By Aria Garrett, Copy Editor
You feed your money into the vending machine in front of you and hear the satisfying clunk of your water hitting the bottom of the container. You reach inside and grab the bottle containing refreshingly pure water sourced directly from the top of the picturesque mountain found on its label.
Because you brought your own water bottle to school, right?
No? Well, you shouldn’t be buying bottled water. Here’s eight reasons why:
- It’s not well regulated. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the bottled water industry faces fewer regulations in the United States than your tap water providers do. Regulations by the government are necessary to ensure your water does not contain pollutants, chemicals or anything otherwise harmful.
- It’s expensive. In Seattle, most people end up paying under a penny for a gallon of water. Compare that with a gallon of Dasani water, which in our high school vending machine costs around $1 for 16.9 ounces. That is approximately 760 times more!
- It could be bad for your health over an extended period of time. The plastic in these bottles often leach chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA and other “endocrine disruptors” can mess with your hormones (not to mention leave you with a bad taste in your mouth).
- It creates a lot of waste. A WWF report estimates that manufacturing these plastic bottles annually uses 1.5 million tons of plastic. Furthermore, the Pacific Institute states that in 2006, “It took three liters of water to produce one liter of bottled water.” Ironic, huh? On top of that, there are 35 billion plastic bottles that are tossed by Americans every year, according to the University of Utah College of Architecture and Planning. “By using reusable drink containers, an average person can eliminate the need for 100 disposable bottles per year,” the fact sheet said.
- It’s a large source of fossil fuel consumption and air pollutants. In 2006, the Pacific Institute estimated that excluding transportation, “Producing the bottles for American consumption required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil …. Bottling water produced more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide.”
- It’s not special. Unless you are unfortunate enough to live in an area with terrible-tasting tap water, it is likely that you will not be able to tell the difference between tap and bottled water. A survey performed by the nonprofit organization Consumer Watchdog found that about 50 percent of their participants could not tell the difference between the two.
- It’s not that fancy, but if it is, that’s not something to be impressed by. It is commonly estimated that around 25 percent of bottled water is refiltered tap water. Yeah, that’s fairly disappointing because not only is it nearly indistinguishable from what you already have access to, but it is also often shipped from extremely large distances — significantly contributing to pollution. This is why you should also avoid companies that are legitimately from “exotic places” such as Fiji (around 5,900 miles away) because it means they are needlessly increasing transportation for a marketing scheme.
- The companies often outbid locals. It’s a well-known fact that many large corporations overshadow whomever they compete against, and while there aren’t solid statistics on this for obvious reasons, there still are many publicized case studies. For example, the company Nestlé in the past year has severely angered many residents in both Michigan and Centre Wellington (located in Ontario) by significantly increasing their access to the local water supply and decreasing the community’s access.
But this is not to say there is never a good reason to purchase bottled water. In cases of emergency storage, unsafe tap water or an otherwise lack of access, it makes sense to have some purchases. On the whole, however, your water fix can be easily solved by tap water filters and high-quality, reusable water bottles.