Join the Fight Against Plastic Water Bottles!

Posted on November 12, 2015
Picking up a plastic water bottle

Earlier this year, as Californians were following the first ever state-mandated water restrictions, a story broke that not all of the state was cutting back on their water usage – Nestle Waters North America was tapping springs in the San Bernardino National Forest in one of the hardest hit areas, southern California. Nestle’s CEO, Tim Brown was asked if Nestle would stop bottling water in the Golden State, his response, “Absolutely not. In fact, if I could increase it, I would,” enraged many California residents, and surprised Americans coast-to-coast.

Even though safe drinking water is readily and cheaply available, the bottled water industry is still a big business. In 2014, bottled water companies spent more than $84 million on advertising to convince consumers that bottled water is healthier than soda and safer than tap water. And Americans have been buying it – Americans have an increasing love of bottled water, particularly single-use plastic water bottles. According to the Beverage Marketing Corporation (BMC), the consumption of bottled water has risen steadily in the past 14 years. In 2000, Americans drank an average of 23 gallons of bottled water, but by 2014 that number has risen to 34 gallons, or about 10.7 billion gallons in the U.S. market and about $13 billion in sales.

Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles are Harmful to the Environment

These increases, although beneficial to the bottled water companies (revenue) and consumers (convenience), come at an enormous environment cost. The Pacific Institute, a nonprofit research organization, found that it took the equivalent of 17 million barrels of oil to produce the plastic water bottles that Americans drank in 2006 – that is enough to keep a million cars on the road for a year! And that is only the energy used to produce the plastic bottles – not the energy used to deliver them, keep them cold, or ship the empty bottles to recycling plants or landfills.

To make matters worse, of the billions of plastic water bottles being sold each year, the majority aren’t recycled. Only about 31% of single-use plastic bottles are recycled, the other 69% is piled up in landfills or left in our streets and waterways as litter.

While recycling is better than throwing plastic bottles away, it isn’t the best option. Stiv Wilson, Director of Campaigns at the Story of Stuff Project, says that most single-use bottles that are recycled are turned into textiles, rather than new plastic bottles. And when you wash this synthetic clothing, microplastics end up in the drain and eventually in our waterways. Wilson explains how much damage plastic does to our environment by saying, “If you start out with a bad material to begin with, recycling it is going to be an equally bad material. You’re changing its shape, but its environmental implications are the same.”

Single-use bottles are part of a growing plastic epidemic in our oceans. A recent study found that by 2050, 99% of all seabirds will be ingesting plastic. Plastic is also a problem on land. It is reported that plastic bottles average almost 1/3 of the solid waste that is littering our national parks. In 2011, Jon Jarvis, National Park Service Director, wrote that parks “must be a visible exemplar of sustainability” and that more than 400 parks in the National Park Service could ban the sale of plastic bottles if they meet the requirements to make drinking water easily available to all visitors. According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, 20 national parks were able to meet those requirements, thus banning the sale of single-use plastic water bottles, but there are still over 300 to go…

It’s Time to Eliminate Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles

The good news is that change is coming and people are starting to stray away from single-use plastic water bottles. Activists have recently stood up and challenged the misleading marketing that the bottled water industry leads the public into believing. Based off the pictures printed on single-use plastic water bottle labels, many consumers believe that bottled water comes from pristine mountain springs. The reality is that over half of bottled water is filtered from municipal water sources rather than the natural springs that the labels presume. Because of this, activists have fought, and successfully won, to have Pepsi and Nestle, 2 of the 3 major bottled water companies, accurately label the source of its water.

Activists are not the only ones fighting back, residents are also speaking their minds about the single-use plastic water bottle companies. If a company is not bottling from a municipal water source, the bottled water is mostly spring water from wilderness areas. Residents of these areas are concerned about industrial withdrawals of groundwater that could affect the land. For example, the residents of McCloud, California fought for 6 years against Nestle’s plan for a water bottling facility. Nestle eventually scrapped its plans and left town but ended up 200 miles down the road in Sacramento, California filling bottles with municipal water.

And it doesn’t stop there! Colleges and students are also taking a stance in this fight. Close to 100 schools have taken action – some increasing the availability of filtered water on campuses, others passing regulations that student government funds cannot be used to purchase single-use plastic water bottles, and a few colleges have banned the sale of single-use plastic water bottles completely.

Municipalities are fighting, too. In 2007, San Francisco passed a resolution that prohibits the city from spending money on single-use plastic water bottles for its offices. In 2010, at the Conference of Mayors, 72% of mayors said they have considered “eliminating or reducing bottled water purchases within city facilities” and 9 mayors had already adopted a ban proposal. San Francisco took their resolution a step further when they banned the sale of bottled water on city property in 2015. And in 2019, plastic water bottles were banned from being sold at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).

How You Can Join the Fight & Help Eliminate Single-Use Plastic Bottles

Switching to a Quench bottleless water cooler will have a positive impact on the environment. Our bottleless water coolers are point-of-use (POU) machines, which means they connect directly to a building’s existing water line and deliver filtered water straight from the municipal water supply. Because of this, our filtered water dispensers eliminate the need for water delivery services like 5-gallon plastic jugs or single-use plastic water bottles. Just one filtered water cooler will prevent up to 150 5-gallon jugs, or 6,000 16. oz water bottles, from ending up in landfills and waterways each year and reduces all the associated production and transportation pollution.

So, whether you are a college, university, government agency, hospital, retail store, or office, our Quench Water Experts will be able to tailor a filtered drinking water solution that fits your drinking water needs and helps save the environment one water cooler at a time.

To learn more, please visit our website or check out our Product Finder to see which water cooler is right for you!

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