Americans Purchase about 50 Billion Water Bottles per Year
In average, it’s about 13 bottles per month for every person in the U.S. That means by using a reusable water bottle, you could save an average of 156 plastic bottles annually.
In the US, 80% of these bottles end up in landfills, in the ocean or are incinerated. The rest is collected for recycling but is it really recycled or is it just shipped somewhere else?
Bottled water generates an enormous amount of plastic waste, but that’s not it. The issue with bottled water is actually much broader than plastic waste:
- Bottled water can come from the other side of the world: Fiji bottles come from the Fiji islands (5436 miles from San Francisco), Evian bottles come from France (5816 miles from San Francisco).... that’s a lot of greenhouse gas emissions to transport something that’s available locally, especially in the Bay Area where tap water comes from Yosemite National Park.
- Manufacturing 50 billion plastic water bottles requires as much oil as fueling one million cars for a year.
- Plastic microfibers have been found in over 90% of the world’s most popular bottled water brands, by a study in the US. The results are twice as high as those of a previous study on tap water.
- Bottled water cost about 2000 times more than tap water.
These are all excellent reasons why we should all say no to plastic water bottles and yes to tap water available everywhere!
The Solution: Refill your Water Bottle!
1/ Choose your bottle
(photo credit: Refill Initiative / Jon Craig)
You probably already have a water bottle at home but maybe you don’t use it everyday. Now is the time to take this new habit!
Stainless steel and glass water bottles are the best choice: plastic leaches chemicals into the water and is slowly degraded when you wash your bottle in the dishwasher.
There are many brands of glass or stainless steel bottles, my favorite so far being Klean Kanteen because they have one model that’s fully in stainless steel, with bamboo on the lid, a small silicone ring, no paint, ink, coatings or plastic (I’m not affiliated with this brand, I’m just very happy about my water bottle!).
You can refill your bottle at home of course. If you’re unhappy with your tap water taste, you can add a water filter under your sink. They are very efficient and they have to be changed only once a year in average. Unfortunately they are often made of plastic so you have to contact the brand to see if they recycle their filters.
A plastic-free solution I’ve heard about but never tried: charcoal sticks. Apparently they adsorb impurities immediately while also imparting healthy minerals like calcium and magnesium.
What about when you’re outside? There are more and more places with water fountains: I’ve spotted many in the Bay Area, at the YMCA, Whole Foods, San Francisco airport.... San Francisco is actually replacing its old drinking fountains with new tap water refilling stations. Isn’t it cool?! You can also just ask in a cafe, I’m sure most of them will be happy to refill your bottle for free!
Now I wish this project from UK will be soon available in the US : REFILL is a national, practical tap water campaign that aims to make refilling water bottles as easy, convenient and cheap as possible by introducing refill stations on every street!
Maps are available through an app. They now include 1600 refill stations provided by friendly cafes, shops, hotels and businesses who welcome anyone who needs to refill a water bottle – for free!