New Study Shows Bottled Water Is 3,500 Times More Environmentally Harmful Than Tap Water

It’s no secret that bottled water is bad for the environment, but just how bad is it? A new study shows it may be worse than many of us realized.

According to a study published in Science Direct, bottled water is 3,500 times more harmful to the environment than tap water.

The number was determined by assessing the processes of extracting the raw materials to make the water bottles, manufacturing the bottles, distributing them, disposing of them, and everything in between.

Photo: Max Pixel

The study, conducted by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), researchers discovered that in Barcelona, where 60% of people drink bottled water, making each bottle uses three times the amount of water as the bottle actually holds.

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They further discovered that if the entire population switched to drinking bottled water exclusively, the necessary production would kill nearly 1.5 species per year and cost more than $83 million.


Despite the fact that most people know bottled water isn’t environmentally friendly, its popularity continues to rise. Americans purchased 15 billion gallons of bottled water in 2020 alone, making it one of the country’s most popular beverages.

The popularity of bottled water is actually growing around the world and contributing to the use of unnecessary resources as a result. According to EuroNews, the amount of oil used to produce plastic water bottles in America alone is enough to power 100,000 homes.

Photo: Max Pixel

It seems a contributing factor to the increase in popularity, is that many people distrust local water sources or tap water. Drinking bottled water feels safer to many, though that safety may not be grounded in much.

Cristina Villanueva, head of ISGlobal’s Water Pollution Programme, shared that “tap water has to meet strict standards, which means we can drink it with some confidence. The standards for bottled water, on the other hand, are much more lax. Producers of bottled water are not obliged to monitor anywhere near the same number of chemical compounds as are monitored in tap water.”

Photo: Piqsels

With global warming contributing to intense heat waves around the world, it’s important that we each do our part in making a difference. Swapping plastic water bottles for tap water can be an easy, safe swap that has a lasting impact.

If you’re unsure about your local tap water, you can invest in a filtering system, which can also improve taste.

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