Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Bottled Water Scam

The sale of bottled water is a case of brilliant marketing—to convince the public to buy filtered bottled water—at a price per gallon that is higher than gasoline! The cost is great to the environment and to the consumer. 

Most plastic bottles do not get recycled.  Even if the bottles are recycled, they are the product of an energy consuming supply chain.  Bottling plants consume a lot of energy.  In addition, consider the diesel fuel consumed, and the resulting air pollution, from transporting thousands of truckloads of bottled water all over the country every day.

And the cost to the consumer—if a 16 oz. bottle of water costs $1, that’s $8 a gallon, twice as much as gasoline at its summer 2008 peak! What a scam!  It is ironic that we pay this price for water in a nation that has the cleanest and most widely available public water systems in the world.

A few statistics:

  • 70 million bottles of water are consumed in the U.S. each day.
  • Americans threw more than 22 billion water bottles in the trash in 2006.
  • Eight out of 10 plastic water bottles become landfill waste.
  • Plastic bottles take 700 years before they begin to decompose in a landfill.
  • It takes over 1.5 million barrels of oil to manufacture a year’s supply of bottled water. Apply the principle of supply and demand and consider the effect of the demand for a needless 1.5 million barrels of oil on the price of our gasoline! 
Most bottled water is just filtered municipal tap water.  We can save hundreds of dollars per year (and help the environment) by buying any one of several types of filtering pitchers or systems, filtering our own tap water, and filling our own reusable water bottles. The result is water that is just as clean and good-tasting as commercially filtered water.

As a runner, in addition to water, I use sports drinks for electrolyte replacement and for energy.  I've found that a good substitute for a bottled sports drink is a powdered sports drink and a reuseable aluminum bottle.  For a 32 ounce sports drink, consider how much fuel it takes to ship a few grams of powder, versus the fuel it takes to ship the same ingredients added to 2 pounds of water!  Sugar-free powdered electrolyte mixes come in a lot of flavors, and come in very small packets that fit easily in a pocket.   I like these when I just need hydration.  When my bottle is empty, I refill at a water fountain, and add the powder.  For long endurance runs, I may want a carb boost in addition to the electrolytes, so I carry the sugar-sweetened Gatorade mix in pre-measured portions in small containers.  I find that small prescription bottles make good containers for powder.

Run Green!


Rop said...

good post. i agree with you and use my own reusable bottle for drinking water.

Vern said...

Thank you for taking this Earth-friendly action and for visiting Running Green!