Plastic bottles of water are convenient to carry and easy to use. They are not convenient to dispose of however and they are not easy on your budget. Both problems can be addressed with a little behavior modification.
The single-serve bottled water industry is one of the fastest growing industries in America today. More than 31 billion bottles were sold in 2006 at a cost of nearly $11 billion. Tack on the cost of those cute little purse or lunch sized tubes of powdered mixes used to flavor the single serve bottles and the cost jumps even more.
According to a report by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservancy, only 10% of these bottles end up being recycled. The rest end up as trash in our landfills or worse, as litter. More than 18 million barrels of crude oil equivalent were used to replace the 2 million tons of plastic bottles that were wasted instead of being recycled. Imagine what that could do for our oil reserves and the cost of gasoline!
The Cost to You
In some instances, bottled water is necessary, where no clean tap water is available for drinking. Bottled water is not regulated the same way as your tap water and in some instances may be less pure than what comes out of your faucet. If you use bottled water, you may not realize just how much you are spending. This neat little calculator can help you identify your annual bottled water expenses and compare it to what you would pay to drink the same amount from your tap. In the example given on the site, comparing one 16-ounce bottle a day at an average cost of $1.50 to the national average price of .002 cents per gallon, one person could save $546.77 annually. That’s 365 bottles that don’t hit the landfill too.
The calculator can be adjusted for bottle price, number of bottles per day and your local water supply cost to give you a pretty accurate reading of what you are spending.
What Can You Do?
- Purchase reusable plastic bottles that you can fill, carry with you and bring home again to use over and over. It is far better to spend $3 or $4 once and have no trash than to spend $1.50 each day and contribute needlessly to the landfills.
- If you must use single-serve plastic water bottles, make sure to recycle them.
- When you go for a walk, carry a plastic bag and pick up plastic bottles while you walk. Recycle these too.
- Get involved by starting a recycling program in your neighborhood or at your church or school