Water is our most precious resource. We literally can’t live without it. In modern society we are lucky enough to have safe, drinkable water magically appear out of little fixtures we turn, press, lift or even just wave our hands in front of! We’re also lucky enough to buy it off the shelf in pretty translucent packaging. But most of us don’t know how much bottled water is actually costing us.
A National Geographic article provides some stats that make me think thrice before buying bottled water. There’s a little buzz doing the rounds that is meant to help you consciously think about the consequences of each purchase you make, by asking yourself a few questions before you purchase anything: do you really need it, can be recycled or reused, can a more footprint-friendly version of the item be found?
The stats mentioned in the article are specific to the US, but they speak to all of us anyway:
- It takes 17 million barrels of crude oil to produce the 29 million bottles that purchased annually
- Only a tiny 13% of the annual usage of bottles is recycled, which means they end up in landfills, polluting streams and oceans. The end up polluting the atmosphere too by releasing toxic substances and gases when they start decomposing (which takes a few hundred years)
- It is estimated that the total annual energy cost (transportation, refrigeration, sourcing) of water is over 50 million barrels of oil
- Tests have proved that bottled water is not free from contaminants
Drinking tap water (filtered preferably) is the most foot print-friendly way. Reusing the bottles is an option as long as you take precautions to not encourage bacteria growth in the bottles. Recycling them is another option. If you must use bottled water, why not buy those handy stainless steel camping ones and fill them with tap or filtered water?