Recently a dozen high school students in California were taken to hospitals after getting sick from drinking Aquafina bottled water. Despite the fact that manufacturer Pepsi insists its water undergoes a seven-step purification process, Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Steve Zermeno was quoted on Fox News saying the bottled appeared to contain a "bleach-like substance."
How is this possible, you ask? It's simple: Bottled water is not required to be tested for safety in the U.S. Contrary to what many people believe about that water being "cleaner," the truth is nobody knows what goes into your plastic water bottle. The EPA tests our water daily for bacteria and posts the results to the general public, while the FDA only requires weekly testing of bottled water and doesn't make its results public.
In fact, if you're still stocking up on those plastic water bottles to put in your kids' backpacks, consider that:
- Bottled water costs more than gas and can ring up at $50 a month.
- It's not required to be tested for safety.
- Not to mention the environmental costs of the bottle manufacturing.
- Or the fact that when they get warm, those plastic bottles can leach chemicals into your children's water-and bodies.
- And that water from the tap can actually be safer than what's in the bottle, as demonstrated by the high school incident.
Are the risks of plastic water bottles really worth the convenience?
To play devil's advocate here, I'll admit that some kids get snooty about the taste of tap water-especially when they're used to juice or Gatorade. If they don't like the way your tap water tastes, try it filtered. Most filters use carbon to filter out lead, copper, chlorine and mercury. Faucet-mounted filters work the same way, but they can also remove things like giardia, lead and pesticides, all of which can be present in tap water. You can get a similar set up for your fridge.
But bottled water is just bad all around. First of all, as I mentioned, you don't know what's in it. I don't know about you, but giardia is one thing I want to avoid. And then there's the plastic factor: Americans throw away eight out of 10 bottles, sending about 38 billion water bottles a year to landfills. That's a billion dollars worth of plastic not only from water bottles, but bottles for juice, energy drinks, sports drinks, and so on.
It takes 24 million gallons of oil to make just a billion of those bottles. That's enough oil to fuel 30,000 cars for a year. Now multiply that 24 million gallons by the 38 billion bottles. Does anyone have a calculator?
Plus, there's the energy and global warming factor: In contrast to tap water, which is distributed through an energy-efficient infrastructure, transporting bottled water long distances involves burning massive quantities of fossil fuels.
Still not convinced? Studies have shown that Bisephenol A (BPA), which mimics estrogen and messes with your hormones, can leach from plastic bottles into their containers.
Finally, there's the cost factor. As a public utility, tap water is virtually free. Here's how the budget breaks down:
- A water filter pitcher costs between $10 and $40; replacement filters run about $9 each and last about 40 gallons (approximately two months worth of water). Your average water filter pitcher cost at 20 gallons per month: $17 per month initially; $4.50 thereafter.
- A faucet-mounted filter will cost you about $20 to $50, with replacement filters averaging at about $20 each and lasting about 100 gallons (approximately five months worth of water). Your average faucet-mounted filter cost at 20 gallons per month:$39 per month initially; $4 thereafter.
- Are you ready for this? Bottle water costs an average of between $1 and $4 per gallon. Your average bottled water cost at 20 gallons per month: $50
Bottles are out and the tap is iffy: Go with the pitcher or faucet filter at $4 per month and encourage your kids to take their water on the go in recyclable, reusable stainless-steel water bottles that costs about $20 and last forever! If they wouldn't keep losing the darned tops.
Are you banning the plastic bottle in your household? Is it challenging or easy? Tell me about it!
By Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, www.EcoStiletto.com
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