Plastic Bottles

Bottled Water

Fast Facts

  • Americans use and throw away 2.5 million plastic water bottles every hour. That’s 60 million bottles every day. 

 

  • About half of the bottled water sold in America is ordinary tap water that has been run through a filter.

 

  • Plastic water bottles contain chemicals that have been linked to endocrine disruption  and several types of cancer.

Every hour, Americans use and throw away 2.5 million plastic water bottles…that’s 60 million in just one day! Less than a quarter of those are recycled; the rest are incinerated, end up in landfills, litter our neighborhoods or end up floating in our oceans. North of Hawaii, millions of plastic water bottles and other indestructible plastic items are trapped by the circular currents of the Northern Pacific Gyre. It is one of five gyres – slow-moving whirlpools - found in oceans around the world.


Many people prefer bottled water because of its perceived purity and safety, but up to 50 percent of the bottled water Americans consume is simply ordinary tap water. In some cases, bottled water is just repackaged municipal water that has or has not been filtered or further purified. Regulations to insure the safety of municipal water are set by the EPA, while those for bottled water are set by the FDA. Furthermore, the FDA does not require bottled water companies to disclose to consumers where the water came from, how or if it was treated or what contaminants it contains.

Another concern is the safety of the chemicals used to manufacture plastic water bottles. Many plastic bottles contain phthalates and/or bisphenol A (BPA), and researchers and physicians are concerned about the effects that exposure to these chemicals may have on human health.

BPA and phthalates are both known endocrine disrupters and may contribute to breast and other reproductive cancers. Some bottles contain other harmful chemicals, such as PVC and styrene, and heavy metals, all of which can leach into the water.

Things you can do:

Re-useable glass or stainless-steel water bottles with filtered water is your best alternative to water in plastic bottles. See our section on water for more information on effective water filters.

 
Bottled Water Resources
 
Web Resources 
  • “Tapped – The Movie”– A must see, behind-the-scenes look into the unregulated and unseen world of the bottled water business, including the experiences of people whose lives were affected by the industry.

Related Pages 

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Related Podcasts from Green Street
Our Plastic Ocean with Erica Cirino

Hooked on Plastics with Dr. Jodi Sherman

The Dirt on Plastics with Mary Beth Kirkham
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