Drinking water and the environment
Plastic bottles are a major problem for the environment and our health. Not only does the poor ecological balance thanks to the packing material and energy used to transport the water have an impact on our environment, but also their disposal and the related pollution.
The true cost of drinking water from bottle
Drinking water from bottles instead of from the tap is very bad for the environment. The journey of a supermarket bottle of water usually includes many stages that all consume a significant amount of energy.
- production of plastic bottles or washing/sterilizing glass bottles
- production of the outer packaging
- transport to the wholesaler/distribution warehouse
- transport to the retailer/individual store
- transport home
- disposal of the bottles in the trash, recycling of the materials, or returning for reuse in a deposit system
Bottled water that travels more than 200 km to its consumer uses 0.12 liters of oil per liter of water. If the water comes from a distance of 1,000 km, this figure jumps to up to 0.32 liters of oil per liter of water.
Water from the tap, however, only uses the equivalent of 0.0003 liters oil per liter of drinking water.
Drinking water as commodity
Various studies and documentaries have addressed the commercialization of our drinking water by the suppliers of bottled water, which, after all, is nothing other than water from a spring or even tap water, which is then bottled and often sold for a thousand times the original cost.
The American documentary "Bottled Life" garnered a lot of attention in recent years. The filmmakers take a critical look at the business deals done by Nestlé, the leading provider of bottled water on the market. The following video is the trailer for the documentary.
The entire documentary can be found here:
Plastic bottles in our environment
The motion of the waves and UV light eventually break down the plastic waste that makes its way into our seas, eventually even crushing the plastic down to a fine powder. As the plastic gets broken down into ever smaller pieces, it is consumed by various marine life instead of or in place of their normal food. Starting with the plankton, the plastic particles containing toxic, cancer-causing chemicals such as DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls begin to make their way up the food chain. Eventually, the plastic waste and its toxins eventually reaches food meant for human consumption.
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Plastic micro-particles in the sea
In the 1980s, scientists still assumed that plastic particles were not relevant to the environment since like seaweed they are colonized by algae and other microorganisms. The scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology reported a study showing the presence of plastic micro-particles on many beaches on all six continents. These probably include fleece and other fibers from clothing made of synthetic materials. Studies have found as many as 1,900 tiny plastic particles in the water draining off a single load of laundry.
"Every little piece of plastic manufactured in the past 50 years that has reached the sea is still in there somewhere."
(Tony Andrady, Chemist, American Research Triangle Institute)
Plastic waste is destroying marine ecosystems
Plastic waste has a significant impact on marine ecosystems. Larger sea creatures are especially at risk of mechanical injury, such as seals getting stuck in crates and fish and dolphins getting tangled up in abandoned fishing nets.
"At least 136 marine species are known to strangle themselves by getting entangled on a regular basis in garbage thrown in the sea" – German Federal Environmental Office
Albatrosses and fulmars confuse the bits of garbage with food and eat them. They feel full, but they eventually starve because their stomachs are full of garbage. Whales and dolphins are also consuming the waste. Charles Curtis Ebbesmeyer found a 100 pieces of plastic in a dead baby albatross that had been fed to it by its parents (National Geographic 10/2005).