Still Drinking Water from Disposable Plastic Bottles? Why You Should Stop TODAY
As runners, we understand the importance of proper hydration. From regulating body temperature, lubricating joints and preventing constipation, through to aiding the transport of nutrients and oxygen to the cells, there’s no denying the vital role of water in our daily functioning.
And while paying attention to water intake is commendable, on-the-go lifestyles have turned this good intention into a global headache. How so, you ask? Well, it is estimated that approximately 1 million disposable plastic bottles are purchased per minute around the world. That’s almost 20,000 bottles per second. And while the environmental impact of this trend isn’t too hard to imagine, recent research findings also warn us of its potential impact on our health.
So if, like millions of other earthlings, you’re still happily guzzling water from disposable plastic bottles, here’s why you need to stop. Today.
Reasons to ditch disposable plastic bottles for good
1. Health concerns
BPA, or bisphenol A, commonly occurs in disposable plastic bottles. Also dubbed “synthetic oestrogen”, BPA can, at the right dose, bind to oestrogen- and other related receptors, thereby disrupting hormone function. And while the results from (mostly animal-) studies are currently contradictory at best, some studies have shown both developmental and functional abnormality in rodents at BPA levels far below those commonly found in humans.
As far as human epidemiological studies go, a lot still needs to be done. But at least some progress has been made. To date, links between BPA exposure and cardiovascular disease, liver enzyme abnormalities and raised testosterone concentrations in men have been reported.
2. Environmental concerns
The negative impact of disposable plastic bottles on the environment is enormous. And if you’re thinking that recycling initiatives should be significantly buffering this impact, you’d be wrong. Because while most disposable plastic water bottles are made from highly recyclable polyethylene terephthalate, or Pet, global recycling efforts are simply not keeping up. Less than half of the disposable plastic bottles bought in 2016 were collected for recycling, while a mere 7% were transformed into new bottles. And that’s 7% of 480 billion plastic bottles, in case you were wondering.
The result? Billions of disposable plastic bottles end up in our landfills and oceans each year. In fact, a purported 5 to 13 million tonnes of plastic finds its way into our oceans annually. A rate that representatives of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation believe will leave us with more plastic by weight than fish in the oceans by 2050. Staggering statistics indeed.
And while this crisis is wreaking havoc on marine biodiversity, ecosystems, and habitats, it’s coming back to bite landlubbers too. In a 2014 study, a team from Ghent University calculated that European shellfish consumers may be exposed to 11,000 microplastics that find its way into the human food chain each year. A phenomenon that may, ultimately, potentially pose a threat to food safety. Another study, this time lead by a team from Plymouth University, confirmed this trend by reporting that plastic can now be found in a third of the fish caught off the south-west coast of England.
And, overwhelming as this may seem, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Because in addition to contributing to marine pollution and causing plastics to find its way into the human food chain, bottled water is also purportedly costing a whopping 50 million barrels of oil per year to process, transport and refrigerate. A figure that excludes the 17 million barrels of oil that are required in the production of disposable plastic bottles each year.
3. Financial considerations
And if this still isn’t enough to make you change your ways, consider its impact on your pocket. The production of bottled water costs as much as 2,000 times as much energy as the production of normal tap water. Which means that, depending on the brand, bottled water can cost as much as 300 to 2,000 times as much as tap water. In fact, it was estimated in 2015 that the monthly water bill for an average American household could add up to US$9,000 if bottled water were to be used for all functions requiring water (including dishwashing, showers, watering the garden, etc.). The bottom line? Do your budget a favor and forget about buying bottled water.
Tips for going plastic-free
Yes, we get it. Old habits die hard. So here are some tips to help you kick the habit:
- Vote with your dollars. Stop purchasing (plastic) bottled water. Today.
- If you’re unsure about the quality of tap water in your area, install a home filtration system for extra peace of mind.
- Buy and use a reusable glass or stainless steel drink bottle. And make it a habit to fill it up at home and carry it with you everywhere you go, especially when traveling.
- Advocate for public water bottle filling stations that provide clean, filtered water at no cost. Take this up with your favorite eatery, your employer and the fuel station across the road.
- Spread the word. Raise awareness of this issue among your family members, friends, co-workers and running club mates. And then set a good example.
- Support plastic-free initiatives where you can.
You can make a difference
A thought-provoking meme is currently doing the rounds on social media. It goes something like this: “It’s only one plastic bottle. Said 7 billion people.” So don’t ever feel that your contribution is too small to make a difference. Do the right thing and stop buying disposable plastic bottles. Today.
- Why you should never buy disposable water bottles again, Online publication, Jan 20, 2015 ,
- A million bottles a minute: world's plastic binge 'as dangerous as climate change', Online publication, Jun 28, 2017 ,
- Functions of water in the body, Online publication, ,
- Microplastics in bivalves cultured for human consumption, Scientific publication, Oct 01, 2014 ,
- One-third of fish caught in Channel have plastic contamination, study shows, Online publication, Jan 24, 2013 ,
- Bisphenol A is everywhere – is it safe?, Online publication, Oct 20, 2010 ,
- Daily Bisphenol A Excretion and Associations with Sex Hormone Concentrations: Results from the InCHIANTI Adult Population Study, Scientific journal, Nov 01, 2010 ,