Over the last few decades the use of bottled drinks has gained in popularity across Australia. We now buy over 118,000 tonnes of plastic drink bottles each year. The problem with this trend is that plastic bottles generate an unnecessary amount of waste that is inevitably ending up in landfill or worse, our Oceans.
Although government legislation is encouraging us to recycle more often, 30% of all refuse that was collected during Clean Up Australia Day 2014 was still plastic; so it’s clear that more can be done. This plastic problem is having an effect on our environment, our health and also causes Australians to spend millions of dollars a year on something that, in many instances is not needed.
Environmental impact of bottled water
The journey taken by plastic bottles, from production to shelf, causes significant environmental impact. During manufacture over 400,000 barrels of oil are consumed every year to produce the amount of plastic bottles used by Australians. It may also come as a surprise to know that for every 1 litre of bottled water made it actually wastes 3 litres of water during production.
Transportation of these items across the world also burns fossil fuel in countless ‘energy miles’ adding more CO2 into our atmosphere. This is why bottled water production creates 600 times more CO2 than the water that comes out of your tap. Once the bottle leaves the shelf however, the biggest environmental impact begins. Out of all the plastic bottles we use, only 30% are reused with most ending up in landfill or even worse our Oceans, where they may stay for many years until they photodegrade (which means they break down into tiny particles, but never fully disappear, polluting our waterways and killing marine life).
Plastic bottles cause serious damage to our oceans and the wildlife that they sustain. 10% of all plastic produced in Australia ends up in our Oceans, which is a staggering 30m tonnes a year. In Sydney alone 90% of all debris found on beaches is made up of plastic waste – do we really want to see our much loved Bondi Beach ruined by products we don’t really need?
Already plastic in our oceans are causing 100,000 marine mammals death yearly across the globe. New research has shown that this problem is even causing the coral found at the Great Barrier Reef to slowly starve. Australia’s oceans contain some of the richest and diverse animal life on our planet and these are in danger due to plastic pollution.
A really frightening statistic is that if we continue to pollute our Oceans at this rate then the total amount of plastics we find in our seas will even outweigh the levels of fish within the next few decades.
Health effects of bottle water
There are also many health implications associated with plastic bottle use that people may not even be aware of. Many plastic bottles contain Bisphenol A, which is an oestrogen-mimicking chemical and has been linked to aplethora of health problems; such as learning and behaviour issues and in some extreme cases prostate and breast cancer. If you use the same bottle over time there is also a high risk of your water is being contaminated by bacteria.
The financial cost of bottled water
If the environmental and health implications of plastic bottles doesn’t concern you, then maybe the staggering cost of bottled water might. When you purchase a bottle from a convenience store 90% of the cost can be attributed to everything but the water. The lid, label and the plastic itself makes up the majority of what you’re forking out for. In fact, Australia tap water costs around 1 cent per litre, compared to $2.53 per litre if your water comes from a bottle that you’ve purchased.
It seems foolish to pay such an extortionate price for something that comes directly from your tap. There is of course the understandable argument that many people are not confident with the quality or taste of the water coming from their faucet. If you fall into this camp, a better solution would be to use a filtered system that will ensure that your tap water is pure and tastes great whilst avoiding the unnecessary cost of drinking bottled water.
What you can do to help
Avoiding bottle water is easier than you may think. As already mentioned there are some great filtered tap solutionsthat can give your tap water all the quality and taste benefits you’ll get with bottled water, without all the environmental and health problems. You can reduce your personal plastic use by purchasing a reusable glass or aluminium bottle and always recycle any plastic bottles you do end up with. If you live in South Australia or in the Northern Territory you can even receive cash refunds on recycling plastic products through container deposit schemes.
If you want to be more proactive why not invest your own time into campaigns such as Clean Up Australia Day orTake 3 for the Sea, and work together with others to make a real difference. For those who want to go even further you can even get in touch with your local council and request the possible implementation of the same legislation that has been adopted by Bundanoon, Australia’s first bottle free town. Bundanoon has banned the sale of bottled water, installing fantastic bubblers and bottle fill stations around the town and their schools to remove the need for bottles.
As you can see much is and can be done to reduce the plastic problem that is impacting our environment, our health and our back pocket. If you’re proactivly reducing plastic in your life we’d love to hear about it. Share you tips in the comment section to inspire others to help reduce Australia’s plastic pollution.
Waterlogic provides sophisticated water filtration and UV purification systems for the home and office, removing the need for bottled water. Basically, they live for quality H2O just like the Waterboy! Check them out if you’re interested in a system for your home or office. www.waterlogicaustralia.com.au