Why Plastic Water Bottles Are WORSE Than You Think
Here is something you probably already know: from a sustainable perspective, plastic water bottles are terrible for the environment. Even beyond the issue with burgeoning landfills (more than 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills and incinerators every day) and fish swimming in tons (literally!) of plastic bottles, it takes three times MORE water to produce a plastic water bottle than it takes to fill the bottle!
Let that soak in. You could have 4 glasses of water to drink, but you only get one because it took 3 glasses of water to make the bottle! That statistic is NOT ok! But it’s not the worst reason plastic water bottles are terrible.
The Beverage Marketing Corporation estimated that about 65% of all bottled water sales came from single-serve plastic bottles in 2012. Even if you just spent $1 on a 16.9-ounce bottle of water (let’s face it, we are usually paying more), you’re effectively paying $7.57 per gallon – 3,785 times more than you’d pay for the same amount of water from a faucet.
Around the world, humans spend more than $100 billion on bottled water every year.
So, plastic water bottles are terrible for your wallet, but that is still not the worst thing.
In some places where water quality is dangerous, buying bottled water is absolutely necessary. But we would still advocate for a very good water filter first, and not buying bottled water. Why? Not only is it cheaper in the long run, but bottled water is often taken straight from municipal taps. You’re literally paying for something you could be getting for free, and the quality is no better!
Americans drank more bottled water than even soft drink for the first time EVER in 2016. Analysts think it is a mix of wanting to be healthier (Yes!), convenience, and an awareness of cleaner/safer water….and that’s where it gets infuriating.
Comprehensive testing by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) showed that the bottle water people were spending their hard-earned money on still had a surprising array of chemical contaminants in every bottled water brand analyzed. And according to the NDRC, "tap water in most big cities must be disinfected, filtered to remove pathogens, and tested for cryptosporidium and giardia viruses. Bottled water does not have to be."
You aren’t getting better quality water from most plastic water bottle brands.
But plastic water bottles are even worse than you think because the plastic bottle itself is terrible for your health.
Plastics are petroleum-based products and manufacturers use chemicals to make plastic serve different functions. Two chemicals (of many) that have been proved harmful for human health are phalates and BPA. That matters because both are found in products women interact with multiple times a day!
Phalates (pronounced f-THAL-lates) are used to make soft plastics. Bisphenol A (BPA) is used to make rigid plastics including reusable water bottles and lines more canned foods unless the can specifically says BPA-free can.
Studies prove that BPA and phalates can leach from the plastic containers or cans into the food and liquids they hold, meaning when you drink from a reusable plastic bottle, you are ingesting those chemicals into your body with the water. (Heads up: cheap plastic food containers are also bad for you. True story, we used to buy lunch meat in the plastic containers with the red tops, eat the preservative-filled, hormone-packed lunch meat (bleeech), and then reuse those containers over and over and over again, even warming them up in the microwave! Talk about a double whammy for our poor hormones!)
Heat releases the chemicals into whatever food is in the container faster. Stop using the microwave whenever you can, but if you do, only warm up food in glass. Being cheap won’t pay off. Throw plastic containers and cups out or find other uses for them that don’t involve touching or handling them.
When the CDC measured for phalates, it found that phthalate exposure was widespread in ALMOST 100% of the U.S. population, but adult women had higher levels than men because phthalates are also used in soaps, body washes, shampoos, cosmetics, and similar personal care products (more on that in another blog soon!).
Phalates and BPA are endocrine disrupters, chemicals that mess up your body’s endocrine (or hormone) systems causing cancerous tumors, birth defects, developmental disorders, dysfunction of our bodies’ sex organs (male and female), and more.
Women in childbearing years should be extra careful as well because science shows phthalates and bisphenol A seem to have the greatest impact in the womb, creating fetal defects and damage that is irreversible, unlike the damage done to adults. If you are struggling with infertility or hormonal issues, researching all the plastic chemicals in your life can be a huge step to freedom. Start by avoiding plastic water bottles whenever possible and not storing or eating any food from plastic containers.
Yes, plastic water bottles are the most convenient. We also know that drinking fountains and tap water may seem like dirtier options, but studies show that is not true. It is better to avoid plastic altogether for your health. Obviously, life happens, and you can find yourself in a situation where all you’ll have access to is bottled water. In that case stress can be more damaging then just drinking the water! That said, in every situation that is in your control, we highly advocate that you avoid plastic water bottles.
Yes, this only scratches the surface of all the ways plastic impacts your health and the steps you can and should take to avoid them. But just starting by eliminating plastic water bottles and using reusable water bottles is a positive beginning!
You also want to ditch any plastic reusable water bottles and instead only use reusable water bottles made from food-grade quality aluminum or glass. Also, look for some testing from the manufacturer about the quality of the materials used.
We like these three water bottles that are made from safe materials and also give back:
BRANDS TO CONSIDER
- Stainless steel and 100% plastic free!
- You can buy 5 different silicone lids to make the bottle serve different purposes: bottle, toddler sippy cup, sports bottle, etc. How incredibly cool and sustainable is that?
- Six sizes from 5 oz. to 28 oz!
- The stainless steel is comprised of 60% recycled material* and is fully recyclable.
- Lifetime warranty.
- NonToxic Certified by independent non-profit MADESAFE.ORG. This certification process tests for 80,000+ known chemicals.
- Stainless steel.
- Founder Sarah Kauss launched S’well with a mission to rid the world of plastic bottles and give back. S'well® supports the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, donating $200,000 since 2015 to help provide clean water to the world’s most vulnerable children.
- Cool designs that keep drinks cold for 24 hours and hot for 12, while also giving back to those in need. Most designs come in 17 oz, which is still a slim design that slips into almost any purse, but there is a 9 oz. version too!
- We LOVE how many colors and styles there are!
- Glass water bottle.
- We each take 40-60 sips of water a day. Love Bottle makes each of these sips an opportunity to reconnect with what really matters to you. They print inspirational designs on their USA made glass water bottles, donate to charities that need help, and are dedicated to healthy living.
- 100% Made in the USA
- 5% back to Global Water to help create clean water systems in third world locations
- At the bottom of every bottle is a daily reminder that you are loved! (And you can even make custom bottles.)
We all have daily exposures to chemicals from plastics and other sources. This is one, simple BIG first step you can take to reduce your toxic load. Avoiding plastic water bottles and switching to a non-toxic reusable water bottle is just one way you can lower the toxic load on your body, improve your health, all while helping your wallet and the planet!
Read More: Avoiding plastic bags is a second great step. Check our tips for becoming a reusable bag pro.
Note: You’re seeing more BPA-free / phalate labeling going on because consumer forced manufacturers to look for alternate chemicals to make their plastic products. While seeing BPA- and phtalate-free on a product is good, it does not mean it is “non-toxic.” Purchase with caution because most manufacturers are not making sure the new chemicals they are choosing are any healthier than BPA and phalates. One of the chemicals being used, bisphenol-S (BPS), is now proven to be more toxic than BPA. That’s just another reason why it is just better to avoid plastic altogether and choose healthier alternatives glass, aluminum,, etc.