Nursing the Bottle

Nursing the Bottle

This is a continuation of my opinion post “Drink from the Hose and Live a Long Life”.

PlasticBottlePollution-2_027We will start with a little data compiled regarding plastic water bottles and the consumption of the contents.   One of the more intersting items listed below is, at the cost of San Fransisco’s water per gallon, it would take 10 years of refilling one water bottle before you reached the initial purchase price of that bottle of water.  I haven’t done the math, but I do have a reference to the City of San Franciso’s water department site staing the price of one gallon is 1/2 of a cent.  Interestingly enough, this is exactly the cost I derived in my “Drink from the Hose” blog for the cost of my water including waste.



Statistic Verification
Source: Drop The Prop, International
Bottled Water Association
Date Verified: 2.24.2012


Bottled Water Statistics
Total Average
plastic bottles per person annually
Total amount of all bottled water sold by Aquafina (Pepsi) and Dasani (Coke) annually 24%
Total percent of U.S. Water Bottle Market owned by Coke and Pepsi 50%
Total amount of bottled water each Coke and Pepsi sell annually 3.36 billion
Total Profit made by Coke and Pepsi each year individually $336 million
Total amount U.S. spends on bottled water annually $15 billion
Total amount of cases of water sold in the U.S. annually 2.6 billion
Total Global Water Bottle sales annually $50 billion
San Francisco’s tap water comes fromYosemite National Park and is so pure the EPA does not require it to be filtered.
Total average cost of a bottle of Evan Water $1.35
Total years it would take to have a Evan bottle refilled with San Francisco tap water before it cost $1.35 10 years
Total cost of monthly water bills if tap water cost the same as the cheapest water bottle $9,000
Distribution of Water Bottle Money
It is estimated that at a cost of $1.29 a water bottle …
Where the money goes Amount
Retailer .63c
Transportation .43c
Water Bottle Production .12c
Profit .10C

Pacific Garbage PatchI’m not going to talk about the Pacific Garbage Dump in the post since we have all heard of it.  If you haven’t, look it up.  It’s a swirling ooz of plastic in varying degree of decay about the size of Texas (size is debatable – ask your spouse).

Instead, we will look at other factors that receive less attention.  The packaging on waterWoman drink water bottles feature snowy alpine lakes, cool minimalist designs, or a person drinking the water with an implied sexual position.  Bottled water is sold to us as a fresh, healthy, and pure product. Yet in reality, when you buy a bottle of water you’re may just be buying back your local tap water at a mark-up of up to 1000 times the actual cost.  Not only is bottled water no better for you than plain old tap water, but the environmental cost of the packaging used to beautify it is a serious issue.

Bottled Water by the Numbers

To understand the sheer volume of bottles out there and how the bottled water industry is affecting the planet, it’s helpful to peek at a few statistics. The following facts are taken from the Food and Water Watch “Take Back the Tap” Report and the EPA.

  • In 2007 in the USA alone, bottled water production and transportation used the energy equivalent of 47 million barrels of oil. This is enough to fuel 1.5 million cars for a year.
  • Approximately 75% of plastic bottles are never recycled, despite being in demand by recyclers due to the high quality of plastics used.
  • Bottled water produces up to 1.5 million tons of waste each year, ending up in our landfills, oceans, and lakes.
  • It can take anywhere from 450-1000 years for a plastic bottle to biodegrade.
  • Nearly half of all bottled water in 2009 came from municipal tap water supplies.

How much Oil does is cost us?oil rig

According to an Article in National Geographic (1), we need to concider both production and transportaton.

Oil Consumption

Americans drink more bottled water than any other nation, purchasing an impressive 29 billion bottles every year. Making all the plastic for those bottles uses 17 million barrels of crude oil annually. That is equivalent to the fuel needed to keep 1 million vehicles on the road for 12 months. If you were to fill one quarter of a plastic water bottle with oil, you would be looking at roughly the amount used to produce that bottle.


Bottled water often takes a long journey to U.S. markets. In 2006 (no data for 2011, but 2011 was the highest consumption year to date), the equivalent of 2 billion half-liter bottles arrived in U.S. ports, according to the NRDC. Fiji shipped 18 million gallons of bottled water to California, releasing about 2,500 tons of transportation-related pollution. Western Europe’s shipment of bottled water to New York City that year released 3,800 tons of pollution. (See References 3, Question 7) The Earth Policy Institute estimates that the energy used to pump, process, transport and refrigerate bottled water is over 50 million barrels of oil annually.

Another article for National Geographic in 2011 states:

In 2011, total bottled water sales in the U.S. hit 9.1 billion gallons — 29.2 gallons of bottled water per person, according to sales figures from Beverage Marketing Corp.

The 2011 numbers are the highest total volume of bottled water ever sold in the U.S., and also the highest per-person volume.

Translated to the handy half-liter size Americans find so appealing, that comes to 222 bottles of water for each person in the country — four bottles of water for every man, woman and child, every week.

San Francisco Water – no filtration needed

Due to the nature of the surrounding watershed, elevation and snowmelt source, the water collected in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir does not require filtration.

Here in San Francisco, our delicious tap water comes from pristine snowmelt in Hetch Hetchy Reservoir in Yosemite National Park. Unlike bottled water, our delicious Hetch Hetchy tap water costs less than half a penny per gallon, is quality tested over 100,000 times a year, and goes straight to your tap.

Art and Reuse

With so many bottles “floating” around it’s no wonder artist are using it as a medium in their work.


Aurora Robson at work

Aurora Robson has created wonderful sculpures using discarded bottles.  I find it interesting she is using a water bottle for her mixing in the 01_CONSERVATORY_ART_CLH_JPGphoto at left.  I wonder if she reused it a second time in a sculpture.












Others are also making a statement with discarded bottles.  I tried to find the name of this artist, but could not.  If you know who he/she is, please comment and I will credit the art2











Still others are using bottles for practical purposes, which in my eye are very much still art.plastic bottle boat Plastic bottle Chandalier

 The image to the right is a chandelier made completely of bottles and recycled materials.














(1)“National Geographic”; Drinking Water: Bottled or From the Tap?; Catherine Clarke Fox; 2011


 I am no where near an expert on bottled water or the pollution caused by plastic bottles.  I have done a little research and some of the text here is taken from other sites.  Even in instances where I have reworded the content, I have referenced where the information came from if it was available.  If you believe your original content is contained in this blog without a reference or link-back, please leave a comment and I will either reference it or remove it if requested.


Categories: Opinions

1 Comment

  • admin says:

    Very Fair. You obviously dug deeper in the “research” than I did.

    Fracking sounds good, but I think I will stick to something I fracking know about.