Arguing Cause-DeJong

Why Tap Water better than Bottled Water?

Argument: Why Tap Water is better for the environment than Bottled Water.

  • I found this part of my paper to be particularly interesting:All the statistics, i know sometimes they can just be "numbers" and not mean much, but I think I made then so they were understandable.
  • This part was surprisingly difficult: Making the paper flow, I had to take a lot of time on transitions along with organizing the paper because its all online never hand written.
  • Next time I would do this differently: Write my paper out first/ organize it on paper first, then transfer it over to the wikidot.

To most of the public, when it comes to the choice of either tap water or bottled water, the majority of people choose bottled water with absolutely no understanding of why. Yes, it may be more convenient, faster and sometimes seem "better," but that is just ones conception. There is so much more to bottled water then that. Also tap water is actually proven to be just as sanitary with it also being very friendly to the environment. People just need to learn about the "behind the scenes" of these two types of water to truly realize for themselves the many benefits of tap water when compared to bottled water.

Each year the industry (or market?) for bottled water companies increasingly expand. With the bottled water industry becoming so successful it has actually outpaced milk, coffee, and juice in number of gallons of drinks sold, only placing it behind beer and soda (Tam). But what is the cause for this? According to Baumgartner's study, "Bottled water users were twice as likely as others to cite health for their choice of beverage." This only proves the lack of knowledge the public has about tap water.
Tap water has been proven to be just as safe as bottled water. The only difference between the two is that the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, regulates bottled water while the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, is in charge of tap water (Nelson). Along with this one difference, both of these companies have standards very similar to each other. With the understanding of this factor, "Bottled water may be no safer or healthier than tap water, while selling for up to 1,000 times the price," according to Emily Arnold, a researcher with the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit (qtd. in Baumgartner). In fact, the New York City-based action group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, also known as the NRDC, has stated that an estimated 25 percent of bottled water is "really just tap water in a bottle—sometimes further treated, sometimes not" (Owen). So in proving that, in the health aspect both types of waters are equally safe, now we can look at the environmental aspect. While tap water virtually has no harm on the environment, bottled water has a huge impact.

The costs that go into the production of bottled water come through an assortment of different areas, while still at the same time rely on each other. The two types of costs include internal, which directly deal with the production of bottles, and external costs, which are costs that are indirectly related to the production but have to deal with other factors that are affected by this action(?). The internal costs include the use of oil to create the plastic, transportation to the markets, packaging of the bottles themselves and the use of energy used in producing bottled water (Tam). As reported by Earth Policy Institute (EPI), worldwide, some 2.7 million tons or 2.4 million metric tons of plastic, derived from crude oil, are used to bottle water each year requiring more than 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, which is even enough to fuel around 100,000 U.S. cars for a year (Owen). Transportation-wise, 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 (NRDC). The costs don't go down from there. For packaging the $22-billion-a-year bottled water industry uses 1.5 million tons of plastic annually to package water (Baumgartner).

With internal costs being so immense, one might think that the external costs aren't nearly as much but they in fact are due to the matter that this is using up many non-renewable resources of earth. One external cost is the waste created by plastic water bottles. Yes, most bottled water comes in recyclable PET plastic bottles, but only about 13 percent of the bottles we use get recycled. In 2005, 2 million tons of plastic water bottles ended up clogging landfills instead of getting recycled (NRDC). So, with about only 1 out of 5 plastic water bottles being recycled, this is contributing to the 3 billion pounds (1,500,000 tons) of plastic bottle waste per year (Tam). And with so many bottles not being recycled, this causes the issue of litter as well. Another external cost is the tons of carbon dioxide used in the process. With the estimated 1,500,000 tons of plastic waste, that’s 4,500,000 tons of carbon dioxide. Tying in with the use of energy costs, this would equal the energy consumption of 900,000 homes (Tam). From using large amounts of carbon dioxide, it also poses a considerable threat to the ozone with tying back into the transportation of bottled water. Another not so mentioned (overlooked?) cost includes the harm that the plastic has on the ocean and all the living species within it. When bottles enter the ocean animals consume them and all the toxins that are included in the plastic, which is extremely harmful. After ingesting the waste the animals most likely will die, end up washing up on land, and now humans are now exposed to the toxins due to the fact that "plastic debris in the environment can take between 400 and 1,000 years to degrade" (Owen). It has been estimated that over a million sea-birds and one hundred thousand marine mammals and sea turtles are killed each year by ingestion of plastics or entanglement, according to Greenpeace (Tam).

The plastic most commonly used in plastic water bottles is polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which is derived from crude oil (Owen). After use and When this substance begins to degrade, it releases Acetaldehyde, which is better known as ethanol (Karr). As defined by Karr, plastic is essentially a porous material, which means that some of the chemicals leach out into the liquid it contains. This only means that if the chemicals are leaching into the liquid, the chemicals are also leaching into the body of the consumers. Interestingly, also it is found that although there are regulatory standards limiting phthalates in tap water, there are no legal limits for phthalates in bottled water — the bottled water industry waged a successful campaign opposing the FDA proposal to set a legal limit for these chemicals (NRDC). For the public, the hard part is how to be able to tell what is safe and what is not, and there is no exact answer. According to two recent reports, while municipal water utilities, also known as (the organization responsible for) clean tap water, are required to provide public reports of test results, bottled-water makers are not (Stinchfield). This backs up another study that makes the point that about 22 percent of the brands of bottled water tested contained, in at least one sample, chemical contaminants at levels above strict state health limits. And If consumed over a long period of time, some of these contaminants could cause cancer or other health problems (NRDC).

"Bottled water isn't a long-term sustainable solution to securing access to healthy water," said the WWF's Richard Holland. "Clean water is a basic right. Protecting our rivers, streams and wetlands will help ensure that tap water remains a service which delivers good quality drinking water for everyone at a fair price,"(Baumgartner). This statement is so incredibly true. Bottled water is only causing unneeded harm to the environment and is an issue that is very (we are) capable of putting an end to and (by?) spreading awareness. As soon as people make the choice to listen to the facts and see for themselves the harm being caused this is a problem that can easily be solved.



  • NRDC, . "Bottled Water." Natural Resources Defense Council. NRDC, 25 Apr 2008. Web. 10 Feb 2014.

  • Baumgartner, M.. "Study: Bottled Water No Safer Than Tap Water." ABCNews. Web. 10 Feb 2014.


  • Owen, J. "Bottled Water Isn't Healthier Than Tap, Report Reveals." National Geographics. 24 Feb 2006: n. page. Print.


  • Tam , Stephanie. "Bottled Water: Why It’s Bad for You, the Environment, and Water – Part II." Hydrate Life, 18 Oct 2012. Web. 3 Mar 2014. HydrateLife

  • Nelson, Jennifer K.. "Tap Water or Bottled Water: Which Is Better?." . Mayo Clinic, 21 Mar 2012. Web. 10 Feb 2014.

  • Karr, Laura Jean. "Going Green: Get Rid of Plastic Bottles." Bright Hub. N.p., 06 Feb 2010. Web. 6 Mar 2014.;.

  • Stinchfield, Kate. "Is Your Bottled Water Safe." CNN, 13 Jul 2009. Web. 10 Feb 2014.

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