Where do we start? Okay, put your hand up if you are happy to pay more than 1,000 times over the cost for anything. No hands showing? Now put your hand up if you would buy a bottle of something down at the shops for $3.50 that you can get for free with no effort. No hands showing? Well our hands should be up – this is what millions of us do every day. How did this happen?
This is what we do with water in Australia. Australians purchased over 726 millions litres of water in 2015.1 The average cost of the most popular bottled water in Australia is $2.75 per litre. Therefore Australians may have spent up to $2 billion dollars on bottled water in 2015.2
Bottled water has to be pumped out of the ground, packaged, transported and chilled before it gets to us. This creates over 60,000 tons of greenhouses gases a year in Australia alone.3 Australia imports water from Fiji and even from some places as far as Italy and France. Do you think this is wasteful?
The manufacture and transport of the plastic bottles for all this water requires over 460,000 barrels of oil.4 Less than 40% of these bottles are recycled; the balance ends up in landfill or in our waterways.7
Recycling 41 plastic bottles saves enough energy to run a fridge for 1 hour or a computer for 17 hours.5 Recycling makes a big difference; the more we recycle the less raw materials we use.
When Australia was first introduced to bottled water in the late 1980s, we all thought it was a joke. Us Aussies would never be so foolish as to buy bottled water. Well, the joke is on us! In a triumph of marketing over reason we are buying bottled water in droves!
Where does all this bottled water come from? Clean, peaceful rivers and bubbling mountain brooks as depicted on the bottles? Not so much. It’s mostly bore water pumped from the ground at almost zero cost.
How about getting back to the tap? This is a growing movement that is gaining momentum – from Paris to San Francisco, to Melbourne, to big towns to tiny towns, to restaurants and to schools. Growing numbers of people are ditching bottled water and returning to the humble tap. Is this a radical move or simply the way forward?
In some places, bottled water is actually being banned, and instead people are being asked to bring a reusable container to the tap instead. Some are bringing back the old-fashioned glass or mug (if you haven’t seen one for a while, it’s a receptacle with a hole at one end that you fill up with liquid). Some even come with lovely designs or wacky slogans. Some of us feel we need filtered water, and there are a host of filter jug systems available or you can get a filter fitted to your kitchen tap.
Are you going to go back to the tap? Just remember, a simple change can make a big difference.
Bottled Water – Did you know?
* It takes up to 3-7 litres of water and one litre of oil to produce one litre of bottled water.6,7
* A recent Sydney Morning Herald article showed Many taste tests have shown most consumers can’t taste the difference between bottled and tap2
* Bottles used to package water take over 1,000 years to bio-degrade and if incinerated, they produce toxic fumes.7
* Most water bottles end in landfill.7
* The average Australian drinks 30 litres of bottled water per year.2
* Australians buy more then 118,000 tonnes of plastic drink bottles a year.10
* It takes 8 years to recoup the cost of a bottle of water by refilling the bottle with tap water.11
* Water bottlers (Coke & Schweppes) of Australia are fighting against legislation for a container deposit scheme. What? The system has worked very well in South Australia for 35 years. NSW will have a similar scheme that should start in July 2017.11
Want to learn more about Waste, Water and Consumption?
1) https://www.businessinsider.com.au/bottled-water-costs-2000x-more-than-tap-2013-7, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jun/01/should-i-stop-drinking-bottled-water, https://www.smh.com.au/business/consumer-affairs/bottled-water-producer-admits-consumers-paying-for-plastic-not-pure-safe-water-20160715-gq6oif.html.
4) https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/jul/09/bottled-water-shipped-halfway-round–world-madness, https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/4/1/014009/pdf;jsessionid=00E8DBB2D6F64F73A917E6C9703CF67B.c5.iopscience.cld.iop.org
11) https://theconversation.com/container-deposit-schemes-work-so-why-is-industry-still-opposed-59599, https://www.abc.net.au/btn/story/s2321538.htm, http://www.greenpeace.org/australia/en/news/oceans/The-benefits-and-well-benefits-Your-12-step-guide-to-effective-recycling-in-Australia/