Are you still using plastic water bottles?
A common misconception is that bottled water is healthier for us than tap water. Did you know that tap water is actually more heavily regulated in the United States than bottled water is? The Environmental Protection Agency regulates tap water over 400 times a month; they are mandated under the Clean Water Act to do so. However, privately owned companies like Nestle and PepsiCo, the two corporations that own a majority of the bottled water industry, are not required by the government to meet federal standards.
Why do we need to stop?
Bottled water consumption in the U.S is through the roof; Americans alone use 50 billion plastic water bottles annually. With a recycling rate of only 23%, this means our nation alone wastes 38 billion water bottles a year. The energy we waste using bottled water would be enough to power 190,000 homes. The amount of petroleum used to manufacture plastic bottles for America for just one year is enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for an entire year, 17 million barrels of oil. Along with the tremendous amount of energy and fossil fuel consumption it takes to produce this many plastic bottles, our planet suffers. The 38 billion bottles of water that do not get recycled each year end up in either a landfill or in our oceans. According to National Geographic News, eight million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans each year, harming all forms of wildlife.
Where we spend our money sends a huge message. Let us be mindful of the products we use and where they end up after we are done using them. Invest in a reusable water bottle and avoid using plastic plates, cups, cutlery and straws whenever you can.
Anjum Kaur serves on Misl Council for the Bay Area and also studies Environmental Studies at San Jose State University.