Tap into Better Water: Water in Plastic is Wasteful and Bad for Your Health

 Lisa Kaas Boyle, Esq.  FEBRUARY 24, 2021

Walking and hiking around the Palisades, I see a lot of plastic water bottles both on the ground and on people’s porches.  The single use bottles are prevalent on the Temescal Loop trail (where I took the photo above),  along the curb of Temescal on my walk to the beach and then at the beach in the sand.  The large bottles, delivered by corporations capitalizing on people’s fear of their own tap water, sit in the sun on porches as the BPA added to harden the plastic leaches into the water.  I shake my head that many Palisadians, living close to the ocean and with no lack of access to health information, are still buying into the destructive myth that water bottled in plastic is better than the water that is delivered through our taps.

 

Environmental Health

 

I am an environmental attorney, a co-founder of Plastic Pollution Coalition  and member of Resilient Palisades, who has been working to decrease plastic pollution for most of my 30-year law career.  It’s clear that bottled water is one of the most significant sources of plastic pollution, coming in at the third most found item on beaches around the globe on International Coastal Cleanup Day after food wrappers and cigarette butts (yes, they are plastic.)

 

There is one water cycle, and we need to protect our water from climate change and pollution.  But these dangers impact all water, and bottling it in plastic only increases both climate change and pollution as plastic is a fossil fuel material. As we face water shortages, we must not waste this precious resource. It takes three times the amount of water in a bottle to bottle it.  Sadly, in the thirty years I’ve been an environmental attorney, plastic pollution has increased dramatically as fracking has made plastic so cheap that efforts to recycle it have been stymied as more costly than the virgin material.  Meanwhile, fracking  pollutes our groundwater with unregulated chemicals while single plastic has become so ubiquitous that plastic filiments are now found in our seafood and even in rainwater.

 

 

Personal Health

 

Most people know that single use plastic is terrible for the environment because  very little plastic gets recycled, while most ends up in landfills or worse yet, in our environment where it can become part of the food chain. But many people don’t know that drinking from plastic bottles may endanger our health.  Bottled water is less regulated than our tap water and studies have shown that bottled water is not safer than tap water.  The water in that Aquafina bottle (tap water bottled by PepsiCo) or more expensive water shipped from far away, doesn’t have to list ingredients.  But your LADWP water comes with a list of everything that’s in it and whether it meets EPA standards for safe drinking water (it does.)  What the bottled water contains that your tap water doesn’t is the chemicals that leach from the plastic bottle and plastic filaments from the bottling process.

 

If you want to filter your tap water to exceed standards for purity, Environmental Working Group has an excellent list of filters on its website to address every concern. Filtering your water at tap will cost you much less than buying packaged water that is less pure than tap water.  Drinking tap water not only protects the water cycle for the next generations, but it protects our health now.  So drink to your health and to the health of the planet!

 

For a deep dive into the benefits of tap water over bottled water and public policy to promote tap water, please see my article published by the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy.

 

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