There is no pure water on our planet. Period.
Not tap water, water processed through carbon filters, or any sort of mass-marketed bottled spring water that comes from that exotic island in the South Pacific lives up to the highly touted claims of purity that advertisers would have you believe. It’s true, much of the water we drink from various sources has been filtered, distilled, or otherwise been treated. But the fact is, contaminants still remain. The term “pure” also suggests that there is nothing in the water, but even water in its natural state has minerals in it. When filtration processes remove the minerals, as is done for numerous bottled water products, the water becomes highly reactive and will interact with organic material such as air or plastic from a bottle. For people who are seeking the healthiest form of water that’s available, this is highly undesirable.
In fact, it would seem that the bottled water craze that has taken over much of the developed world is in direct contradiction to not only human health, but the health of our planet as well.
Bottled Water Blues
Environmentalists frequently talk about unsustainable practices that are detrimental to the environment. Perhaps there is no practice that is more unsustainable than the production, delivery and consumption of bottled water.
The growing list of ways in which the use of bottled water is not only impractical, but also not as healthy or even tasty as we think, is quite eye opening. When water is distilled for bottling purposes, all of its minerals are removed. They are only sometimes added back in to provide taste. Tap water naturally contains these minerals. Sometimes it has an off taste because of chlorine content. To remove the chlorine, it’s as simple as leaving the water in the fridge with a loose lid overnight and the flavor will disappear. One of the more recent fads and marketing ploys in bottled water is to sell a vitamin enhanced variety. These waters are hardly nutritious, considering that most of them have high levels of sugars as well as artificial flavors and colorings. Furthermore, many pack far more calories than a diet soda and their vitamin content is hardly significant enough to provide anything close to recommended daily dosages.
The use of bottled water is also significantly damaging to our planet, not to mention our wallets. Take into consideration that tap water costs about $0.00002 per ounce, while bottled water cost anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 times more than that, and you quickly realize it is not a very good deal. Furthermore, the waste created by consumption of bottle water is not only shocking, but shameful as well.
Considering the amount of plastic necessary to make bottled water available to the masses, it is a product that is nothing short of being terrible for the environment. From manufacturing and shipping to shelving and marketing, bottled water products are wholly unsustainable.
The demand in the United States alone for plastic water bottles uses up enough oil during production and shipping to run a few hundred thousand cars for a year. Worldwide, nearly 3 million tons of plastic are used for bottled water products each year. Nearly 90 percent of all plastic bottles bypass recycling centers and head straight for the garbage. Once in the ground, they can take up to 1,000 years to fully degrade. Part of the reason plastic bottles aren’t recycled is that in most states, they do not have a redemption value like soda and beer bottles. With the volume of bottled water manufactured and consumed, it certainly seems like increasing the incentive to recycle is an important step.
In 2007, 8.8 billion gallons of water were sold throughout the world. In many cases, the water was imported from a foreign country, further enhancing the environmental liability. In fact, one recent study indicates that nearly one quarter of all bottled water has to cross international borders in order to reach consumers. A prime example of unsustainable water use is Fiji water, which is taken from a small aquifer on an island and frequently shipped halfway around the world. For every bottle of water that is shipped, a half a pound of greenhouse gasses is produced. The U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of imported bottled water.
In some parts of the world, tap water is simply not drinkable. In such cases, bottled water makes sense. But for the rest of the world that has access to clean tap water, bottled water usage creates far more problems than it solves.
Back to the Tap
We know that there is know such think as pure water. We also know that bottled water is far from being everything it is cracked up to be. So what options do we have? The best thing is to figure out what our desired goals are for water purity and gain access to the healthiest water possible. For those of us living in developed nations, it is possible to achieve this by drinking tap water that we filter ourselves. There are kits you can buy for your home that will help you to identify contaminants in your tap water and then remove them.
Water is an essential need for our survival. It is in our best interest to care about local water sources, be educated about how to manage them and secure the best possible water for our long-term health and longevity.