standards regulating tap water in Europe and the United States than those applied to the bottled water industry."

Another concern is that plastic leaches into the water it holds, which has been linked to health issues like reproductive problems and different types of cancer. Harmful hormone-disrupting phthalates were found in the bottled water after as little as 10 weeks of storage, or much faster once the bottles have been left in the sun (like in the car.) Although PET bottles doesn’t contain BPA, many other chemicals like harmful antimony can leach into the water.

It is also important to choose your reusable water bottle carefully: BPA (bisphenol-A) has had much publicity about its harmful endocrine disrupting effects and link to obesity diabetes and cancer. Even though many manufacturers now sell BPA-free bottles, some of them have replaced it with the similarly dangerous BPS (bisphenol-S). Heating or bleaching plastic bottles may increase the leeching of BPA and other chemicals into the bottle's contents. The World Health Organization (WHO) also warns that because bottled water is often stored for long periods of time, it may eventually contain more micro-organisms than tap water.

 

Financial considerations

90% of the cost of bottled water is due to the packaging, not the water quality. This means that you actually pay for something that you will throw away instantly. Why would you do that? Depending on what you purchase, bottled water can cost 100-10000 times more than tap water!

In addition, the water intended for bottling is often routed away from its natural source, removing it from areas where citizens and farmers rely on it for their livelihood. Many water bottling plants are located in parts of the world where water is already scarce. For example Nestlé has plants in California, and Coca-Cola works in India and in Latin America, causing pollution and groundwater levels to drop. When you purchase the products of these companies, you also support their exploitative practices of stealing communities of their water supply.

What is the alternative?

Considering all the benefits of reusable BPA and BPS free water bottles, it is a no brainer choice to stop using plastic one-time use water bottles. Yet millions of bottles of water are purchased every day. We all have the choice to make a change for the environment, the economy, and our personal health!

With a reusable water bottle you don't have to sacrifice the on-the-go convenience of bottled water and you can help reduce the negative impact that the bottled water industry has on the environment! Rather than lugging along multiple water bottles, you only need to carry one reusable bottle with you, which can be refilled as many times as you please.

Equa bottles are perfect for the transition: Equa manufactures plastic and glass bottles that won’t leach hormone disrupting chemicals into your drink! The plastic Equa bottles are made of Eastman Tritan which is a special copolyester, that have been tested by several third-party laboratiories, to prove that it doesn’t leach anything with endocrine activity. This means that it won’t interfere with the body’s enstrogen and androgen levels.

But if you are one of those people who want to avoid all plastics in your life, Equa suits your needs too! With strong borosilicate glass bottles, you can enjoy your plastic free life, and carry your favourite home-made drink with you!

Equa is also a great choice, because they donate 10% of their profit to environmental organizations. Just think about it! Would you rather give your money that exploits poor people, and takes away their water, or rather give to a company who gives away some of their profit for a good cause?

If you have already ditched disposable water bottles, please spread the word to your friends, family and collegues, that the oceans and the Earth is not a bottomless garbage can!

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