Almost everyone realizes the importance of water consumption, but not everyone understands the negative personal and environmental consequences of their water consumption habits. Bottled water, especially in the United States, has become a major source of drinking water since the 1980’s. Of the 50 billion water bottles consumed every year, approximately 30 billion are from consumption in the US alone. That means that water bottles in the United States are consumed at a rate of 1,500 per second. The production of said water bottles alone requires the use of about 17,000 barrels of oil; that number jumps up to about 50,000 barrels if the pumping, refrigerating, and transporting of the water bottles are factored in to the equation. An abundance of resources and time are used to create a product that is completely unnecessary.
In addition to the colossal waste of energy and resources that accompanies the industry, bottled water is clearly disastrous for the environment. Made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics, water bottles break down into smaller pieces that then absorb toxins and pollute soil and waterways. Many of the environmental issues caused by PET’s could be greatly reduced if every water bottle was recycled; unfortunately, the national recycle rate for PET’s is only 23 percent, leaving 38 billion water bottles to be thrown out every year.
The damage caused by water bottle consumption isn’t limited to just environmental consequences. There is also quite a bit of evidence that using plastic water bottles is bad for human health. Over time, plastic can dissolve into the water it holds, potentially causing certain types of cancer as well as reproductive complications. So, is there any true benefit to the production and consumption of bottled water? Is there any valid reason for someone in the United States to rely on such a harmful and counterproductive hydration habit? The simple answer is that, unless you live in Flint, Michigan, there are certainly healthier and more environmentally sustainable hydration choices!