The Environment

The Truth About Bottled Water

The Truth About Bottled Water
March 30, 2010

Water is an incredibly important to the existence of life on earth. We humans use it for a number of activities in our day-today life. We drink, cook, wash, bathe, and clean all with the help of water. However, even with all of the importance water holds in our lives, many of us know very little about the water we use each day.

All of us know that drinking impure, contaminated water will invite a host of diseases. Hence it is must for us to drink pure water. Further, we assume that bottled water is the purest form of water since it is hygienically prepared and sealed to avoid impurities. The $60 billion global bottled water industry has shown tremendous growth in the recent years. Advertising for bottled water suggests that drinking water in plastic can make you thin, sexy, healthy, affluent, and environmentally responsible. Water bottles have become a fashion accessory. Think again!

It is actually the other way round. Drinking from plastic bottled water is not only damaging to you but also to the environment.

Here are some myths about bottled water:

Its safe: Many people think bottled water is safer than tap water. There is no such guarantee. A man reported getting sick from drinking bottled water because it had high levels of coliform bacteria in it. A study revealed that most bottled water is roughly equivalent to tap water in terms of germs and chemical makeup. Another study determined that at least 25 percent of bottled water (including top brands) is actually filtered tap water.

It is healthy and tastes better: Vitamins, minerals, herbs, protein and all the other additions to water are really nothing but a marketing ploy. Enhanced waters usually contain sugars and artificial flavorings to sweeten the deal.

It’s pure: The labels on many bottles have the words “natural” and “pure” on them can be misleading. Ahmedabad based Consumer Education and Research Society (CERS) conducted a detailed study on the 13 major brands of bottled water and found that as many as 10 brands had foreign floating objects in clear violation of norms. The study also found that none of the brands was free from bacteria (not of the harmful kind), and two of the big brands contained toxic heavy metals much higher than permitted levels.

Not only these myths, but there are further reason why you should avoid bottled water:

  1. It is dangerous to the environment: Every year about 1.5 million tons of plastic go into manufacturing water bottles for the global market, using processes that release toxics such as nickel, ethylbenzene, ethylene oxide and benzene. These bottles are composed of a plastic called polyethylene terepthalate (PET), which can take as long as 400 to 1000 years to degrade. In addition, more than 80 percent of the PET water bottles are tossed in the trash instead of being recycled. Besides landfills, many bottles end up in oceans, posing a risk to marine life. Furthermore, the manufacturing and shipping of bottles means extra carbon emissions. 60 Million plastic bottles a day are disposed of in America alone!
  2. It impacts the water resources: Bottled spring water is taken from water that flows naturally to the surface of the earth from an underground formation. Thus there is reduction in the underground water resource. Sometimes, bottled water comes from the glaciers which is even more damaging to the environment. Moreover, during filtration, it is estimated that two liters of water are wasted for every single liter that is purified.
  3. Hidden cost: It requires 3 times as much water to make the bottle as it does to fill it. it is an exceptionally wasteful industry.  We use more than 17 million barrels of oil to make plastic bottles. This could generate electricity for more than 2.5 million homes or fuel 1 million cars for a year. And this doesn’t include the fuel required to transport the bottles. We are literally drinking up oil in our quest for clean water.

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From the article: The Dangers of BPA

  • 4. Health Cost: Bottled water contains the dangerous chemical, BPA.Numerous studies indicate exposure to low levels of BPA causes a range of serious health effects in laboratory animals, particularly when exposures occur in utero (Maffini 2006). According to Scientific American, BPA is essentially a synthetic hormone, acting much like estrogen, so it’s possibly affecting our bodies in a myriad of ways.

The first is breast cancer. According to a new article just out in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health (and also released from The Breast Cancer Fund), there is evidence that suggests a link between increasing instances of breast cancer and BPA, especially when women are exposed to BPA at a younger age.  Their advice is that women who are pregnant or nursing limit or eliminate their exposure to BPA. Children especially are susceptible to the adverse health effects of BPA, since their brains and bodies are still developing.

BPA has also been shown to decrease sperm count in lab studies, as well as impact testes development. And in this article published in TIME, BPA might also be causing diabetes, aggressiveness, heart disease, and decreased sensitivity to chemotherapy in cancer patients.
The EWG lists these studies showing the adverse health effects of BPA:

  1. A study showing that BPA exposures lead to an error in cell division called aneuploidy that causes spontaneous miscarriages, cancer, and birth defects in people, including Down Syndrome (Hunt et al. 2003).
  2. An investigation demonstrating that low doses of BPA spur both the formation and growth of fat cells, the two factors that drive obesity in humans (Masumo et al. 2002).
  3. A study linking low doses of BPA to insulin resistance, a risk factor for Type II diabetes (Alonso-Magdalena et al. 2006).
  4. A preliminary investigation linking BPA exposures to recurrent miscarriage in a small group of Japanese women, made potentially pivotal by its concordance with lab studies of BPA-induced chromosome damage that could well cause miscarriage (Sugiura-Ogasawara 2005).

What should I do?
There are a lot of things that you can do to not be a part of this lunacy:

  • Fit a water purifier in your house; drinking filtered water is a much more economical practice than drinking bottled water.
  • Choose tap water over bottled water whenever possible.
  • Use a refillable bottle with tap water.
  • Don’t use plastic bottles.
  • Convince other to do the same.
  • So now that you know there is no actual difference between bottled water and regular one, head to your tap and have a sip. If you want to drink water that is 100% pure and provides a healthy lifestyle for you and your family, get a good purifier system. All that you need to do is a touch more research and you may find a tap water filtration system that will save the environment and your wallet. It’s now up to you.

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Water Documentaries that are worth watching:

Tapped is a condemnation of one of the most ubiquitous acts of consumption today, the purchase of bottled water. The scathing new documentary reveals a litany of damaging effects as it follows this environmental scourge from production to “disposal,” including the Pacific Ocean’s floating continents of plastic debris twice the size of the continental United States.

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FLOW – Irena Salinas’ documentary is about the global crisis we face as Earth’s fresh water supply constantly diminishes. The film presents top experts and advocates to show us that every aspect of human life is effected by pollution, wastefulness, privatization and corporate greed as it relates to a natural resource that’s more valuable than oil.

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Blue Gold, Water Wars – The current ways water is being used and exploited by private interests all over the globe is seen having long-term consequences in this documentary about water resources.

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Learn More About Water Here

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About Kim Martindale

Mother of two, wife of one, home manager, gardener, student of health and wellness, world traveler, nature lover, researcher, Jesus follower, community builder. I'm seeking to become resilient and to live sustainably. I desire to give back and share what I'm learning with others.

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