Bottled Water is Gross!

The Environmentalist from Hell takes aim at bottled water and the garbage people who drink it.

Sara Bynoe
Aug 8 · 6 min read

I hate bottled water. I hate anyone who defaults to drinking bottled water. If you live in a community with clean drinking water, but opt to purchase bottled water instead, I think your choice is wasteful, shameful, and tells me that you are a garbage person.

I wrote about my hatred of disposable coffee cups last year, sparked by an incident where I called a friend an a-hole for using a paper “to-go” cup inside a coffee shop. Fearing my wrath, many people I know changed their behaviour after reading that article. So I’m here to change you once again. Stop buying bottled water, a-holes!

According to Statistics Canada, 19% of Canadian households primarily drink bottled water. That means I’m disappointed in 1/5 of my neighbours. What the hell, people?!

Of course, there are places on Earth where the tap water isn’t drinkable, not all of them in far-off lands. Flint, MI, has a broken water system that frequently makes the news. Many Indigenous communities and reserves in Canada and the US live under long-term boil-water advisories, which is disgraceful.

But in places that aren’t struggling with undrinkable water, clean water from your tap is free, and it’s better-regulated than bottled water. Ottawa tests its water quality 125,000 times a year. The water in Toronto is tested every four to six hours. How many tests does bottled water undergo? Not clear, because we’re relying on companies to be honest about where their water comes from. News flash: companies lie to make a profit.

The majority of bottled water is actually treated tap water. So bottled-water drinkers are paying extra for what they can get for free.

For instance, Poland Spring is fighting a class action lawsuit that alleges their water doesn’t actually come from a spring. According to the non-profit group Food and Water Watch, the majority of bottled water is actually treated tap water. So bottled-water drinkers are paying extra for what they can get for free.

What does bottled water have that tap water doesn’t? More plastic! The World Health Organization released a study that found 90% of all bottled water contains microplastics, which was roughly twice as much as a previous study on tap water. A bottle of Nestlé Pure Life contained 10,000 plastic pieces per litre. Sure, the horror of today is that plastic is in pretty much everything. But do you want to drink more plastic? No?!? Then stop drinking water that’s been encased in plastic for lord knows how long, you dipstick.

The fact is, the UN has declared clean water a human right. In my eyes, if you have clean water available, you’re violating your own rights with every sip you take from a plastic bottle.

But maybe I shouldn’t blame you for falling for this clever marketing ploy, because you’re clearly sheeple. According to a University of Birmingham study, many people think they’re making the healthy choice when they choose bottled water, even though they’re not sure what the health benefits are. Participants described bottled water as more “pure” and containing more “minerals” than tap water, but this simply isn’t true. If you ask me, the real reason many choose plastic-wrapped water over publicly funded aqua is convenience. They’re just too lazy to carry around heavy reusable bottles.

Many people think they’re making the healthy choice when they choose bottled water, even though they’re not sure what the health benefits are.

What’s weird is that people are otherwise making better beverage choices. In 2017, sales of fizzy sugar drinks dropped by 1.3%. Water sales increased 6.2%, which is exactly why Coca-Cola and Pepsi got in the branded water game. That, and water is cheap! Nestlé pays only C$3.71 for every million litres of water it takes from Hillsburgh, ON, and until recently, my home province British Columbia was letting Nestlé take millions of litres a year from a well in the town of Hope for free.

And then they take that water and sell it back to dumb-dumbs like you for a lot: bottled water can be up to 2,000 times as expensive as tap water. It’s a marketing scam. As Business Insider pointed out: “Bottled water is a $13 billion business that, logically, doesn’t need to exist.”

You know what also doesn’t need to exist? All that plastic waste. By now I hope you’ve seen the stats that over 90% of all plastics do not get recycled, and a lot of that plastic comes from bottled water containers. Literally no one is promoting bottled water except for marketers, who are scamming you and ruining the planet.

To add insult to injury, the amount of water that goes into making a plastic bottle is more than the water it holds. It takes over a litre of water to make a 1-litre plastic bottle. Then there’s the energy it takes to make the bottle and deliver it to you. All in all, bottled water is up to 2,000 times more energy-intensive than tap water.

So, next time you go to an event and someone offers you bottled water, think twice before you take two sips and then abandon it for someone else to clean up later — they’ll just pour the water and its microplastics down the drain, and, if you’re lucky, recycle the bottle. All the energy that went into creating that bottle was just for you to have two sips, you trash monster!

It takes over a litre of water to make a 1-litre plastic bottle.

You know the world has a plastic problem, and you’ve heard scientists say we have only 11 years left to avoid climate catastrophe. Do you really need that bottle of water? Are you literally dying of thirst? Is it really so impossible for you to bring your own, or have a glass of tap water? It might seem inconvenient now, but imagine how inconvenient life will be when you’re surrounded by mountains of garbage, inhaling smoke from forest fires, unable to visit your favourite cities because they’re underwater.

Oh, you know all this but you just don’t like the taste of the free clean water coming from your taps? For the cost of a few bottles you can get your own filter. Want to look fancy? Cut up some lemons, cucumbers, mint, or strawberries, throw them in your water and pretend you’re at a high-end spa. Though, to be honest, you really don’t need to; most people in a blind taste test prefer tap water.

When I look at our over-reliance on single use items, I think we don’t deserve this planet. Earth has so much to offer if we treat it right, but I just see people making more wasteful choices every day, bottled-water drinking among them. But you can stop it. Just stop being a garbage person. Stop drinking bottled water. Now!

A version of this article appeared in the Summer/Fall 2019 print edition of Asparagus Magazine. Subscribe today!

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Asparagus Magazine

Sara Bynoe

Written by

AKA The Environmentalist From Hell @ Asparagus Magazine www.SaraBynoe.com

Asparagus Magazine

Asparagus tells the large and small stories of how we can live sustainably, from an environmental, social, and cultural perspective.

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