Today’s topic will be about something as simple and common as plastic bottles and bottled water. Let us be honest, we all buy them frequently and are religiously choosing bottled drinks over tap water.
Along Tanzania’s roads: tons and tons of plastic bottles from all over the world
Why do we use them? They’re convenient. They’re healthy. They’re safe. At least that’s what the water industry wants us to believe, that bottled water is healthier than tap water. This is actually wrong, because bottled water is less regulated than municipal tap water, often resulting in much poorer quality. With pristine mountain landscapes on their wrapping, amongst other clever marketing strategies the industry tricks everyone into believing that tap water isn’t safe to drink and that their product is the best possible alternative. Big companies like Nestlé, The Coco Cola Company and PepsiCo pump local tap water all around the world and sell it at horrendous high prices (at about 1000-2000x more than tap water). It is true that in some parts of the world tap water actually is polluted and unsafe to drink, but guess what, the pollution often goes back to the plastic bottle production itself.
Which leads me directly to the next point: The effect on our planet and our health. The production of plastic bottles uses millions of gallons of oil and the CO2 emissions from these industries is massive, let alone the other toxic waste they’re creating. Also the bottle itself isn’t that safe, they contain many carcinogens and other nasties which solve into the water and which we end up ingesting, yum!
Polluted beach in Surin, Phuket, Thailand
Also the disposal of the bottles is a big issue. Roughly 80% of these so-called recyclable bottles are not even recycled! They end up in our oceans, in landfills, get incinerated which even creates more toxic pollution or they end up on a ship load heading to India or Africa and end up in their landfills. Can you imagine that I randomly spotted a bottle from Luxembourg along a road in Tanzania. Out of sight, out of mind or what?
What can we do to end this plastic disaster?
- Boycott bottled water/drinks! Use your own bottle or container, fill it up at home or on the go (We use this and this one), ask for tap water at the restaurant,…
- Go plastic free and reduce your overall plastic consumption, ditch plastic bags, think twice before buying plastic wrapped stuff, try package free alternatives (more on going zero waster soon here on the blog),…
If you are interested in this topic and want to read more about it, make sure to watch the documentary Tapped as well as a documentary on Nestlé Waters, the water indusrty and this video about the story of bottled water.