The main environmental impact associated with bottled water comes from the plastic used to make and transport the bottles. The World Wide Fund for Nature has estimated that the bottled water industry generates 1.5 million tons of plastic every single year. Much of this plastic ends up in the landfill; however, even if every plastic water bottle produced were recycled, it would still not be a good deal for the environment. This is because the energy needed to produce the bottles and transport them to stores uses up large amounts of fossil fuels, and contributes to global warming. Water is very heavy, so trucking deliveries of bottled water across the country uses up a lot of gasoline. Add to all this the fact that bottled water has not been proven to be significantly more healthy than tap water (and in fact sometimes carries more contaminants than water from the tap), and it is clearly better for the planet not to buy into the bottled water industry at all.
I don’t think you can talk about plastic waste without mentioning the North Pacific Gyre. This is an area of the Pacific that has accumulated enough plastic waste that it is now the size of Texas. That’s right, it is a mass of plastic the size of Texas! You can read more about it at the site of an organization that was started to study the trash gyre here: http://www.algalita.org/index.htm
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