One product that is important to me as a consumer is single-use bottled water. In this post I will discuss the environmental and social impacts of disposable plastic water bottles. Furthermore, I will examine the materials and energy used to produce them, as well as what happens to these bottles once they are disposed. Plastic disposable water bottles are a staple item in many Americans homes. Although they are extremely convenient, they have a significant negative impact on our environment. In an article posted by Mind Body Green, the author states, “even with recycling efforts, 6 out of 7 plastic bottles consumed in the United States are “downcycled” — sent somewhere out of sight and out of mind where, for the next millennia, toxins from degrading plastic containers can leach into watersheds and soil.” Moreover, the production of disposable water bottles uses vast quantities of fossil fuels and fresh, clean water that could be otherwise distributed. Ban the Bottle, an organization promoting the environment by advocating bans on one-time-use plastic water bottles, stated “Making bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. And that’s not even including the oil used for transportation.” This gives them a notable carbon footprint. Along with the negative environmental impacts of plastic water bottles, there are significant social impacts as well. Water bottling companies have made recent efforts to use BPA-free plastic but there are other chemicals within these plastics that are harmful to our bodies. If exposed to heat and left lying around for long periods of time, these toxins seep out and contaminate the water we think is so fresh. These chemicals are linked to causing certain types of cancer, neurological difficulties, early puberty in girls, reduced fertility in women, premature labour, and defects in newborn babies (Ban the Bottle). Moreover, Ban the Bottle emphasizes that the recommended eight glasses of water a day would cost around $.49 per year if we used tap water; the cost of using disposable bottled water is around $1,400 per year. Not only do disposable water bottles negatively impact humans, many marine animals carcasses’ have been found with large amounts of plastic in their stomach. As a result of all these negative impacts, some countries have taken steps to reduce the plastic pollution caused by disposable plastic water bottles. In Germany machines or staff members within stores collect customers used water bottles in exchange for cash payments. As a result, recycling rates are consistently high and companies are encouraged to reuse the bottles. Australia has also made efforts to reduce the amount of use of water bottles. In 2009 New South Wales town of Bundanoon voted to ban bottled water because of their concern for the environment, as well as the health of the local community. In conclusion, disposable water bottles bring convenience and good flavor; however, the negative effects out-weigth the positive ones and we should all work to reduce our consumption of plastic.
Peppard, C. Z. (2013, October 03). 7 Reasons To Never Drink Bottled Water Again. Retrieved April 10, 2018, from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11193/7-reasons-to-never-drink-bottled-water-again.html
Bottled Water Facts. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2018, from https://www.banthebottle.net/bottled-water-facts/