Bottled water is the world’s bestselling soft drink. In the UK alone, we glugged 2.4 billion litres of the stuff in 2015, which rose to 2.8 billion litres in 2016 – an alarming upward trend.
Although staying hydrated is good for us, achieving this by downing 22 billion plastic water bottles globally each year is decidedly not good for our planet.
Bottled water brands have poured millions into convincing us that their water is the healthiest, safest option. Yet recent research has revealed that bottled water is subject to far less stringent safety tests than tap water, and is much more likely to be contaminated or cause infection.
It’s hard to believe that we’ve been collectively duped for so long, and are prepared to splash out on bottled water costing up to 1000 times more than the safer, healthier (and often tastier) water we can enjoy for free from the nearest tap.
Aside from the financial drawbacks of buying bottled water, there are plenty of environmental reasons to skip the bottled water too.plastic water bottle too.
Here are our top 6 reasons for ditching single-use plastic water bottles for good, and switching to a reusable water bottle instead…
1. Producing plastic water bottles, filling them up, and transporting them to where they are going to be sold is expensive, and uses up valuable natural resources in an unsustainable way.
2. Plastic water bottles leach harmful chemical toxins into water, especially when exposed to heat and light, which is unfortunately where they are most likely to be drunk (e.g. a hot sunny day on the beach).
3. Once the contents have been drunk, single-use plastic water bottles create mountains of waste that don’t go away. Every single piece of plastic ever created still exists somewhere on this planet!
4. Even if you try to recycle your plastic water bottles, only a fraction will be recycled. The vast majority end up clogging our landfills (which have finite space) littering the countryside, eventually making their way to the waterways and ocean.
5. Once plastic water bottles are in the environment, they are a hazard to birds, marine wildlife and fish who become entangled or choked, or starved on a diet of plastic bottle tops and broken down plastic pieces.
6. Time in the ocean breaks plastic down into tiny toxic particles known as a plastic smog. This smog attracts and absorbs other pollutants, and micro-plastic is mistaken for food by fish, where it enters our food chain.
So, what can you do to make a difference and tackle plastic pollution?
Recycling is not a good enough solution to keep on top of the massive volumes of plastic water bottles we consume each year. Besides, recycling is actually the 3rd of the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle – and so should be the last resort.
What’s more, a single-use plastic water bottle can never be recycled into another single-use plastic water bottle. Instead, it is downcycled into something less valuable, such as textiles, so recycling is not as attractive a solution as it first seems.
To truly make a difference to the issues of plastic pollution caused by single-use water bottles we need to massively reduce the amount of new disposable water bottles being produced, purchased and discarded every year, and the most effective way to do this is to always carry a reusable water bottle that we refill from the tap.
You can make a personal commitment today to never again buy bottled water when there is a safe tap water option.
It takes a little forward planning to remember to carry your reusable water bottle every day, but like any habit, once it’s easy after a little practice.
Our favourite reusable water bottles are made from steel or glass (not plastic!) – if you need a new reusable water bottle, browse our top picks here.
You can also keep an eye out for local campaigns to get involved in to help promote alternatives to bottled water, such as Refill, which aims to make it easier for people to refill their reusable water bottles when they are out and about. Look out for a campaign near you, or get in touch with City to Sea for advice on starting one in your community.
Finally, you can help clean up the plastic pollution that is already out there by regularly picking up litter wherever you see it, especially close to rivers, canals and the sea.
Getting involved in beach cleans is another rewarding way to do something amazing and help get plastic pollution out of the ocean. Every piece of plastic you remove from the beach no longer has the potential to harm or kill marine wildlife, which means any time you spend on a beach removing plastic is time spent doing something really positive to make the world a better place.