The global marketing and consumption of bottled water has quadrupled since 1990. Many major corporations have profited from the bottled water industry at the expense of the environment, human health and municipal water supplies. Coca-Cola owns Desani, Pepsi owns Aquafina and Nestle owns Poland Springs. According to the National Resource Defense Council 25 percent of bottled water is tap water in a bottle. Municipal water supplies are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. Bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and subjected to fewer regulations and safety standards than tap water. Plastic bottles leach many harmful chemicals including the endocrine disruptor bisphenol A and estrogenic chemicals which have been linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer, diabetes and to reproductive and neurological development.
The production of plastic bottles generates more than one hundred times more toxic emissions than the production of an equivalent amount of glass. More than 85 percent of all plastic water bottles end up in landfills or as litter. Plastic bottles are found on beaches and in our oceans where they pose a threat to marine life. Many plastic bottles are also now spinning in an endless vortex of plastic waste in the Pacific Ocean. Plastic bottles can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. Due to bottle bills in many states with a deposit return on carbonated beverage containers, three times as many, 31 percent, of plastic soda bottles are recycled than non-carbonated beverage containers such as water bottles.
The bottling and shipping of water is extremely inefficient. The amount of energy it takes to produce a plastic bottle of water is equivalent to filling the bottle one quarter full with oil. In contrast, municipal water suppliers require very energy to pump water into our homes. It takes three liters of water to produce one liter of bottled water. Corporate water suppliers often withdraw such large quantities of water from springs and aquifers that they deplete wells, damage wetlands and degrade lakes.
In many water taste tests in the United States tasters have chosen their local tap water over the taste of bottled water. In most U.S. communities, tap water is healthful, safe and a better choice than bottled water. Carbon filters can be installed on kitchen sinks if you feel the need to filter your drinking water. The cost of bottled water to our environment, our health and our wallets is astronomical.
The Green Sanctuary Committee at First Parish Watertown is asking everyone to choose to use a reusable metal or glass water bottle when away from home and to serve drinking water from pitchers into reusable drinking glasses at home, at work and in meetings. The Green Sanctuary Committee will also be hosting a screening of the film THIRST this fall on November 19.