Bottled Water Ecosystem Impact

“Water is Destiny” is a recurring phrase in sustainability.  Without sufficient water, we can’t produce the food we need.  And our very bodies are made up mostly of water, such that dehydration leads to major ailments.  Recalling western movies in which ranchers often fought for water rights, we’re seeing the same situation between nations.  Here’s a report that takes the water shortage phenomenon to our personal scale.  I’ll add comments afterwards.

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Environmental impact of bottled water ‘up to 3,500 times greater than tap water’


Researchers in Barcelona also found

impact of bottled water on ecosystems was

1,400 times higher than that of tap water


Joey Grostern

The Guardian

5 Aug 2021


The impact of bottled water on natural resources is 3,500 times higher than for tap water, scientists have found.

The research is the first of its kind and examined the impact of bottled water in Barcelona, where it is becoming increasingly popular despite improvements to the quality of tap water in recent years.

Research led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) found that if the city’s population were all to drink bottled water, this would result in a 3,500 times higher cost of resource extraction than if they all drank tap water, at $83.9m (£60.3m) per year.

Researchers also found the impact of bottled water on ecosystems is 1,400 times higher than tap water.

The authors concluded that the reduction in environmental impacts more than offset the small risk of bladder cancer associated with drinking tap water.

The process of treating drinking water generates low levels of trihalomethanes (THM), which have been associated with a higher risk of bladder cancer. THM levels in drinking water are regulated in the EU.

The lead author of the study, ISGlobal researcher Cristina Villanueva, said:


“Health reasons don’t justify the wide

use  of bottled water. Yes, strictly

speaking drinking tap water is worse

for local health, but when you weigh

both, what you gain from drinking

bottled water is minimal. It’s quite

obvious that the environmental im-

pacts of bottled water are higher

compared to tap water.”


In the US, 17 million barrels of oil are needed to produce the plastic to meet bottled water demand per year. In addition, bottled water in the UK is at least 500 times more expensive than tap water.  Villanueva added:


“I think this study can help to reduce

bottled water consumption, but we need

more active policies to change that.


“For example, in Barcelona, we could

have more education campaigns to make

the public aware that the health gains

from drinking bottled water are minor

compared to the environmental impacts.


“We need to improve access to public

water, to public fountains, to public

buildings where you can bring your

own bottle and don’t need to buy one.

We need to facilitate access to public

water in public streets.


“People trust bottled water because

advertisers have done a good job of

convincing people it’s a good option,

so we need the effort on the other side.”


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Our Garden Atrium homes come equipped – as a standard feature – with a commercial-grade Kinetico reverse osmosis water filter.  The concern about getting cancer or unwanted chemicals is gone.  And homeowners do not have to spend a dime on bottled water.  Big box retailers offer less expensive RO systems.  Adding D’s comments …


“If each person carried with them a

permanent (glass or metal) refillable

water bottle, waste would be way

down. In addition, if the water that

fills up the refillable water bottles

were filtered, your choice is healthier

for yourself and the planet.


“Individuals think about recycling

water bottles. But people forget the

cost to produce the bottles, the cost

of the plants that bottle the water,

and the cost of transporting that

water.  Bottled water in single-use

plastic need only be for emergencies.”

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