As the use of bottled water continue to rise steadily around the world, many critics have focused on its impacts on the environment, economy and other social implications related to the use, including waste management issues, depletion of groundwater, energy consumption and many more. In the US, for instance, in the previous year, Americans bought more than 4 billion gallons of water in individual-portion bottles. Similar rising rates of consumption had been noted in the UK in the past years. It was noted that between 2000 and 2006, the rate of consumption rose from 1415 to 2275 million liters, which reflected over £1 billion spent on bottled water (Ward, et al., 2009).
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Ward et al. (2009) have stressed that some consumers have completely used bottled water to replace tap water. These consumers are driven by two factors, including dissatisfaction with tap water because of taste and health risks while manufacturers continue to influence their behaviors (Doria, 2006, p. 271). A key concern is environmental impact of bottled water. The purpose of this research is to demonstrate that bottled water is harmful to the environment and, therefore, should be replaced with the alternative tap water.
Research has in fact showed that many consumers might not be aware of negative impacts on the environment when they consume bottled water (Bolderdijk, Gorsira, Keizer, & Steg, 2013, p. e83911). In addition, individuals are most likely to support pro-environmental behaviors when they understand implications of their behaviors toward the environment and when they believe that individual initiatives could have significant impacts on such detrimental outcomes on the environment. Thus, it is necessary for consumers to comprehend these negative impacts of bottled water on the environment.
As previously noted, the use of bottled water has increased, and it is now even popular in third world countries. Much water used in manufacturing of bottled water is obtained from natural sources and municipal water sources. Consumers may assert that bottled water is for convenience and tastes better than tap water. Moreover, manufacturers have promoted bottled water as the ‘purest’ form of water available and a suitable replacement for other drinks rich in sugar.
However, these arguments for consumption of bottled water could be farfetched. No clear evidence shows that bottled water is the healthy, pure alternative to tap water. On the contrary, it is noted that bottled water costs 10,000 times more than the tap water, and this cost affects the consumer and the environment directly. Clean Up Australia Ltd, an environmental conservation organization, for instance, has noted that bottled water is no cleaner compared to tap water despite the high cost and perhaps does not worth it (Clean Up Australia Ltd, 2015, p. 1).
Of interest to this research are the environmental impacts of bottled water. As stated above, bottled water is manufactured from spring water and other sources. In these processes, aquifer flow is disrupted. At the same time, the consequences are noted in flora and fauna. In addition, the depletion of groundwater resources may be unavoidable.
The production of bottled water requires energy. In most cases, the notable package for bottled water is plastic bottle referred to as PET (polyethylene terephthalate). PET is mainly obtained from crude oil – a process that requires energy (Gleick & Cooley, 2009, p. 2). In addition to manufacturing of plastic bottles, Gleick and Cooley (2009) have noted that treatment at bottling plant; filling, labeling, and sealing bottle; transportation and cooling all account for energy requirement in the production of bottled water.
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Further, recycling of used bottles also require the use of energy. Overall, the aggregate energy required in the production of bottled water is complicated because of several factors involved, including location, means of transportation, consumer location, type of water resources, and packaging among others. while energy is consumed in this processes, the burning of fossil fuels to generate the energy leads to the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and, thus, contributing to global warming. Hence, the nexus between bottled water production and energy use is not environmentally sound.
Managing plastic bottle is difficult. Consequently, they may be part of the landfill waste materials while other plastic bottles have found their way into large water bodies and create large litter streams. These plastic bottles are responsible for environmental degradation in the sea and deaths of marine life.
Having demonstrated the negative impacts of bottled water on the environment and costs to the consumer, the best option therefore is to avoid bottled water and use the alternative tap water. Taps water is required to meet global standards to ensure safety of consumers, as well as offer affordable and sustainable alternative (Darby, 2000, p. 69). Consumers are also encouraged to install tap filters to enhance taste and quality of the water. In addition, they can also use reusable water bottles. Overall, informational strategies may be effective in enhancing knowledge about negative impacts of bottled water on the environment and individuals must take personal responsibility and realize that protecting the environment is a relevant personal value.
Bolderdijk, J. W., Gorsira, M., Keizer, K., & Steg, L. (2013). Values Determine the (In)Effectiveness of Informational Interventions in Promoting Pro-Environmental Behavior. PLoS ONE 8(12), e83911. Web.
Clean Up Australia Ltd. (2015). Bottled Water. Web.
Darby, J. L. (2000). Providing reliable supply of safe drinking water poses challenges. California Agriculture 54(5), 69-77. Web.
Doria, M. F. (2006). Bottled water versus tap water: understandingconsumers’ preferences. Journal of Water and Health 4(2), 271-276. Web.
Gleick, P. H., & Cooley, H. S. (2009). Energy implications of bottled water. Environmental Research Letters 4(1), 1-7. Web.
Ward, L. A., Cain, O. L., Mullally, R. A., Holliday, K. S., Wernham, A. G., Baillie, P. D., & Greenfield, Sheila M. (2009). Health beliefs about bottled water: a qualitative study. BMC Public Health 9, 196. Web.