Roughly 25 to 40 percent of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle – sometimes further treated, sometimes not. There are increasing concerns about the health effects of drinking water that has been stored in certain petroleum-based plastics. In a recent study by German researchers, nearly 25,000 chemicals were found lurking in a single bottle of water. Studies continue on exposures to harmful chemicals from plastics leaching into liquids stored in the bottle. While these issues continue to be under investigation, we as consumers can choose to drink from containers made of glass, steel, aluminum, and lead-free ceramics.
At least 1.5 million barrels of oil are used each year to create the 28 billion plastic water bottles purchased by consumers in the United States, and at least 86 percent of those bottles end up in landfills and incinerators, according to the Container Recycling Institute, Center for American Progress.
In order to both reduce costs and improve their ecological footprint, several leading US cities have chosen to levy a special tax or ban the use of city funds to purchase, single-serving bottled water, including: San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Jose, Santa Barbara, Seattle, Salt Lake City, and Chicago. On March 4, 2014, the city of San Francisco became the first major city to pass a ban that would prohibit the sale of plastic water bottles on city owned property (learn more).
- Explore the Executive Summary of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s comprehensive, 4-year investigation into the bottled water issue – “Bottled Water: Pure Drink or Pure Hype?”
- Find a local retailer of reusable water bottles. Use the ‘Buy Green’ Search tool at San Mateo County RecycleWorks,’ or call your local health food or outdoor recreation store.
*All above information gathered from the San Mateo Countywide Water Pollution Prevention website: http://flowstobay.org, the Natural Resource Defense Council website: www.nrdc.org, and the San Mateo County RecycleWorks’ website: www.recycleworks.org.