LEAKING OUT THE FACTS BEHIND BOTTLED WATER

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At CLEAR2O®, we know that RVers appreciate the value of pure, clean water – whether it’s for cooking, cleaning, rinsing or, especially, drinking. They know that campgrounds are notorious for having poor-quality water, filled with sediment, contaminants, plastics, and other sorts of undesirable items. As RV Life describes it in an article from June 2017, “You wouldn’t take a sip out of your RV sewer hose, but connecting to some campground water supply lines could be just as disgusting and dangerous to your health.”

And while the water flowing in the streams and rivers of the backcountry may look pure, it can still be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, parasites, and other contaminants as well.

Many people turn to bottled water as an alternative, but is that really a better option? There’s no doubt that many people think so. The bottled water industry was valued at US$ 185 billion in 2015 and is expected to reach US$ 334 billion by 2023, registering a 8.5% CAGR during the forecast period 2018-2023. The answer, unfortunately, is no – on many levels.

Environmental Impact

We’re starting here because it’s truly the most eye-popping reason to ditch your bottled water. The environmental impact of single use plastics is, quite frankly, staggering. According to EarthDay.org, Americans purchase about 50 billion water bottles per year, averaging about 13 bottles per month for every person in the country. Looking at the numbers on a worldwide basis, they become even more egregious. A recent article in the magazine Fast Company notes that around the globe, people are using almost 500 billion plastic water bottles per year; that number is predicted to grow to 580 billion by 2021. And if you’re going on an extended trip in your RV and rely on bottled water, you’re going to making a significant contribution to that number.

 

And then there’s the microplastics. Experts agree that all categories of microplastics find their way into rivers and oceans where they cause serious environmental harm (more on microplastics later). Beginning in January 2022, The Plastic Pollution Act of 2020 will ensure that “some of the most common single-use plastic products that pollute our environment, cannot be recycled, and have readily available alternatives will be source reduced and phased out from sale and distribution.” That will certainly help, but we’ve got a long way to go.

Oh, and did we mention that plastic water bottles take about 450 years to decompose?

What’s in It?

Back in June, researchers from the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) found “high levels” of arsenic in bottled water sold at Whole Foods and Walmart. Some of the samples contained 18 parts per billion of arsenic - a level that exceeds the allowable limit of 10 parts per billion set by the US Food and Drug Administration. Although this is an infrequent occurrence, it should still make a consumer sit up and take notice.

But besides arsenic, recent news reports have also shown that microplastics, lead, chromium, PFAS, pharmaceuticals and other agriculture runoff are showing up in bottled drinking water. Microplastics are of particular concern. Any piece of plastic under 5 millimeters long is considered a microplastic. A report from Orb Media revealed how major bottled water brands all have tens, hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of microplastic particles floating in their products. These microparticles are typically about the same thickness as a single strand of human hair, and scientists don't know yet what gulping them down might be doing to our bodies. In fairness, it turns out, we're all drinking a bit of microplastic in our water, tap and otherwise. But experts agree: plastic bottled water drinkers have it worse.

Who’s Checking It?

According to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report from 2009, the most recent data available, about 70% of the bottled water sold in the U.S. was not subject to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation. That’s because if water is bottled and sold in the same state, as is the case for some smaller labels, it’s considered intrastate commerce and is therefore regulated by the state.

 

This isn’t necessarily a problem, as some states’ regulations are stricter than the FDA’s, but the GAO report also said these rules can be less comprehensive than those for tap water, which must comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act, administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Ultimately, tap water is tested more frequently than bottled water.

A scathing article in EcoWatch claims that “bottled water companies have relied on predatory marketing practices and exorbitant lobbying efforts to sell Americans on the inaccurate belief that pre-packaged water is cleaner and safer than tap water. In a report entitled “Take Back the Tap,” Food & Water Watch explains that 64 percent of bottled water comes from municipal tap water sources, meaning that Americans are often unknowingly paying for water that would otherwise be free or nearly free. Buying bottled water is like pouring money down the drain. Bottled water costs from $0.89 per gallon to $8.26 per gallon, compared to fractions of a penny for water from your tap. That makes bottled water thousands of times more expensive than tap water.

We’re pretty sure that all of you can figure out where we’re going with this: filtered water is the answer. It’s far less expensive, it contributes little to no waste to the environment, and it produces water that is cleaner and freer of contaminants that either bottled or tap water. At CLEAR2O®, we have a wide variety of filtration products to suit the needs of the full-time RVers, the novice, and everyone in between.

Bottled water brought convenience and the promise of purity. Now that we know the truth, let’s do better.


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