Plastic Bottles Environmental Impact

By guest author Judith Sambrailo

Bottled water has been purported to be safer than tap and is clearly more convenient, so what’s the problem?  Bottled water generates tons of refuse.  Each year, Americans throw away 26 billion bottles and only 15% are recycled.  On top of that, 16.5 billion gallons of water is wasted to supply Americans with “convenient” access to water.  The bottles are made of plastic that does not biodegrade, becoming a permanent component of our landfills.  In 2005 nearly 2 million tons of plastic water bottles were sent to the landfill as opposed to being recycled.

Bottled water is no safer than tap water. Non-profit Natural Resource Defense Council conducted a four-year review of the bottled water industry and the safety standards that govern it, including a comparison of national bottled water rules with national tap water rules, and independent testing of over 1,000 bottles of water. The conclusion was that there is no assurance that just because water comes out of a bottle it is any cleaner or safer than water from the tap. And in fact, an estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle — sometimes further treated, sometimes not.

Bottled water hurts the environment. In 2006, the equivalent of 2 billion half-liter bottles of water were shipped to U.S. ports, creating thousands of tons of global warming pollution and other air pollution. In New York City alone, the transportation of bottled water from western Europe released an estimated 3,800 tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere. In California, 18 million gallons of bottled water were shipped in from Fiji in 2006, producing about 2,500 tons of global warming pollution.

Plastic bottles pose a health risk. Studies have shown that phthalates, a toxic chemical, disrupt hormones such as testosterone, and which can leach into bottled water over time. One study found that water that had been stored for 10 weeks in plastic and in glass bottles contained phthalates, conjecturing that the chemicals could be coming from the plastic cap or liner.

Unlike tap water, there are no FDA regulatory standards set for bottled water limiting the amount of phthalates. Thanks to the bottled water industry campaign for victoriously opposing the FDA proposal to set a legal limit on these harmful chemicals!  And when bottled water marketing convinces one in five people that the only place to get drinking water is from a bottle, it threatens the political will to adequately fund our public water systems.

“The pervasiveness of our consumerism holds a seductive kind of mob mentality. Collectively we are committing a vast and unsustainable act of taking, but we each are anonymous and no one is in charge or accountable for the consequences. I fear that in this process we are doing irreparable harm to our planet and to our individual spirits.” – Chris Jordan, artist

However, there are ways in which to help. To start making a positive difference, choose tap over bottled water. Nothing speaks louder than where you spend your money. Instead of spending money on bottled water, invest your dollars into public infrastructure or watershed protection. Demand controls supply, bottled water will be around as long as there is demand for it. Contact your state representatives and tell them that you will not acquiesce the selling of American water to multinational or corporate interests. Instead, support local public-sector projects that produce long-term, sustainable water solutions. The power is with the people, but only if we raise our voices to be heard.
Judy Sambrailo, owner of Nubius Organics writes on green tips and practices for healthy, sustainable living. Nubius Organics is an online web-store offering a wide selection of organic, eco-friendly reusable products including Eco-Friendly Water Bottles and reusable bottles. Please visit for more green tips and eco-friendly products.

Dr. Jo’s comments:

Once again we’ve been duped – thinking something is healthy when it most likely is only making over all health worse. I’m talking about bottles water.

Water in plastic bottles may be more polluted than tap water because the chemicals in the plastic may leach into the water.

For awhile I kept a stock of bottled water in my ca runtil I started tasting the chemicals. The longer you leave plastic bottles of water in the heat, the more the chemicals will leach into the water. No more stowing plastic bottles of water in my car, especially in the heat!

Basically, avoid water in plastic bottles. Carry purified water in a stainless steel or glass lined container.

I still recommend purifying tap water with a high quality filter system. Currently we use a reverse osmosis filter installed under our sink.


About Dr. Jo

Dr. JoDr. Jo delights in sharing the message of health. She believes disease is optional if you know how to take care of yourself. And she’s a great coach to help you reverse or prevent disease.

So she writes this blog to keep you up to date with information that may undermine your health if you are not aware of it. She also provides tips on healthy living, how to reverse degenerative diseases, delicious recipes, and ways to enjoyably change your habits to healthy ones.

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