Is Bottled Water ever Eco-Friendly?

[Quick answer: No!]

You’ve probably heard that bottled water isn’t the most eco-friendly option out there.  A quick primer: water is a product you can already get for free or cheap at the tap.  But bottled water is different.  It has to travel some distance in a fuel-burning truck, and the bottle usually isn’t recycled, ending up in a landfill or littered on a roadside or creekbed.  In fact, Americans use more than 85 million bottles of water every day!  For a fun, quick overview, see the video “The Story of Bottled Water.”

But increasingly, bottled water brands are telling us they’re actually a green choice. Maybe you’ve seen bottles touting that they’re made with less plastic, “natural” plasticcarbon offsets, or – the sneakiest– some of their profits go to benefit a worthy cause?

Unfortunately, we can’t always trust those marketers to tell us what’s “eco-friendly.”  The bottom line?  It’s not the method of bottling water, it’s the very act that is a waste of energy, a waste of materials, and a cause of pollution.  No natural bottle will change that.  Any time you buy a bottle, you’re creating extra waste.

photo by basetrack // flickr CC

photo by basetrack // flickr CC

So whenever you can, go to the tap! It’s pretty easy to bring your own bottle, or mug, or glass.  And it saves you a lot of money over time – one bottle a day for a family of four could easily pay your cable bill.

If you really want that happy, shiny feeling you get from supporting the poor and the environment, we suggest you go straight for it:  Take that $1.25, drop it in a jar, and give it to a trusted organization.  And then fill up a glass at your faucet, and drink up!

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