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Hard to swallow: Bottled water is terrible for the environment and contributing to the profusion of microplastics
Water April 29, 2022

Global bottled water consumption is estimated to have surpassed 100 billion gallons for the first time in 2018. For people who have ​​access to clean, safe drinking water, it can be virtually free. In the US, tap water costs less than a penny per gallon on average, with bottled water costing about 3,000% more per gallon than tap. Even so, the consumption of bottled water continues to grow, outpacing sales of milk and beer in the US, and second only to soft drinks.

It’s estimated that over 1 million plastic bottled products are sold around the world every minute and Americans use approximately 1,500 plastic bottles of water every second. 

According to Harvard University’s Office for Sustainability, “The entire life cycle of bottled water uses fossil fuels, contributes to global warming, and causes pollution.” Remarkably, it takes more than 17 million barrels of oil to produce enough plastic water bottles to meet America’s annual demand for bottled water and 86 percent of those plastic bottles become garbage or litter. 

Moreover, recent studies show that bottled water contains excessive levels of microplastics. And when those plastic bottles disintegrate, microplastics are released into the environment, contributing to the pollution crisis, and have even been found in the human body.

The best way to cut down on plastic waste is to stop making it in the first place, given that recycling rates are declining and recycling, in general, is not a sustainable solution for the amount of plastics being produced.

In the meantime, scientific advancements can help. Researchers from The University of Texas at Austin have developed a variant of an enzyme that can chew up and break down plastics in just a few hours.

So what does this all mean for those of us who have access to clean drinking water and simply want to stay hydrated? Think before you drink –– and invest in a water filter and reusable bottle!

Learn more @ The Guardian

 

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