We’ve all been there: You’ve just finished a heavy-duty sweat session at the gym, you’re thirsty, and the water fountain looks like it's covered in eight million people’s saliva, plus a little bit of mold. The easiest solution? Ducking out to buy a bottle of water from the first drug store you can find.
It seems innocent enough—we’ve all gotta hydrate, right? But unfortunately, bottled water is wreaking havoc on the Earth’s precious resources. Plus, it’s almost definitely not any safer or cleaner than tap water—and in fact, sometimes it’s worse.
If you’ve been wondering about the consequences of a bottled water habit (whether it’s personal, national, or global), then look no further. This handy-dandy infographic outlines the stark consequences—environmental, physical, and economic—of guzzling the bottled stuff. Ready to quit it? Then check out our action tips at the bottom.
Ditching the Bottle: Your Action Plan
- The best long-term solution is to make tap water safe for everyone. Write to your representatives in Congress, the FDA, and your state’s governor and ask them to maintain high standards for municipal water (and to adopt strict standards for bottled water safety and labeling, while you’re at it).
- Carry a reusable water bottle (ideally BPA-free) everywhere you go. That way, you’ll always be able to hydrate without purchasing bottles. Fill up for free at water fountains and most take-out restaurants—just ask an employee if they’ll fill it up for you. If you’re worried about contaminants, consider buying a water bottle with a filter.
- Learn more about your tap water. Call your water provider (the one that sends your water bills) and ask them about water quality in your area. All tap water suppliers must provide annual water quality reports to their customers.
- If your tap water does contain contaminants, select a filter that removes them. Check out the National Resources Defense Council’s Consumer Guide to Water Filters to learn which filter is right for you.
- Pledge to Take Back the Tap and Ditch Disposable. These two campaigns help to spread awareness about the consequences of drinking bottled water and encourage participants to commit to living a life that’s disposable-free.
- Do not reuse disposable plastic water bottles. They can’t be properly cleaned and may leach chemicals over repeated uses.
- Support initiatives to ban bottled water. Thus far, New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago’s Cook County have banned the use of government funds to buy bottled water, and some universities have started to ban the sale of bottled water.
- If you have to buy bottled, buy it better. Learn where your bottled water was sourced. Check the bottle’s label and/or the cap—if it says “from a municipal source” or “from a community water system,” that means it’s derived from tap water and there’s no point in paying for it in bottled form. If it’s not labeled, call the bottler and ask where it came from. Choose only varieties that come from protected sources.
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