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The ethical shopper: Bottled water

What's the real cost of that bottled water?

Believe it or not, people around the world drank 187 billion litres of bottled water in 2006. Our global appetite for bottled water more than doubled between 1997 and 2005.

While water is a healthy drink, the trend towards bottled water comes at a cost to the environment. It takes huge amounts of energy to produce plastic bottles, mostly from fossil fuels. Factor in the transportation of the water – thousands of kilometres if you're buying imported water – and the fact that much of our plastic in NZ has to be exported to Australia or China to be recycled, and that healthy portable drink can be quite costly. But you can enjoy portable water and reduce your carbon footprint:

  • Try to re-use your bought water bottles. The NZFSA says this is quite safe to do, as long as you wash and dry the bottles well in between uses. (Note: recent reports have suggested that a common plasticiser, DEHA, can leach from plastic soft drink bottles. However, the majority of plastic water and soft drink bottles in NZ do not contain DEHA, so this is not a problem here.)
  • Consider getting a custom-made water bottle and refilling it from the tap. Chilling tap water can make it taste better.
  • If you need a water fix on the go, look for brands like Good water, whose bottles are made from a renewable plant source.
  • Do you really need a plastic bottle? When you're at home or in the office, go retro and use a good old glass.

Did you know? Even in places where tap water is safe and healthy, bottled water can cost up to 10,000 times more than tap water! Some common bottled waters in NZ cost more than petrol per litre. 

First published: Dec 2007



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