Americans consumer over 10 billion gallons of water each year owing to the fact that it’s convenient to carry around, tastier than tap water and it is calorie-free. Bottled water is literally available everywhere, in stores, supermarkets, homes, restaurants, offices etc. In the same survey, bottled water consumers cited health as the main reason why they prefer to use bottled water. 56% cited taste while 55% named convenience as the greatest influences on their choice to drink bottle water. One in three consumers attested that they are confident that bottled water is safer and cleaner because of the treatment they undergo before being distributed to the consumers.
But is that really the case?
More and more people, organizations and lobby groups are beginning to question whether the water and the package it comes in, is safe, or at least healthier than tap water. Is the convenience of using bottled water worth the environmental impact?
Even if bottled water sells up to a thousand times the price of tap water, it may not be necessarily healthier or safer. That’s according to the report commissioned by the Switzerland-based environmental organization. The report cited the lack of specific codes and standards that regulates bottled water. The survey report added that there are in fact more regulations governing the use of tap water in U.S and Europe than those applied in the bottled water industry.
Nevertheless, in the U.S. A, bottled water is regarded as a packaged product and hence it’s regulated by the laws of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Water bottler companies are so successful, in fact, they’ve outpaced coffee, milk and juice in the number of gallons of drinks sold per day, putting it just behind soda and beer.
Stephen Kay (International Bottled Water Association) said that bottled water is deemed necessary in most regions of the world where there is no known safe potable water source and an alternative for people living in countries where there’s adequate supply of clean water.
So, are there any steps being undertaken or at least being discoursed to curb the increasing use of bottled water?
Certain policy makers, environmentalists and activists have come up with various strategies to reduce consumption of bottled water and create awareness on the importance of drinking tap water. In September 2009, Bundanoon, an Australian city, became the first city in the world to ban the use of bottled water in and around its environs. They then installed water fountains in various corners of the city.
San Francisco, Seattle and Chicago are the few U.S cities which no longer purchase water for city use. These cities levy additional 5% tax on each bottle of water. Several restaurants in these cities offer tap water instead of the convenient’ bottled water.
The WWF International has not been left behind. Biksham Gujja, one of the spirited members of the environmental organization told Reuters their report is just the beginning of creating public awareness on the use tap water. At the end, their goal is to convince the public to fore go bottled water for tap water.
Where do the billions of water bottles manufactured every year end up?
According to Columbia Water Center, 80% of recyclable plastic bottles end up in landfills. These bottles are non-biodegradable and the longer they pile up in the environment, the more they release toxic substances. This information is backed up by the World Wildlife Fund International report.
Since bottler companies transport bottled water to various destinations of the world, chances are release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere is inevitable. Carbon dioxide is one of those gases that exacerbates global warming. Billions of gallons of bottled water are normally consumed outside of the country of origin.
Well, tap water, however, is more likely to be contaminated than bottled water since it doesn’t go through the same treatment and testing purification process. Richard Holland, another member of WWF said that bottled water is not a sustainable solution for securing safer and healthier water in the future. He finishes by saying that the world needs to protect its clean natural water sources so that it can deliver ‘eco-friendly’ quality drinking water to its ever-growing population.
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