A One-Year-Old Needs How Many Ounces Of Liquid Per Day Bottled Water Blues

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Bottled Water Blues

A quick bottle of water on the go may seem harmless if you’re the only one drinking it and you don’t do it very often. Unfortunately, in 2006, the average American reached for bottled water 167 times. That adds up to 50 billion bottles. With only 23% of single-use plastic bottles being recycled, 38 billion single-use plastic bottles end up in landfill every year – 100 million per day. End to end, a daily bottle shipment from New Jersey to China and back would suffice!

This excess plastic waste is harmful to the environment because plastic biodegrades very slowly. Plastic bottles take over 700 years to decompose in landfills. Plastic debris scattered around our land and waterways poses a constant threat to wildlife and ecosystems. In fact, plastic pollution has become a worldwide problem. A growing plastic “garbage patch” floating in the North Pacific Ocean is estimated to be more than twice the size of Texas. The patch consists of a mass of plastic debris carried by ocean currents from the coast around the Pacific Basin into a gyre where the currents converge. At sea or on land, creatures mistake brightly colored, shiny plastic for food, and when they eat the debris, it’s often fatal.

A staggering amount of single-use plastic bottles not only fills our landfills, messes up our land and waterways, wastes our finite natural resources and adds to our carbon footprint. Imagine a single-use plastic water bottle filled 1/4 of petroleum. That’s the amount of oil it takes to make and sell a plastic bottle of water. The amount of oil we use to make water bottles is 17 million barrels, enough to fuel more than 1 million cars for an entire year. Plus, we ship 1 billion water bottles across the United States every week by ship, train and truck. A bottle of water also requires at least three times its volume of water to make and fill it. That’s because processing oil into plastic requires a lot of water. In the end, making and shipping a bottle of water produces about 120 grams of greenhouse gases—enough to fill 12 balloons.

Collecting the water needed to fill 50 billion bottles would cause further environmental harm. Communities where bottling companies pump millions of gallons of water a day are harassed by tanker trucks rumbling through their towns 24-7 to keep bottling plants supplied. When large amounts of water are completely withdrawn from a watershed, local ecosystems can be negatively affected. These large withdrawals from aquifers (groundwater supplies) or surface water features can reduce stream flow, lower lake levels, reduce local well productivity, and disrupt ecosystems such as increased aquatic plant growth and reduced fish populations. In coastal areas, large freshwater withdrawals can accelerate saltwater intrusion into aquifers and wells. These communities are fighting multinational corporations in local regulatory and other legal arenas to stop these high levels of water abstraction.

The economic arguments against bottled water are equally compelling. Americans spent $15 billion on bottled water in 2006, paying 2 to 4 times the price of gasoline, yet they get the product virtually free from the tap. Contrary to numerous marketing messages, tap water may be healthier than bottled water; the quality of tap water is more strictly regulated and monitored than bottled water. Why pay 1000x more when about 40% of bottled water is just filtered tap water? Filling reusable bottles with tap water can save individuals at least $34 per year. Using reusable bottles, a family of four can save at least $136 a year.

Can we continue wasting limited natural and economic resources on bottled water? There’s an easy solution – fill your reusable bottle with tap water!

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