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Bottled Water - Think Before You Drink

Essay by   •  April 6, 2011  •  Essay  •  1,211 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,852 Views

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Americans today are ten times more likely to drink bottled water than a generation ago. Between 1976 and 1998, three billion gallons of bottled water were consumed in America. (Greve) The dramatic increase in the consumption of bottled water is not clearly understood. The convenience factor of carrying portable water, while walking or jogging, is one answer to the question of why bottled water has become so popular. Another probable answer to the question of why the consumption of bottled water has risen could be the general health concerns of people. Consumers appear to be switching from drinking sugary sodas and juices to drinking bottled water; health-conscious decisions, it seems. (Gashler) Another reason why many people are drinking more bottled water is taste. In some areas, tap water is not drinkable, therefore, bottled water is a necessity. Others just prefer the taste of bottled water over tap water. Marian Brown, an assistant at Ithaca College, has conducted a series of taste tests at the college. In five blind taste tests, tap water won over bottled water four times; proving her theory that tap water tastes at least as good as bottled water. (Gashler) Unfortunately, the increased sales and public consumption of bottled water are creating devastating effects on the environment.

The majority of plastic water bottles are not recycled and usually end up in landfills across the country. Some estimates show that only twenty-five percent of plastic water bottles are recycled; the remainder mostly end up in trash cans. (Savage) Plastic is not biodegradable. All plastic ever produced is still in existence and will stay on earth for hundreds of years. The large amount of waste created by consumers discarding plastic bottles in the trash adds to the growing issues concerning the over-burdened landfills that are closing at an alarming rate. Landfills across America are rapidly filling up and the demand for new landfills is very high. Landfills are relied on heavily, even though it has been proven they tend to contaminate underground water supplies. Many landfills are on the U.S. Superfund cleanup list, however, the U.S. still disposes nearly seventy-five percent of its waste into these dumps. (Young, USA Today) More efforts to recycle plastic bottles are needed to reduce the vast amount of waste produced. More importantly, more efforts need to be made to reduce or prevent the production and consumption of bottled water in the first place.

If consumers would limit the amount of plastic bottles used and subsequently discarded, the threat to the oceans' sea life would be reduced. Bottles drift from landfills and eventually wash out to sea; the same is true of the bottles that litter streams and rivers. A huge area of plastic debris, twice the size of the state of Texas, has been found in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. (Knopper) As plastic bottles break down, they disintegrate into small bits which birds and fish commonly mistake for food. Shorebirds and fish have been found dead on beaches with the plastic bits in their stomachs. To save the birds and fish; to ultimately prevent their untimely deaths, people must not throw plastic bottles into the garbage, or worse, litter.

The process of making bottled water requires the use of valuable resources; most notably, crude oil. To produce the plastic bottles, various by-products derived from crude oil, are chemically processed. It takes over one million barrels of oil to produce the plastic used to make the bottled water Americans consume in one year. Transporting bottled water also uses precious oil. The energy used to transport the bottled water depends on how far it is shipped

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