Grade 9, Wilmington High School, Wilmington
Mrs. Mutchler, Teacher
Stop "Tap" Dancing Around the Facts
For the last decade, the focus of our world has been on living a healthy lifestyle, taking care of our environment and improving our economy. We are told to read food labels and eat healthier. We are also told to recycle, and use biodegradable products in order to save our planet. We learn how important it is to save money and spend money wisely. But there's a product that we continue to buy that is expensive, bad for the environment and in some cases, not healthy. That product is bottled water.
In 2011, total bottled water sales in the United States reached 9.1 billion gallons. That translates to 29.2 gallons of bottled water per person. The world spends over $190 billion dollars on bottled water per year. Most people buy water because they believe it is healthy, it is convenient and they prefer to drink water rather than soda. They also think that tap water is not healthy and does not taste as good as bottled water. But what they don't know are the facts about bottled water and the benefits that would happen if we purchased fewer bottles.
If the world did not produce as many bottles of water, one benefit would be to our cars! In order to produce bottled water, petroleum is needed. In fact, it takes over 25 million gallons of petroleum to produce 1 billion plastic water bottles. Just think - the amount of oil used to make a year's worth of bottles could fuel one million cars! This would help keep gas prices down and make us less dependent on foreign countries.
Most people drink bottled water because they think it's safer than tap water. However, public water systems are tested regularly by the Environmentally Protection Agency (EPA) for bacteria and toxic chemicals. You can even look on line to see scores for your local tap water. Also, the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) tests our drinking water in accordance with state and federal standards to make sure our water is safe to drink. The MWRA also provides a monthly and annual water quality update. The annual water quality update provides an overview of where the water comes from, how it is treated and tested, and what the tests show. Bottled water does fall under the oversight of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but the FDA does not closely monitor the overall process of bottling water. Tap water can taste as good as bottled water. In fact, close to half of the bottled water is filtered tap water!
How about the environment? Did you know that bottled water produces about 1.5 million tons of waste each year? Less than a quarter of plastic bottles are recycled, and 80% of them end up in landfills. Some are burned, which release toxic chemicals in the air. Some are thrown out on the ground by litterbugs and birds mistake them for food and try to eat them! This is very dangerous to birds and other wildlife.
How about the cost to buy bottled water? Tap water is 560 times less expensive than bottled water. Think of the money we could save if we just used tap water. Yes, one might need to purchase a filter for the tap water and your water bill may be higher, but still you would be paying about one-tenth of a cent per gallon as opposed to about ninety cents per gallon of bottled water. If you look at labels on bottled waters, you would see that many of them are not from those fresh streams that you see on television but rather, from filtered tap water.
Now there are no excuses. We know bottled water hurts the environment and costs lots of money. We also know that some of the bottled water we are drinking is actually filtered tap water. We know that bottled water is not tested like tap water is, so some bottled water contains harmful chemicals in it. We know that our environment would be cleaner and fuel costs would decrease if we stop using bottled water. Let's stop "tap" dancing around the facts and all commit to making a change that will benefit our world. Switch to tap water today!
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