Small steps, large steps whatever, let’s just try to break a bad habit. It’s pretty well known that in order to change habits we have to set goals and in order to set goals they have to be attainable. “Be greener” is too broad of a goal so I thought this week I could talk about a specific habit of mine that I changed years ago. Let’s talk about bottled water.
This is one of my favorite things to talk about because it saves you money. Most people equate going green with spending more money on fancy alternative products (which is incorrect!) but guess what- it can mean saving green too! I can’t think of anywhere that this is a better example than when it comes to bottled water.
I used to buy bottled water. At 3.99 for 24 bottles it seemed like a steal to me! And especially with all of those pictures of pristine sources and glaciers…the bottled water companies showing me pictures of waterfalls made me question the water that comes out of my tap and they convinced me that bottled was better (and not just better but more fashionable). I was also trying to be healthier and 8 glasses a day is a lot to consume when you are a busy person so it was a convenience factor as well. Then I saw the movie Tapped which you can watch on Netflix and I was floored by the impact of what I was doing.
If you buy bottled water I urge you to consider:
There are no regulations for bottled water- that is your municipal water source is more regulated (tested for impurities etc.) than bottled water sources. No one is testing the safety of your bottled water.
Plastic bottles contain chemicals that are harmful and that leach into the water you are drinking. The plastic bottle you drink out of has likely been heated and cooled several times while the water was in it, increasing the amount of chemicals that have leached into your water.
Often times companies (such as Dasani or Aquafina) fill their water bottles with the same water you get from your municipality only they may add minerals etc. to enhance the flavor. You may literally be paying several times as much for the same thing (and getting it in an exciting chemically processed container!)
Even though it may seem cheap (even though it’s several times the cost of tap) the environmental impact is enormous. Have you seen the 5 gyres? These are islands literally the size of Texas floating around the ocean of nothing but plastic. There are islands in the Caribbean where the beaches are literally becoming made out of plastic. Then there is this heartbreaking video of a photographer who captured birds who die from eating garbage mostly plastic debris, 2,000 miles from land inhabited by humans. Just because it’s cheap for us doesn’t mean it’s affordable for the planet.
Private companies are draining Florida’s springs and making a mint while residents of this state are suffering the consequences. What kind of sense does it make for a state to allow outside interests to come in and pump their springs and aquifer system to make a mint shipping our most precious natural resource out? (Also in case any of you is thinking it I know that golf courses and agriculture pump out way more water than bottled water companies but that doesn’t change the fact that what bottled water companies are getting away with is wrong). As citizens we are placed under water restrictions and told to invest in water saving toilets and shower heads (I’m not complaining, we do need to be as conservative as we can) while multi-million dollar corporations come in and pump while paying the same price per gallon that we do. It is an absurd injustice.
Finally I had mentioned that when I used to buy bottled water it was because it was a convenient way to get those 8 glasses a day but the truth of the matter is buying cases of bottled water is anything but convenient. First, there is buying it. It is HEAVY. It is no fun to lug around cases of bottled water every month. If you are conscientious about recycling it is not easy to recycle them in public, which means you recycle them at home. This leads to a mound of plastic water bottles every week piling up in your home or garage.
So I ask you please, if you buy bottled water, stop. Use a refillable water bottle, invest that money in a filter for your home if you are concerned about your tap water and please don’t encourage this industry. You don’t even have to invest in a fancy water bottle, upcycle an old mason jar!
If you do not buy bottled water please try to thoughtfully change the habits of those around you. If you haven’t seen Tapped I urge you to watch it with a friend or family member. It is very entertaining while also highly enlightening. Share with them the pictures of the floating plastic islands in the middle of our oceans and point out the money they could be saving annually. If everyone stopped buying bottled water it would be a small change for us and it would lead to an enormous environmental impact
Have you stopped buying bottled water? If so, let me know in the comments below.