I recently went hiking with a couple of buddies the flatirons near Boulder. I woke up in the morning and paced up my boots, grabbed a few cliff bars, and of course filled up my Nalgene to be sure to have water for the hike. I got picked up and we were on our way. When we were around ten minutes out one of my buddies asked if we should stop and get some water. What? Of course we should. Of course you need water. So we pulled into the nearest grocery store and he proceeded to buy a 24 pack of water bottles for around 7 dollars, a good deal he said.
The average American consumes around 55 gallons of water every year. Or at least should. Assuming your average plastic water bottle is around 16 ounces or so and one gallon is 128 ounces, if you were to get your water only from store-bought bottles you would go through 440 bottles every year. Now my buddy did manage to get a bit of a deal on his bottles considering the average cost of a bottle of water is around $1.20 and he got his for only around $0.30. Even so if he were to buy all of his water in bottles it would cost him over $100 per year. Now maybe that isn’t a huge number to pay for the thing most essential to life, but consider this. In Denver the price of water per 1,000 gallons is $2.78 according to Denver Water. That’s less that $0.01 per gallon. So he could’ve had all that bottled water through the tap for less than $1 a year.
Bottle water usage is at an all-time high with almost 40% of a person’s annual water consumption coming out of a bottle. Why the increase? Well some people are worried about contamination in their local supply which is a possibility, but it turns out that almost %40 percent of bottled water comes from a municipal source anyways, so you’re only increasing the distance between you and the tap.
So what’s the real issue? It’s one we’ve all heard a thousand times. Bottled water is bad for the environment. Sure the polyethylene terephthalate, or PET, most water bottles are made from is incredibly easy to recycle with almost 100% retention of it’s original properties and able to be reused up to 100 times. But nowhere near 100% of all plastic is recycled. Actually only around 25% of plastic bottles find their way to a recycling bin. The other 75% ends up in landfills, never even glimpsing its full potential. Recycling the other 75% would save 1 billion gallons of oil and 44 million cubic yard of landfill space in the us each year.
So maybe bottled water isn’t the worst thing in the world, and there are valid reasons for it’s popularity whether it be convenience, safety, or whatever you want to tell yourself. But the next time to you reach for that bottle of not-so-smart water, remember the cost. And at the very least, please recycle.
Written by Jack Zeis, ESLLC 2015-2016
“Plastic Bottle Manufacturing.” Plastic Bottle Manufacturing. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.
“22 Facts About Plastic Pollution (And 10 Things We Can Do About It).” EcoWatch. N.p., 07 Apr. 2014. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.
PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.
“Denver Water.” 2015 Rates: Inside City. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Jan. 2016.