Bottled water consumption is up 70% since 2001, according to For many years, I was a huge bottled water consumer. During my college days, I remember going to the store to buy gallons of bottled water and lug them back to my dorm room. After college, I lived on the road full time working in production, so the bottled water fix became even worse. During the production events, we would go through cases of water bottles. Between the bands, the speakers and the production team, we easily consumed 20 cases of bottled water a day. I never gave it much thought. I never thought how wasteful I was being and how much energy I could be saving if I simply used a stainless steel container. Once I finally discovered the amount of energy required to produce a single bottle of water, I made the switch. A recent study performed by researchers Peter Gleick and Heather Cooley from the Pacific Institute in Oakland, CA, found some outstanding results. They discovered that it takes about 2,000 times more energy to produce a single bottle of water compared to drinking from the tap (or filtering your own tap water). They took into consideration the energy required to create the PET plastic, process the water, seal the bottle, transport the bottle and finally refrigerate the water. The amount of energy required to produce a single liter bottle of water is 10.2 million joules, compared to 0.005 million joules to produce a liter of processed tap water. If those numbers aren’t enough, take a look at some statistics from the Pacific Institute:
  • Producing the bottles for American consumption required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil, not including the energy for transportation.
  • Bottling water produced more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide.
  • It takes 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of plastic bottled water.
If you’re looking for the best way to reverse the upswing of bottled water consumption, the first step is to stop buying it. Purchase a stainless steel reusable bottle or a glass water bottle and reuse it with filtered or spring water. You can either have a water filter installed in your home or you can use a commercial filter found at most supermarkets. These still require some energy usage, but a minimal amount compared to purchasing bottled water that had to be transported across the country. If you have a friend or family member that has well water or you know of a local spring, fill your 5-gallon buckets and use the water for your daily consumption. There are two ways you can recycle your water filters. The first way is to take the filter apart and dispose of the charcoal and other sand elements in your back yard or add it to your compost. The second way, according to Planet Green, is to drop off your used water filters at your local Whole Foods Market. Evidently, they will take your used water filters and send them off to be recycled. The next time you’re standing in line at your local coffee shop and you need a drink of water, ask the barista for a cup of tap water (most likely their water is filtered) in a “for here” cup. Drink your glass of water and return the cup. Stay away from the temptation of buying bottled water and supporting this multi-billion-dollar industry that’s hurting the planet.