The Swift Life

Bottled vs. Tap: The True Cost of Bottled Water

We’re being robbed at gunpoint for that bottle of filtered water.

We know a $2 bottle of water can get you 1000 gallons of tap water. Tap water that likely comes from the same place as that bottle of water. Tap water, which has been scientifically proven to be just as safe as bottled water (you can read more on that here

So how, in developed countries (where bottled water is not a necessity!) has bottled water become synonymous with leading a healthy, environmentally conscious lifestyle? Which is of course, incorrect. But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Bottled water should be one of those things that we look back on years from now and shake our heads and think “Welp, that was stupid. (But I sure am glad I kicked that habit fast!)

Unfortunately, we are a society that has grown accustomed to an easy lifestyle. Instant gratification is our downfall.Why carry around a bulky, recyclable water bottle when you can purchase and dispose of one at will?  We live in a society that thrives on our laziness. Big corporations bank on it. We want to be environmentally friendly, and healthy but we don’t want to have to put in any effort to do it. Millions of dollars are spent annually on marketing campaigns to convince us that we are actually doing the health conscious, eco-friendly thing by buying bottled water.

Nestle faced some pretty big backlash back in 2008 when they claimed “Bottled water is the most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world. Nestlé Pure Life is a healthy, eco-friendly choice.” But it’s not, is it?

We already know less than 35% of water bottles actually end up recycled. The majority end up in landfills, a concern for future generations. That stuff isn’t biodegradable. Those bottles could be there for thousands of years.

What we don’t think about are the energy and labour costs associated with producing a bottle of water.  Think about the amount of fossil fuels (it’s never a good thing to be using an abundant amount of gas) needed to manufacture, package, transport, dispose and recycle all those plastic bottles (if indeed the bottle makes it all the way to the recycling depot).

In 2006 it was estimated that 17 million barrels of oil were used to produce plastic for bottled water. Which emits more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere (I didn’t do the math, but these guys did Since the global demand for water goes up about 10% each year I can’t even imagine the numbers we’re looking at right now.

Not only is bottled water production bad for the environment, it’s wasteful too. It takes roughly 3L of water to package 1L of water. Wait. What… Yeah, that’s right. Sure makes the companies who continue to bottle water in California (*cough* Nestle) look pretty evil right about now, doesn’t it?


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