Plastic particles found in bottled water

You may have seen a report the last few weeks in multiple news publications that a recent study of 11 brands of bottled water has revealed that 93 percent of them contain microplastic contamination. The researchers from State University of New York and non-profit journalism organization Orb Media found an average of 10.4 plastic particles per liter of water. Included in the study were common brands such as Aquafina, Dasani, Nestle Pure Life, as well as San Pellegrino.

My hope is that you’ll take the information you read here and tell your family and friends about it. I know you know someone (most likely lots of people) who habitually drink bottled water.

Microplastics have become very pervasive in our environment, being found in the ocean, lakes, rivers, fish and birds. They are now entering our bodies through bottled water. In addition to plastic particles, bottled water is also filled with chemicals and contaminants; German researchers found nearly 25,000 chemicals in one single bottle of water. They tested 18 samples that are sold worldwide; the chemicals they found in the water are the ones used to manufacture plastic resin (plastic bottles) and are known endocrine disruptors. 

Effects of these chemicals include stunted growth, early puberty, premature birth, infertility and early menopause. Additionally, many toxins are found in bottled water as well, including phthalates, mold, microbes, benzenes and trihalomethanes. Researchers at the Environmental Working Group found that one bottled water brand spurred a 78 percent increase in growth of breast cancer cells.

Despite plastic particles and other toxic contaminants found in bottled water, the United States consumes 1,500 bottles of water per second. Furthermore, in the U.S., 99.9 percent of us are living with clean, safe tap water. Bottled water is also extremely expensive, costing between $0.89/gallon to $8.26/gallon. Tap water costs pennies. If you drink the recommended eight glasses of water a day, it will cost you around $0.50 (yes, fifty cents!) a year to do that out of your tap. Drinking the same amount of bottled water will cost you about $1,400 a year.

Bottled water is extremely environmentally un-friendly. Manufacturing plastic bottles uses more than 17 million barrels of oil and produces 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide annually. Further, the average American uses 167 bottles of water annually. This adds up to 50 billion plastic water bottles being used annually in the United States. The amount of plastic water bottles purchased weekly can circle the globe five times.

When plastic is "recycled," is not actually recycled, it’s "downcycled," which means it is made into something less than it was, and will eventually end up in our landfills. Only 23 percent of plastic water bottles get recycled. Plastic water bottles are one of the top three types of litter found on our beaches, shores and waterways. Each year, over 500 billion bottles end up in waterways worldwide.

What can you do? Commit to drinking water from your tap. If you prefer, invest in a water filter. You can purchase a pitcher, like a glass Soma pitcher or Brita. Also available are filters that can be installed on your faucet or under your sink. Any of these options will save you a lot of money in the long run rather than purchasing bottles of water. 

Furthermore, invest in a good, refillable water bottle. The safest, most eco-friendly types are made of glass or stainless steel. My favorite is the glass Lifefactory bottle; I love feeling as though I’m drinking out of a glass of water wherever I am. These bottles have a protective covering, however they can still break if dropped on cement or another very hard surface. If you are too nervous about that or want to invest in a refillable bottle for your children, stainless steel is great alternative. Some of my favorite brands are Hydro Flask, S’well, Yeti, and Klean Kanteen. Some of these are insulated, meaning they will keep your water cold for hours, even if left in a hot car.

I hope that at some point it will be socially taboo to drink from plastic disposable water bottles. In my opinion, they are such an easy thing to stop using. There was a time, not long ago, when bottled water barely existed. The only kind available was Evian and that seemed fancy to drink. Back then, if we were thirsty we drank from drinking fountains or the tap.

Please consider talking to your friends and family about the reasons that bottled water is harmful to their health, their checking account, and the Earth!

Read More on The Green Report
Volume 10, Issue 6, Posted 10:14 AM, 03.20.2018