Why NOT to Buy Bottled Water
By: Robert DeAngelis
Why not? It’s convenient.
Why not? Because by purchasing bottled water we’re being hoodwinked, and at significant environmental cost. Do you remember the folktale The Emperor’s New Clothes? An Emperor gets duped into thinking he’s purchased magnificent clothes, which are only invisible to those who are stupid or incompetent.
As a result of a great con job and peer pressure, he’s seen naked by his whole empire. What a fool!
Now we fast forward to today, and here come the swindlers who value their profits and ignore the many negative impacts these bottles of water have. My dad would have laughed at the thought of anyone paying a high price for water in a bottle (which is almost free from the tap). And he would have been sad to see all the nonsensical waste. Americans consumed 13 billion gallons of bottled water last year (source: Statistica). So here are some very good reasons why NOT to buy bottled water.
- We have excellent, safe, quality water in Yorktown. This is not Flint, Michigan. According to “The Travel” website, New York City has one of the 10 best tasting drinking waters in the country, and Yorktown water is similar. If you don’t like the slight taste of chlorine (which is there for our safety) install a carbon filter, use a Brita or similar pitcher, or simply leave it in the refrigerator overnight and the chlorine will dissipate into the air as a gas. (That is why those with swimming pools have to keep adding chlorine). You can purchase a filter with a 5 year life for your drinking water for about $30 on Amazon or in a home supply store.
- And, according to Consumer Reports (Jan 2021) “…it’s true that most bottled water sold in the U.S. is not spring water. Instead, most come from the same municipal sources as tap water – something consumers may not be aware of. Coca-Cola produces its Dasani water at its Detroit plant by purchasing, treating, and bottling municipal water before selling it at an upcharge to consumers. Pepsi bottles its Aquafina water brand in Detroit in the same way”.
- Why waste our purchasing dollars? Bottled water costs about 600 times as much as tap water. It is about $1.20 a gallon compared to less than a penny a gallon from the tap. (This is based on the price of Poland Spring 16.9 oz bottles at Walmart and the production price of water in Yorktown.)
- Water bottles are energy hogs! Bottled water takes about 1,600 times as much energy to produce and deliver (source: Phys.org). That has a direct correlation to the amount of CO2 produced (and other pollutants) along the way. Think about the life cycle of a bottle of water. First the plastic is made, then it is filled, shipped to a store, picked up in a car, consumed by you, picked up by the recycle truck etc. There are about 30 polluting steps along the life cycle of a plastic bottle.
- Plastic water bottles are destroying our plant and animal habitats! 8 million tons of plastic bottles are ending up in our oceans every year. As they break down, they end up in the human food chain. If we don’t fix this, soon there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans. This has been reported by many sources. During the last Battle of Yorktown litter pickup, just my neighbor and I picked up about 1,000 bottles between Revere Drive and Underhill Avenue (many in the wetlands). Those bottles would eventually end up in the reservoir, the Hudson, and finally the Atlantic…
- Recycling is NOT the Answer! According to the EPA, recycling costs between $50 and $100 per ton. The total cost of recycling includes significant labor, local trucks for weekly pick up, trucking to the Yonkers sorting facility, sorting, cleaning and shipping again to a recycling facility. Each of these steps uses significant fossil fuels. The carbon footprint of the trucks that pick up the recycling in Yorktown is about 290 metric tons per year. While recycling is better than burning or placing plastic waste in a landfill, it should be avoided due to the significant negative environmental impact. It is disturbing to see some new ads that feature how “recyclable” their bottles are. Keep in mind all the negative aspects of recycling. We, as taxpayers, have to pay the cost (financial and environmental) for recycling. In the Town of Yorktown, it costs about $700,000 dollars per year. Much of this can all be avoided by not using unnecessary plastic in the first place.
And what about the convenience of bottled water? Simply purchase a reusable bottle. A stainless-steel bottle will last a lifetime and there are quality reusable plastic bottles available.
Humans have been on earth for about 200,000 years. We have somehow miraculously survived without plastic water bottles for virtually all of that time. Let’s join together to eliminate this unnecessary waste and its negative environmental impact.
Yorktown100 is a 100% volunteer group of neighbors working to reduce our carbon footprint by 5% a year through various programs.
Our next Community Meeting is Monday, April 12th at 7PM on Sustainable Gardening and Lawn Care. Hear from your neighbors in Yorktown about Pollinator Pockets, Native Plants and alternatives to gas-powered lawn care equipment.
Visit Yorktown100.org for more event details.
Bob DeAngelis is a retired IBM engineering manager often seen biking or hiking in the area.