Not only do we pay 2000 times the cost of tap water, or about $8/gallon when we buy a 16 ounce bottle, we also make a really big mess. Tons of our bottles clutter our parks and streets and gutters. Eventually they flow into our rivers and oceans, where they kill wildlife. Megatons more go directly to the landfill. Only about a third are recycled. But whoa, Annie Leonard, in her video, The Story of Bottled Water, showed us that even those recycled bottles turn up in China and India, where we ship them to get them out of our hair. There, mountains of plastic bottles, a fraction of which are recycled into new plastic kitsch, clutter the landscape, unusable.
What Leonard didn't mention is how much H2O it takes to make that bottle of water we guzzle and pitch. That's where Pasadena and the Rose bowl come in. Here's the quick and dirty.
According to Brian Merchant on TreeHugger last year, manufacturers use almost 2 gallons (1.85 to be exact) to make a single plastic water bottle. That doesn't count the 16 ounces of water we actually drink. Considering that every second of every day, 1,000 people open a bottle of water in the United States, that comes to 1850 gallons a second, or 159,840,000 gallons every 24 hours. That's enough to supply the thirsty City of Pasadena five times and almost enough to fill up the Rose Bowl. (You'll need to scroll down quite a ways to find their blurbs on that link, but they're there.)
Every second of every day in the United States, a thousand people buy and open up a plastic bottle of commercially produced water, and every second of every day in the United States, a thousand plastic bottles are thrown away. Eighty-five million bottles a day. More than thirty billion bottles a year at a cost to consumers of tens of billions of dollars.
Peter Gleick in Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water (2010)
as quoted by Annie Leonard in
The Story of Bottled Water, fn #6 (pdf)
That's one more reason to carry our own refillable water bottle everywhere we go. Have you switched yet? It's the Ordinary thing to do.
We make peace in a million small ways every day.
All text and images, unless otherwise noted, copyright L. Kathryn Grace. All rights reserved.