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The Human Footprint Of Plastic Water Bottles

1394 words - 6 pages

Production and Distribution:
Plastic water bottles are considered one of the healthiest beverages you can find in any shop. But are they really all that healthy for the environment, or is there a fine line between a plastic bottled water drink and what’s best for everyone? Let’s take a look at bottled water from the very start to find out. To manufacture plastic bottles, polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is used, and to produce PET, crude oil and natural gas is required. If one fills a plastic water bottle 1/4th full with oil, they will be looking at how much oil was used to make that one bottle, so how much oil does it take to make all of America’s water bottles? According to the Pacific Institute, in 2006, making plastic water bottles for Americans required over 17 million barrels of oil. Once the PET is produced and the resources have been used faster than they will ever be produced, the PET goes through a long and complicated process to make the final product: bottled water. In the U.S. tap water is pure and safe, yet about 100 million plastic water bottles end up in U.S. landfills each day ("Canned Water 4 Kids"), these bottles take between 500 to 1,000 years to biodegrade, resulting in an extremely large footprint water bottles are leaving on our planet, therefore we need to reduce our impact and solve this problem.
After the water bottles are produced, they take ride to a warehouse where they stay until a store orders them, once they are on the shelves of a store, thirsty customers who are convinced bottled water is healthier and safer than tap water, buy the water bottles and consume them. The average American consumes 167 bottles of water each year ("Mighty Nest" 1), that is 70% or about 117 bottles more than it was in 2001. Tap water is not at all less healthy than bottled water, every day in America, more than 200 people test tap water for more than 250 compounds, and if the tap water does not meet state requirements, it can’t be distributed (ABC, 1). Bottled water does not have to reach state requirements to be distributed; that being the case, it is no healthier than tap water. In fact 22% of test water bottle brands had chemical contaminants higher than the state limit (ABC, 1). So why do Americans think bottled water is so great? Maybe it’s because of how much companies advertise the product, advertising expenses for bottled water totaled $61 million in 2012 ("International Bottled Water Association" 1). Whatever the reason may be, bottled water is the second most popular beverage in the U.S.A., and more and more bottles of water are being produced and distributed this very second.
Impact on Environment:
Only 20% of water bottles that are purchased make it to the recycle bin (Gunzelmann 1). So what happens to all the bottles that are not recycled? The bottles first photodegrade, meaning they slowly break down into smaller pieces, and then it is estimated to take between 500 to 1,000 years for the plastic to biodegrade. While...

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