Time to Back the Tap!

For Bottled Water Free Day, we came up with a list of 10 reasons why bottled water is a bad choice and shared them on Facebook and Twitter… But that can be a bit hard to read, so we decided to gather them all in one place here! This isn’t a top 10 list per se – no reason is really that much more significant than any other, but together they add up to a lot of motivation to Back the Tap!

By the way: If you’re looking for citations to back these points up, check out the resources on www.backthetap.ca – they’re well researched and broken down by different issues… Thanks to a lot of hard work from the Polaris Institute – Institut Polaris

1. Bottled water is bad for our green future. Transportation isn’t the only way it uses fossil fuels. Plenty of oil goes into producing those bottles… When you add it all up, it takes 3.4 megajoules of energy to make each 1L bottle, cap, and packaging… And around 3 million barrels of oil each year for all the bottled water consumed in Canada.

2. Bottled water is bad for the climate… After all, it takes a lot of CO2 to transport those bottles from the plant, to the store, to your door… And since some of those bottles come from halfway around the world, whereas tap water travels on average less than 10km, bottled water contributes a heck of a lot more to global climate change.

3. Bottled water is a huge waste… Litter-ally (teehee)! Only about 48% of plastic beverage containers in Canada are recycled, with the rest either going to landfill or ending up in places like the Pacific Garbage Patch… By the way, that works out to around 150,000 tonnes of plastic per year. Yuck.

4. It’s out of line… with the prices of other “commodities”. Even without having to pay fees and royalties (see point #6), the price of a bottle of water is higher than a litre of gas.

Although we think that thinking of water as a commodity in the first place is a bad idea, it’s an interesting point! Oh, and we recognize that the price of gas doesn’t account for externalities (like Climate Change, air quality etc). but neither does bottled water.

5. Bottled water is bad for the planet… It actually takes 3-5L of freshwater to produce a 1L bottle of water – which means it’s depleting our limited resources of freshwater. While freshwater supplies in Canada may SEEM pretty nearly unlimited, major watersheds like the Great Lakes are already under pressure from Climate Change, and Canada is far from the only place your bottled water may be coming from…

6. Bottled water privatizes a public resource. While other industries that profit off of our natural resources (minerals, forests, oil, etc.) all pay fees/royalties to access them, water rights are typically doled out with little or no strings attached. That means the water they’re using goes from a public resource to a private good with no corresponding compensation for Canadian citizens.

7. Who wants to be a victim of false and/or misleading advertising? Bottled water tries to play on your fears and claims it’s the “freshest, cleanest water”… Implying tap water isn’t. But bottled water often loses blind taste tests to tap, and is often just tap or well water in plastic… So those claims are pretty dubious.

8. We don’t really know what in bottled water… Because it’s qualified as a food product, water bottling plants are typically only inspected every 3-5 years by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Tap water is regulated provincially/locally and is tested and inspected multiple times a day. Results of those tests are also shared publicly, whereas there is no similar requirement for bottled water. While some companies may report on testing they do, there is no universal standard for what to test and how often, and there is nothing to guarantee they’re not just cherry picking results, as their testing is essentially done for marketing purposes.

9. Bottled water hurts watersheds: water from the tap is typically taken from and returned to the same watershed, but most bottled water travels between watersheds – sometimes as far as halfway around the world… That means local water resources can be reduced or even depleted by commercial water bottling facilities.

10. Bottled water hurts your pocket book: the cost of a bottle of water from a vending machine is usually about $2… The cost of a litre of water from the tap is less than a penny.

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