Impact Water

Here's How to Be an Ethical Bottled Water Drinker

Hint: don’t drink bottled water.

by Aaron Barksdale
May 5 2017, 7:50pm

Photo via Unsplash

Bottled water is the worst, and unfortunately it doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. It's incredibly wasteful, it pollutes our oceans, and transporting it increases our carbon footprint.

The best thing you can do is plan in advance to always carry a reusable bottle with you. Disposable bottles should only be used in actual emergency situations— like the Flint water crisis. But if you absolutely, 100 percent need to hydrate, here are a few ways to quench your thirst without being a dick to the planet.

1. Box Yourself In

Boxed water is so much better, right? Well, it's kind of more complicated than that. Boxes are more efficient for shipping given the size, shape, and makeup of material, which means a smaller impact on the environment. Most boxed packages made of about 75 percent paper, which is great because it's recyclable and biodegradable. The leftover contents are from polyethylene plastic and aluminum, which aren't so great.

Petro-plastics aren't renewable and when boxed containers get dumped in recycling bins, waste management plants don't always have the capacity to sort the paper from the plastic. In that case, plastic bottles numbered "1" or "2" are better because they're easier for plants to recycle. Final remarks: it's better to drink from the tap.

2. Pain in the Glass

If you're stranded in the middle of nowhere, parched with nothing but bottled water to choose from, then maybe consider drinking glass bottled water. It's not the best choice, but it's a choice. Glass bottles are heavier and bulkier, which means more effort to transport them and more carbon emissions.

But glass bottles can be reused without the same effects of plastic-based chemicals seeping into your water or causing bacteria growth. Also, glass bottles are easy to recycle but they save less energy than recycling other products like paper or aluminum.

3. Lightning in a Bottle

Hypothetical situation: it's a summer scorcher, you're really hot, there aren't any water fountains around, so you had to buy a plastic water bottle. Shudder. At least recycle the bottle once you're done. According to Fast Company, the recycling rate for bottled water in America is only 23 percent, which equates to 38 billion water bottles that are just trashed every year.

In 2009, "eco-friendly bottles" that use plant-based materials were touted as a good option for ethical bottled water drinkers, but that's not really the case. These bottles can't be composted since they're not 100 percent plant-based and can't be recycled because recycling sites prefer undiluted plastic products that they can resell.

When you really break it down, buying disposable water in any form, boxed, plastic, or glass, is just a bad idea. If you think about it, bottled water is just an expensive convenience, in reality, quality water should be available everywhere from a fountain to a faucet. This is why water conservation matters.

So don't be a jerk. Stop drinking bottled water.