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Did You Know?

Wednesday, Mar. 5, 2014

According to the Pacific Institute, it can take 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of bottled water. So, if your goal is to save water (as it should be, especially during a drought!), turn to the tap. Tap water is the better choice for a variety of other reasons, too.

Money. If you’re looking to save money, then tap water is the answer. Tap water costs about $0.002 per gallon compared to the $0.89 to $8.26 per gallon charge for bottled water. Considering price versus production cost, bottled water puts Big Oil to shame! But even given this dramatic price difference, some consumers opt for bottled water for perceived health benefits, such as the notion that bottled water is more healthy and of higher quality--but this is inaccurate. Believe it or not, almost half of bottled water is sourced from municipalities, a.k.a. tap water.

Health. Bottled water can actually be poor for your health. Laced into the plastic material of bottled water are chemicals that can seep out if bottles are exposed to heat or sit around for a long time. Studies have found fertilizer, pharmaceuticals, disinfectants, and other harmful chemicals in bottled water, some of which are endocrine disruptors. These can alter, mimic or block hormone production or the system that carries them. Furthermore, it is important to note that bottled water has fewer regulations than tap water as the Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA) oversees the former, while the U.S. EPA is responsible for the latter.

Environment. It may be common knowledge that bottled water is bad for the environment. But how bad? If the bottles are recycled, that reduces the environmental consequences, right? Well, unfortunately, over 80 percent of plastic bottles are simply discarded, ending up in landfills or polluting waterways and oceans. Bottled water produces up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year. And in order to produce that plastic, 47 million gallons of oil is used. That could fuel over 1 million cars annually!

Social equity. Worldwide, there is a need for investments in public water systems to ensure equal access to water, a key ingredient for prosperity and health for all people. Today, 768 million people do not have access to safe, clean drinking water, and 2.5 billion people live without proper sanitation. Three main corporations control the bottled water industry: Nestlé, Pepsi, and Coca Cola. These companies are changing the way people think about water and undermining people's confidence in public water systems. They run over communities' concerns and the environment when they extract water and build bottling plants to get local spring and groundwater. To alleviate this issue, we need to vote with our dollar, and opt for tap over bottled water.

Think Outside the Bottle (TOTB) SCU, a student-led campaign, is aiming to educate the SCU community about all the harms associated with bottled water. The goal of TOTB is to promote tap water over bottled water, and ultimately have SCU become a bottled water free University. You can help by signing the pledge to “think outside the bottle” here.

Contributed by Kelsey Baker ‘14, Sustainability Intern, Communications


Tags: Did You Know?, Water



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