Drink plenty of water is great - especially in summer. There's just one problem: the plastic bottle. In Germany, 11.5 billion liters of plastic bottles arebottled water from plastic bottles drunk - enough to fill the Berlin Olympic Stadium 9 times over. In terms of per capita consumption, we are in 4th place worldwide after Mexico, Thailand and Italy with 142 liters. And this despite the fact that we have access to clean Tap water have and everywhere Drink tap water can. Although bottled water is 250 times more expensive than tap water and even tastes demonstrably worse, we keep reaching for water from plastic bottles in the supermarket. In today's article, you can find out why tap water is the perfect alternative to plastic bottles and why water from plastic bottles is simply a brilliant marketing ploy. But today we're also answering one question in particular: Why is something packaged in plastic, which we also get for free and plastic-free from the tap?
The origin of water from plastic bottles (PET bottles)
Today, 11.5 billion liters of water are drunk from bottled plastic bottles in Germany every year. The rise of bottled water began in the 1970s. More precisely, when the first PET bottle was patented by chemist Nathaniel Wyeth. PET bottles are containers made of polyethylene terephthalate, which are produced from PET blanks using a thermal process. They are suitable for all kinds of drinks, whether water or soft drinks, sparkling or still. When Coca Cola introduced the 2-liter bottle in 1978, the PET bottle started its career worldwide. It also reached Germany in 1987. In Germany, where the deposit system now also includes plastic bottles, there are both disposable and reusable PET bottles. The latter are thicker and more stable and therefore only need to be replaced after around 20-25 returns.
Is mineral water from plastic bottles better and healthier?
No. In Germany, we are lucky enough to be able to drink our water from the tap almost without exception. The drinking water is good and tasty, which is unfortunately not always the case in other countries. We spend money on water for no good reason - although there are all kinds of good reasons to stop drinking bottled water. Manufacturers would have us believe that their water is healthier. In Germany, however, tap water is more strictly controlled than bottled water and is therefore of higher quality. The control takes place the moment the water flows from the tap into the glass. Bottled water, on the other hand, is checked before it is filled into the bottle. This means that any harmful substances that get into the water through the packaging are not taken into account in the quality check. The advertising for bottled water also suggests that the water tastes better. However, blind tests have repeatedly shown that people cannot taste the difference between bottled water and tap water.
Water in plastic bottles VS tap water
|Water from plastic bottles
|Inexpensive (up to 250 times cheaper)
|Reusable can be refilled up to 25 times
|No heavy transport (environmentally friendly because directly on site)
|Disposable bottles are directly plastic waste
|Free from plasticizers
|Complete recycling not possible
|Can be self-filled in glass or stainless steel bottles
|Plasticizer in plastic bottles are hazardous to health
|Available at any time and unlimited
|Quality control takes place BEFORE filling into plastic bottles
|Quality control after the tap water comes out of the tap
Drink tap water - save money & protect the environment
Another reason that speaks against bottled water is the price: while we pay an average of 50 cents per liter for bottled water, 1 liter of tap water costs us only 0.2 cents. Bottled water is therefore up to 250 times more expensive than tap water. Here is a list of the big Advantages of tap water compared to bottled water from plastic bottles on:
- Accessible at all times
- No transport effort
- Inexpensive (up to 250x cheaper)
- Environmentally friendly (e.g. no crude oil & no transportation routes necessary)
- German tap water (we don't buy water from Africa!!! (see Nestlé and Co.)
- Refillable free of charge (at home or on the go in cafés (refill))
- Free from plasticizers (always check the quality of the bottled water before filling)
- Plasticfree - No plastic waste (disposable bottles in particular cause damage)
- Good taste (water from plastic bottles really tastes worse)
- Did I forget something? Feel free to write me a comment
The wallet would be happy. But most of all our environment. Plastic bottles are harmful to the environment - really harmful. The production of plastic bottles is based on crude oil. For a 1 liter bottle, 100 ml of crude oil (see also the article What is plastic?) is needed. That is as much oil as is needed for 1 million cars on the road for a year. Other fossil fuels are also needed: coal and natural gas. In addition, CO2 emissions are released during the entire production process. And the bottles also travel an enormous distance before they reach the shelves of your local supermarket or the dining table. To offset the annual CO2 emissions from the production of PET bottles, we would have to plant an area 100 times the size of Saarland. The following graphic₁ provides a really good overview of the problem with water from plastic bottles.
Water from plastic bottles as a marketing ploy
Why do we call plastic bottled water one of the biggest marketing tricks of the century? Idyllic landscapes of green meadows, crystal-clear lakes or snow-capped mountains beckon on the bottles. We are happy to pay more for this because it seems to be environmentally friendly. However, the opposite is the case and the enormous environmental impact, mainly caused by long transportation routes and plastic packaging (petroleum or crude petrol), goes unmentioned.
Privatization of drinking water - How Nestlé is depriving those in need of water
For me, Nestlé is one of the most heartless and greedy corporations in the world. Nestlé has seized its great opportunity and bought water rights worldwide, including in regions that are particularly dependent on water. Nestlé now makes more than seven billion euros a year from the privatization of water sources. By bottling water in plastic bottles and presenting it as particularly healthy and even environmentally friendly. Nestlé has also struck in Ethiopia and Nigeria. Many nomads are losing their herds. People and animals are dying of thirst because they have lost access to free drinking water. And Nestlé is paying 200 dollars for around 500,000 tons of water to privatize the drinking water source.₂ One more serious reason to ditch the plastic bottle and drink tap water regularly. I will write a separate, detailed article on the subject of Nestlé's exploitation.
Water from plastic bottles - What happens afterwards?
Worldwide, 1 million plastic bottles are bought every minute. In Germany, we use 32 million bottles every day. Fortunately, plastic waste in Germany is hardly ever disposed of in landfills or incinerators.
Is recycling really an environmentally friendly solution?
In defense, it could be argued that PET bottles are deposit bottles and recyclable. That is correct. Unfortunately, the deposit bottle alone does not say much about the environmental footprint of a water bottle. A distinction must be made here between disposable and reusable bottles. Non-returnable PET bottles perform much worse due to longer transportation routes and higher raw material consumption. At the same time, sales of reusable bottles are on the decline: today, only 44% of beverage containers sold in Germany are refillable bottles. In comparison: in 2004, the proportion was still 66%. To the annoyance of Environmentalists. Unfortunately, more money can be made with disposable bottles. The recycled plastic can be easily resold. And here's the catch: only 25% of the recycled bottles are used to produce new bottles. The rest is processed into inferior products, which in turn are not always recycled
And despite options for disposal and Recycling many bottles still end up in nature, where they cause enormous damage. In Germany, about one ton of plastic ends up in the sea every minute. Plastic waste in the environment kills more than 1,000,000 marine animals every year and as a result has catastrophic consequences for the oceans and unique species.
The three coolest alternatives to the plastic bottle
I've been drinking tap water almost exclusively for a year now and always have my own drinking bottle with me, which I can have refilled almost anywhere these days. Here are my three favorites that make my plastic-free everyday life as easy as possible:
Stainless steel bottle from Klean Kanteen with bamboo closure: The bottle holds 800ml, ideal for on the go. The Drinking bottle is neither too big nor too small. The water stays cool for quite a long time. I also really like the look of this water bottle and with the ring on the lid, it can easily be strapped to the side of the rucksack and doesn't take up any space.
Soulbottles glass bottle with swing top: The 0.6 liter bottles have so many different designs, you're sure to find the right one for you. I think the Soulbottles are a really good, plastic-free alternative to drinking water from a plastic bottle. Drinking tap water made easy. Also because many of the motifs on the bottles allude to the littering of the oceans.
Ryaco glass bottle with protective cover: I recommend the 550 ml bottle especially for drinking tap water during sports. The protective cover is particularly useful if you want to drink hot drinks. If the glass bottle should fall to the ground, the protective cover means it won't break as quickly as other bottles. Like all other bottles, this one is also BPA-free.
Initiatives for less plastic waste from plastic bottles
There are already several initiatives in Germany that are committed to tap water. The initiative Refill for example, wants to make tap water accessible on the go. Participating stores and restaurants with the Refill sticker fill tap water in water bottles brought along free of charge. The concept is already established in many German cities.
Also the Berlin association a tip:tap is betting everything on tap water. Among other things, he is working on projects to equip schools with their own drinking fountains.
Are we being led around by the nose by manufacturers? Are consumers confused and assume that bottled water is automatically of higher quality? It's easy to make your life more sustainable. Take a look at this new Infographic (seen above) and say you too: No to plastic bottles!
Incidentally, as I write these lines, my refillable and always reused glass drinking bottle is standing next to me: with tap water. You should switch and drink tap water too. I look forward to your comment under this post!
PS.: Read the article Drink plenty of water every day through and learn how to easily meet your daily water requirement no matter where you are.