Healthy Environment, Strong Communities, Accountable Government

Bottle-less Water Campaign

Half a billion bottles a year on L.I. is just too much.

The Neighborhood Network is asking Long Island consumers to think twice before they buy a bottle of water. America is the world’s number one consumer of bottled water, buying about 1 billion bottles per week. (FastCompany Magazine) At that rate, Long Islanders buy about 500 million (half a billion) bottles each year. The U.S. bottled water market increased from 5.2 billion gallons and $6.88 billion in 2001 to 8.3 billion gallons and $10.98 billion in 2006, an increase of almost 60%. (International Bottled Water Association) Americans are spending an increasing amount of money, and using an increasing amount of energy transporting bottled water. Bottled water and tap water are generally comparable in quality, although municipal water is much cheaper and is delivered utilizing much less energy than is the case with bottled water. There are detrimental environmental impacts at every stage of the life of a bottle of water, from manufacturing the plastic bottles, to pumping and bottling the water, to shipping it to consumers, to eventual disposing of the bottles, and sales of bottled water are increasing at nearly 10% a year.

The public education campaign being launched by the Neighborhood Network to encourage reduced use of bottle water is very similar to many organizations Nationwide who share concerns about the environmental impacts of Amercans' growing taste for bottled water.

Sept 12 news article

Kick the Bottled Water Habit: Drink “Long Island’s Buried Treasure” Right From Your Tap

Think Twice About Bottled Water

Drinking water is a healthy alternative to soft drinks, and should be encouraged. However, Long Island consumers should think twice before purchasing bottled water for use in the home, office or on the road. There are healthy, convenient, economical, and environmentally friendly alternatives to bottled water. Long Island has high-quality, regularly tested, municipal tap water, that meets more stringent standards than bottled water, and costs a fraction of what bottled water does. Over a $1 billion of taxpayer dollars have been spent protecting open space to help secure the future quality and quantity of our groundwater supply.

The Neighborhood Network has called on all levels of government on Long Island to lead by example on this issue, by banning the purchase of bottled water with tax dollars, and removing bottled water from vending machines in government offices. The purchase of bottled water by Long Island counties and towns is wasteful of tax payer dollars, as well as energy and other natural resources, and it sends the wrong message to residents about the quality of Long Island's drinking water.

A number of municipalities around the country are considering, or have already taken, steps to reduce or eliminate bottled water in government offices or at government funded public events.

Bottled Water Facts

Energy Wasted

  • Manufacturing the PET plastic bottles for American bottled water consumption required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil (not including the energy for transportation). (Pacific Institute)
  • When the energy used to fill water bottles at the bottling plant, transport them, cool them in stores and home refrigerators, and recover, recycle or dispose of the empty bottles is considered, each bottle uses an amount of energy equivalent to filling the bottle a quarter of the way with oil (Pacific Institute), or almost 49 million barrels of oil a year.

Water Wasted

  • Twice as much water is used in the production of a bottle of water than the bottle contains, so each bottle of water represents three bottles used. (Pacific Institute)

Money Wasted

  • Bottled water costs 1,000 times more than tap water supplied by the Suffolk County Water Authority and other municipal water suppliers on Long Island
  • On Long Island, $1.2 billion has been spent by county, state and local governments over the past 50 years to buy and preserve 60,000 acres of farmland and open space. Most of this money has been spent with a stated goal of protecting the quality of Long Island’s drinking water.

Trash Stream Increased

  • In 2004, 86.5% of PET bottles containing non-carbonated beverages were discarded rather than recycled. (Container Recycling Institute [download pdf] citing American Plastics Council statistics.) Water bottles account for almost half of all non-carbonated beverage sold. These bottles wind up in landfills, incinerators, or littering roads, streams and parks.

Lower Standards

  • New York State water quality standards for tap water are higher than those for bottled water sold in NY. Much of the bottled water sold in the United States (e.g. Dasani and Aquafina) is simply filtered or otherwise treated tap water from municipal water systems.

Alternatives to Bottled Water

Long Island has been blessed with an abundant supply of high quality water in our aquifer system. In most areas no filtration is necessary to meet New York State's drinking water standards. Bottled water meets no higher quality standards than tap water, and the two best selling brands Aquafina and Dasani are simply municipal tap water that has been filtered.

In blind taste tests using identical glasses and temperatures, bottled waters score no higher than tap water. Often the complaints about the taste of tap water are the result of residual chlorine taste. Simply leaving a pitcher of water in your refrigerator for an hour or two will allow the small amount of chlorine to escape.

Water filters are also an option for removing unpleasant tastes and contaminants from tap water. There are many options: pitcher filters, counter-top, in refrigerator water dispensers, under-sink, and whole house filters that treat water at the point of entry to the home. For offices, bottle-less water coolers are available that provide filtered water without the cost of water delivery or the inconvenience of storing large water bottles. (Click here for more information about water filters.)

For carrying water with you, there are many choices, from travel mugs to reusable hard plastic plastic, glass and stainless steel bottles. Be sure to clean reusable bottles regularly and thoroughly to avoid bacterial contamination. There are some concerns that some plastics can leach hazardous chemicals such as Bisphenol A under cartain conditions. (For more information on the potential of plastics to leach harmful chemicals into food, you can download a fact-sheet from our page on non-toxic living) Stainless steel is light-weight, unbreakable, and chemically inert, making it a very attractive option.

Which water delivery makes sense?

 

Neighborhood Network
7180 Republic Airport, East Farmingdale, NY 11735 Tel: (631) 963-5454
Advocates for Long Island's Environment