The True Cost of Bottled Water

It is possible to get your hands on a bottle of water for under a dollar. Bigger bulk purchases mean bigger bargains. But bottled water still costs more than tap water. In fact in the UK each gallon of bottled water costs more than petrol. If you’re looking for something special Kona Nigari, sold by 2oz bottles, is the luxury brand on the market for a hefty $536 per liter of Hawaiian deep seawater.

In production the economic expenses come from the bottle, for Joe Bloggs that will be a PET plastic number but a Celeb may go for a Swarovski encrusted ‘Bling H2O’ ($40). Luckily PET is a recyclable material. The only problem is it won’t recycle itself. We need responsible people and the correct facilities and factories to prevent non-biodegradable products from filling up landfill sites.

Once the water is sourced and bottled we have to factor in the cost of getting the bottles to their destination in supermarkets and other retailers for the customer to purchase.

Transporting anything always spells trouble. Pollution from the delivery vehicles means there are more environmental costs of buying bottled water. Depending on how frequently you buy and replace your bottles of water carbon emissions may sneak into the equation in the recycling of the bottle. Am I saying that recycling plastic bottles is adding to the greenhouse effect? Well if we look at the bigger picture who is the greener individual, the person with the lighter carbon footprint: Amy who buys 3 bottles of water every week and recycles them, or Ben who bought one durable bottle and reuses that? Remember always reduce the waste first, reuse next and recycle last.

But what are the benefits. Bottled water can be very handy. Take the scenario of a hot summers day, you’re out and about in the city, is there anything like an ice cold bottle of water straight from the fridge? Worth every cent to quench that thirst and cool you down, no? You can always reuse the bottle at some point. (If you don’t decide you’re fed up of carrying around the 70 cent bottle). ‘Fridge’ was given a crucial mention there, another appliance that drains energy. Though at this point it’s also worth commending environmentally friendly product design for the energy savings on new models and the prevention of any further ozone layer depletion by the removal of CFCs and.

As for water quality, bottles won’t have traces of metal because the water doesn’t pass through pipes, but then again a lot of the bottled water also won’t have fluoride, an agent added to tap water that helps fight tooth decay. By the time it reaches you it is not fresh. Some people conspire that bottled water is tap water.

Symbolically it is great to pay for water every time you want to use it because water is not a free resource and we have to be aware not to treat it as one. Though water is largely renewable we are using up the resource faster than it can renew itself. Dwindling freshwater supplies are supporting the validity of a ‘peak water’ concept which states that we will, in the not too distant future, run out of potable water. -E. MESKHI

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