Molly Connell is a marketing specialist for TradeMachines, a German tool and machine supply company focusing on recycling manufacturing equipment.
Key Vocabulary: consumption, recycling, waterways, tap water, regulation, biodegrade, Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
Next Generation Science Standards
- MS-ESS3-3. Apply scientific principles to design a method for monitoring and minimizing a human impact on the environment.
The bottled water industry is growing worldwide and by now several billion gallons of bottled water is consumed every year. Even though 90% of Americans have access to clean tap water that meets all health standards we still drink 36.5 gallons on average annually, which sets us to be 6th on the world consumption ranking.
While the increasing consumption of bottled water can be a good sign assuming it indicates that more people choose water over other, less healthy beverages, but looking at it from an environmental point of view it can be alarming.
Water is usually sold in plastic bottles. To produce a one-quart bottle certain components are needed, namely 2.6oz of oil, 2.9oz of coal, 1.5 cubic feet of natural gas and over a half a gallon of water, almost twice as much water as the bottle itself contains!
Not only are we using a lot of resources when drinking bottled water but we are also generating a lot of waste. Plastic pollution is an issue that still has to be solved and with the consumption of bottled water, we only make it worse. In the U.S. only 30% of plastic bottles are recycled and almost none of these are recycled into new bottles, the majority is downcycled to other, lower grade plastics. The rest still ends up in landfills or are incinerated, unfortunately, many also land in our waterways and contribute to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
While the option of being able to buy a bottle of water is always comforting, we know it is harmful to the environment and this comfort also has a high financial price as well. Bottled water can cost about a 2000 times more than tap water and when buying 36 gallons a year that adds up!
Take a look at the following infographic to find out more what hidden costs bottled water carries. If you want to save these costs, there’s a simple solution, bring your own water bottle! There are several reasons why drinking tap water and avoiding bottled water is worth it. Give it a try and you might realize it’s easier than you think.