Editor’s Note: There are currently serious concerns about high levels of lead in the water supply in the Village of Hamilton. It is important to be aware of this and to put individual health and safety first for the time being.
How much did you spend on bottled water this month? Drinking bottled water actually has virtually no benefits over tap water (assuming the tap source is clean and uncontaminated) but it does put a sizable dent in your wallet.
The production of bottled water is one of the most environmentally unfriendly practices. Not only is it one of the largest plastic waste contributors, but it also uses a massive amount of energy. So why not help out the environment and your bank account by cutting out bottled water?
Drinking tap water is a lot more convenient than buying bottles. If we simply consider the cost, then it’s easy to see which option is preferable. On average, a gallon of bottled water costs around 7.50 dollars. That’s about 2000 times the cost of a gallon of tap water. If the disparity in these numbers isn’t enough to convince you, why don’t we take a look at the accessibility of each.
For tap water, it’s easy. You simply walk to the tap in your apartment or down the hall in your dorm and fill up your bottle or container. However, to buy bottled water you need to travel to a store and take valuable time out of your day. It has even been estimated that up to 25 percent of this bottled water is just tap water. It’s much more convenient to use the constantly available tap water.
You already know that bottled water produces an incredible amount of waste, but do you know the production of these water bottles is also a major contributor to pollution? The production of just one bottle of water, requires three times the amount of water to be put into the process. Not only does it take more water to make a bottle, it also requires a large amount of oil. Filling up a standard water bottle a quarter of the way shows you about how much oil was used to make it.
Even if we ignore the resources used to make the actual bottle, we still need to factor in the energy cost. It takes, on average, 2000 times as much energy to make a bottle of water, compared to the equivalent in tap water. And that’s only the damage the production itself causes.
The harm of the bottles themselves is a different story. 80 percent of plastic bottles inevitably end up in a landfill, where they can take over 1000 years to decompose. This decomposition process also causes chemicals from the plastic to leak into the environment.
Not only are the bottles causing damage to the environment, but they could be hurting you too. If water bottles are left to sit for long periods of time, there is a chance that phthalates from the bottle could leach into the water. Ingesting these can result in the disruption of hormone levels like testosterone.
So why keep buying water bottles? If you don’t have easy access to a tap or a drinking fountain, an easy fix is to buy a large refillable water bottle. This way, you can store a large amount of water in your room without always having to refill. If you don’t want to buy a refillable water bottle, you can even use a gallon jug you have leftover!
Recently we have had some water problems here at Colgate, but the contamination only impacts certain areas of campus. These issues should be resolved quickly and the water in these areas will likely be back to normal soon. It is important that we, as a community, use this as an opportunity to reflect on the sustainability of our own water-drinking habits and the importance of making informed, environmental decisions.
Contact Nick Mecca