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Sustain / Food Facts

Have you bottled it? How drinking tap water can help save you and the planet. (2006)

Tap water in a bottle!Despite bottled water costing around 500 times as much as tap water, analysts predicted we would buy more than 2 billion litres in 2006. Are you going to "bottle out" of your responsibility to the planet, and carry on drinking increasing quantities of bottled water?

The best way to reduce the environmental damage caused by any sort of waste is to follow the rule "reduce, re-use, recycle".  So although it is possible to recycle plastic water bottles, and even re-use them, by far the best option is not to have a bottle at all.  On this measure, tap water easily wins the environmental battle with bottled water.  There is no plastic waste to burn, bury or turn into other consumer goods, using energy.

Similarly, when it comes to transport, the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management has pointed out the substantial fuel costs, and thousands of tonnes of harmful emissions involved in transferring over 22 million tonnes of bottled liquid from country to country every year.  In contrast, tap water is provided by a comparatively efficient infrastructure of underground pipes and plumbing.  Although the system will use some energy, it will be significantly less than that involved in shipping and trucking bottles around the globe (containing water that has already been pumped and piped and purified), and so will help to reduce our impact on climate change.


 Download 'Have you bottled it?' and other titles from the Food Facts series

Food Facts: A series of short reports on over a dozen different products, shows how people's shopping choices - as well as government policy - can protect the environment, enhance social justice and improve health.

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