Americans use about 50 billion plastic water bottles a year, but only about 23 percent of them get recycled due to America’s recycling rate. Many people do not even recycle water bottles, but instead throw them in the trash. Every year, about 8 million metric tons of plastic end up in the ocean, and water bottles constitute a significant amount of this waste. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the largest of the five major ocean gyres, is about the size of Texas and is growing every year with more and more debris adding onto this conglomerate.
The plastic pollutes the ocean and kills ocean life and harms ecosystems. Animals ingest this plastic, and with it take in its toxic chemicals and materials. This is then carried up throughout the food chain. Animals also get entangled in this waste, which is another big problem that occurs because of this contamination. The bottle caps themselves, which are often not recyclable, can be eaten by birds, and can lead to choking and death.
Not only are plastic water bottles hurtful to the animals in the ocean, but they are also detrimental to humans and our environment. Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical used to make plastic water bottles that is toxic to our endocrine system and to human health. It has been connected to cancer, neurological problems, and birth defects. Another chemical used to make plastic is phthalates which also disrupts the hormonal pathways in our body. A study showed that 500 commercial plastic products contained EA, or estrogenic activity, even if they did not have BPA. EA chemicals lead to many health problems as well and our toxic to our bodies.
Polyethylene terephthalate, a derivative of petroleum utilized in making plastic water bottles, leads to high emissions of fossil fuels detrimental to our environment and our health. The Environmental Protection Agency regulates tap water very closely and vigorously, so any sign of contamination is reported and dealt with immediately while the Food and Drug Administration that deals with bottled water is not as strict and thorough with their rules.
People have blindly trusted bottled water for many years and have trusted the self regulating industry selling it to them. These companies, like Nestle, advertise some supposedly glorious health benefits of drinking bottled water, and will do whatever it takes to mask the negative aspects. The scientists that work for these companies have bias, and the studies they present to the FDA can be doctored and manufactured, and the FDA will blindly accept it just as the consumers do. These companies get to decide the price of the water and how and when to sell it, making water a commodity instead of a deserved necessity. These corporations have power over the water, and can control our access to a vital element of life. They pump out the water for free or minimal costs, and sell it at a grand profit.
In addition, 40% of bottled water is just filtered tap water, like Dasani and Aquafina. These municipal water sources are also tested many times a day, unlike bottled waters. Tap water is very safe, but big corporations have convinced people to shy away from them and fear them Simply buying a filter, like Brita, and filtering the tap water is safe, easy, cost efficient, environmentally friendly, and socially healthy. Metal water bottles or other types of water bottles that last for a long time are obvious solutions to this problem. They are not just used once and then tossed aside into the trash can that has become this planet. These can be easily refillable and can come from one’s own home free of charge, The only charge would be the initial cost of the water bottle and then one is set for life.
Plastic water bottles have weaved their way into the lives of human beings and now people rely on them as a source of “pure” and “fresh” nutrition. Corporations have tricked people into believing this with their misleading labels and commercials. The truth is a sick and scary tale of deceit and deprivation of water from the local water sources. Water is a necessity and a right of life and to put the access of this essential element in the hands of money hungry, manipulative corporations is a dangerous idea that should be fought against. Do yourself and the world a favor and buy a hydro flask or any type of water bottle that is not bottled water.
Information for this article came from the One Green Planet website (http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/whats-the-problem-with-plastic-bottles/ )and the National Center for Biotechnology website (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3222987/)
Photo credit: Creative Commons