The bottled water industry is big business worldwide and has continued to grow over the years. Due to the convenience of disposable water bottles, you are guaranteed to find bottled water almost everywhere you go.
Over the years, it has become clear just how bad plastic water bottles are for the environment. From the way they are produced to the way they are trashed, plastic water bottles wreak havoc in their wake.
Today, we’ll be addressing the issue of why are plastic bottles so bad for the environment. We’ll also guide you on how to help end the plastic water bottles pollution menace.
Why Are Plastic Water Bottles Bad for the Environment?
Effects on the environment
- Plastic water bottles do not biodegrade
Plastic water bottles are not biodegradable but with time, or rather a lot of time, they break down into microplastics. These microplastics remain on Earth forever and release toxic chemicals into the environment.
- Plastic water bottles use up too much energy
Plastic bottles are produced using polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a petroleum product. It takes huge amounts of fossil fuels to make and transport the bottles. You need about ¼ a bottle of oil to make the bottle. That’s quite a lot of oil for a single-use disposable item.
The harm on animals
- Plastics ends up in animals’ stomachs
Plastic bottle tops are not recyclable and often end up at the bottom of the ocean where marine animals mistake them for food. Some animals choke from these bottles, others die from the toxins produced by the bottle tops in their stomachs.
The dangers of plastic bottles on humans
- Your bottled water is probably just glorified tap water
Most of us buy bottled water despite the many problems with plastic water bottles because we believe that bottled water is of higher quality and more pristine than our tap water. Most bottled water companies make it seem like their bottled water is purer than tap water.
The truth is that water that is bottled from special springs is rare. Most bottled water comes from similar sources as your municipal water supply. So essentially, there is nothing special about your bottled water other than its branding.
- Water bottle companies are unregulated
Unlike tap water, bottled water undergoes very little regulation, and recent studies have found traces of harmful toxins such as phthalates, mold, microbes, arsenic, and thousands of other contaminants in bottled water.
- You might be drinking microplastics
One of the biggest dangers of plastic bottles is that they release microplastics which get into the water you end up drinking. A World Health Organisation (WHO) study found that 93% of popular bottled water brands were selling water with plastic fibers.
Medical research has shown microplastics pose potential long-term effects when consumed constantly.
- Reusing water bottles is dangerous
Often, we find ourselves refilling disposable water bottles several times in an effort to reduce our carbon footprint. While this may seem like a responsible deed, it can actually be dangerous to reuse a single-use water bottle.
The more you reuse plastic water bottles the more they release additional chemicals and microplastics. Additionally, it’s nearly impossible to clean the bottles well due to their shape. This puts you at risk of ingesting bacteria.
- Drinking bottled water can cause development and fertility issues
One of the many problems with plastic water bottles is that most of them contain BPA. BPA is an industrial chemical that’s used to make certain plastics and resins.
When consumed in large amounts, BPA acts as a faux-estrogen and can cause a variety of chromosomal abnormalities linked to birth defects and developmental disabilities in children. The faux-estrogen can also cause decreased fertility in both men and women.
Unborn babies exposed to BPA while in the womb can develop complications such as hyperactivity disorders, early-onset puberty, and an increased risk for certain cancers later in life. Pregnant women are, therefore, encouraged not to drink bottled water, especially from Type 7 plastic bottles.
- Drinking bottled water can lead to weight gain
Have you been trying to lose weight and nothing seems to work? Your favorite bottled water might just be the culprit.
The problem with plastic water bottles made using BPA and BHPF is that they release these chemicals into the water. BP and BHPF are believed to disrupt our hormones, especially estrogen. These two compounds when consumed influence the rate that fat is stored in your body and where this fat is stored leading to weight gain and difficulty losing weight.
- Raising concern over cancer threat
In addition to the negative impacts of BPA and phthalates on human health, there are also growing concerns that bottled water contains carcinogens and microbial contaminants that are believed to cause or increase the risk of cancer.
- Growing water shortage
Water bottling companies cause problems for the people living near them. Millions of gallons of water are used to make water bottles. This often leads to local water shortages for nearby residents, especially farmers. Water shortage around the world is already a growing concern.
What You Can Do About The Water Bottle Problem
It’s about time you break your plastic bottled water habit for good! Making a conscious decision to say no to plastic water bottles can greatly help to reduce plastic bottle problems affecting our environment.
Saying no this harmful but convenient habit can be a tall order but here are a few simple steps that you can take that will see you go to zero plastic water bottle use in no time:
- Find alternatives to plastic water bottles: Convenience is what makes us stick to a habit. Stock up your home with plenty of reusable stainless steel and glass water bottles that you can conveniently use to carry drinking water throughout the day.
Involve your family and friends in the process: Tell your friends and family about your decision to ditch plastic water bottles so that they can help you do it and hopefully join you too. Explain to them how plastic water bottles affect the environment and the positive impact of using alternatives to plastics has on the environment.
- Purchase a water filter: Get a water filter and keep it in your refrigerator. Use it every morning to refill your reusable water bottles for the day.
- Replace other plastics too: It’s not just plastic water bottles that are causing environmental harm. Other household items made from plastic such as cutlery, food containers, plastic bags, etc. are a menace too. Do your best to replace such items in your house.
- Recycle: There will be times when you must take bottled water, when this happens, make sure that you recycle the plastic bottle.
Should Water Bottles Be Banned?
An estimated 500 billion plastic water bottles are used worldwide each year. In America alone, over 50 billion plastic water bottles are consumed each year. Less than half of these bottles are recycled. The rest end up somewhere in our environment causing lifelong damage.
But is that enough reason to ban bottled water?
A ban on bottled water would reduce waste and protect the environment by preventing the manufacture, purchase, use, and throwing away up to 68 billion plastic water bottles every year.
It would also reduce exposure to potentially contaminated sources of water and to the toxic chemicals emitted from the plastic bottles themselves and the plastic bottle manufacturing plants.
Following increased debates on how do plastic water bottles affect the environment, many governments have started banning single-use plastic water bottles.
San Francisco Airpor, for instance, has now banned plastic water bottles for sale in their terminals. This move is pegged to eliminate 4 million plastic water bottles annually.
However, it’s not just plastic water bottles that need to be banned, but, all plastic bottles in general. A ban on plastic water bottles alone will cause an increase in the purchase of other plastic bottled beverages such as soda and juices and therefore, not much will have been achieved.
How Long Does It Take for Plastic Bottles to Decompose?
One single plastic bottle takes up to 1,000 years to decompose.
How Do Plastic Bottles Contribute to Global Warming?
Because few plastic water bottles are recycled, more must be manufactured. The manufacturing process releases a host of toxic chemicals such as acetone, methyl ethyl ketone, and toluene, into the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases like sulfur oxides, nitrous oxides, and volatile organic compounds are also released into the atmosphere during this process. Additionally, when the bottles are being transported to the bottling plants, tons of carbon dioxide are released into the air.
Is It Bad to Reuse Water Bottles?
Yes reusing plastic water bottles is dangerous for your health. The more you reuse a plastic bottle, the more it continues to release microplastics which are harmful to your health.
Do Plastic Water Bottles Cause Cancer?
Plastic water bottles that are made with BPA and /or contain phthalates believed to release carcinogens and microbial contaminants that are known to cause cancer if consumed in large amounts.
What Can I Use Instead of Plastic Water Bottles?
There are lots of eco-friendly water bottles that you can use instead of plastic water bottles. Stainless steel and glass bottles are some of the best alternatives to plastic water bottles.
If you’ve been wondering why are plastic water bottles bad for the environment, now you know. And now the responsibility is on you. What are you going to do to reduce your role in destroying the environment? Are you willing to try to at least reduce your intake of bottled water? It simply starts with getting yourself a reusable water bottle!