A few years ago, when I started paying attention to my diet, I found that drinking at least a liter of water a day kept my brain functioning better, and in the case of two liters a day, kept me from gaining weight. Where I was living, the tap water was unpalatable, so I made a habit of stopping at the Kwik-E-Mart and buying some bottled water for the road trip and the rest of my morning.
I’ve been a fan of recycling since I was a child, so none of my bottles ever got thrown away, but they hardly ever saw a second use. What I didn’t realize (and please forgive my lateness in arriving to this party) was how many of the Earth’s natural resources went into making, filling and then shipping each bottle so that I can buy it in the morning. Let me sum up: a lot.
Some alarming statistics from Wikipedia:
- The Pacific Institute estimates that producing the bottles for American consumption in 2006 required the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil.
- Once the bottle is created and filled with water, large amounts of fossil fuel are expended delivering the water from its source to end user by means of ground transportation.
- If a container holds 1 litre it requires 3 to 5 litres of water in its manufacturing process
When people hear “petroleum,” we think “I use gas in my car”, but food costs and petroleum prices are so tightly knit. I am embarrassed that I never realized that before. If only to help reduce our dependency on oil (foreign or otherwise), I have stopped drinking bottled water.
My wife and I finally hooked up the water line to our refrigerator, which has a filter and a water dispenser (it was not an expensive refrigerator), and I started looking for a resuable mug for my water. I wanted something that could fit a liter, but I settled for the 32 oz. Eddie Bauer model in the picture over on the side. I found it at Target on one of our increasingly-consolidated shopping trips.
The mug cost about $16. The water line was at Lowe’s for $7. I imagine our water utility bill will be higher than it was, but annually, I bet I’ll still be saving money over $1.09 / day. More importantly, I’m helping reduce our need for oil. Please consider joining me in this effort.
Published or updated August 4, 2008.