This 8-minute video will make you think twice before buying bottled water.
True
Natural Resources Defense Council

When someone asks if you want bottled or tap water, which do you choose?

It seems like an innocuous decision — just a matter of preference. But there's actually a lot riding on that choice, according to " The Story of Bottled Water," an eight-minute video that's drawn millions of views since it was posted in 2010.


Images by Raphael Schön/Flickr and Olli Niemitalo/Wikimedia Commons.

A 2008 Nestlé advertisement in Canada infamously read, "Bottled water is the most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world."

The bold claim by the world's largest bottled water company drew the ire of environmentalists across Canada. Nestlé never proved the claim, but they sent it to print, so it must have been true, right?

Well, as "The Story of Bottled Water" notes, the energy in the oil it takes to make the plastic water bottles sold every year in the U.S. could fuel a million cars.

All GIFs from The Story of Stuff Project/YouTube.

The Pacific Institute, a water policy think tank, estimated that in 2006, bottled water production required 17 million barrels of oil and sent 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to record high global temperatures.

Since when was it "environmentally responsible" to burn huge volumes of fossil fuels?

But bottled water companies don't stop burning fossil fuels with production. There's also the fuel involved in shipping.

Michael Warhurst, who campaigned against bottled water with Friends of the Earth, a nonprofit conservation group, says bottled water transportation makes an already bad situation worse:

"It is another product we do not need. Bottled water companies are wasting resources and exacerbating climate change. Transport is the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions, and transporting water adds to that."

It's tough to know exactly how much fuel is used for shipping bottled water, but with the industry showing consistent growth, it's safe to bet its fuel needs are, too.

Bottled water also takes a toll on the global climate long after it quenches our thirst.

Up to 80% of empty water bottles end up in landfills, where waste decomposes over time, releasing methane, a potent greenhouse gas. According to the EPA, landfills are the third largest source of methane emissions in the U.S.

Discarded plastic bottles that don't meet land or sea are sometimes burned in incinerators that release more heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.


Bottom line: Nestlé was wrong.

There's no known statement on whether Nestlé woke up to the fallacy of their claims, but it is clear bottled water is far from "the most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world." And we'd all be doing the Earth a favor by avoiding it like a planet-warming plague.

NOTE: Though we reached out to Nestlé Waters North America to see if the company's perspective has shifted on the environmental impacts of bottled water, they declined to comment and instead pointed us to their sustainability page.

    Watch "The Story of Bottled Water" to learn more:

    Want to be a part of the solution? Here are a few ways to get involved:

    1. Don't buy bottled water. Get a reusable water bottle. The savings will add up.
    2. Rally your schools, workplaces, and communities to ban bottled water and other bottled beverages.
    3. Demand that your city, state, and federal governments invest in better water and recycling infrastructure — especially when it comes to how it interacts with fossil fuels.
    4. Sign this petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council to tell our world leaders to act now on climate change.

    "Thank you in advance!" — Earth

    True
    Back Market

    Between the new normal that is working from home and e-learning for students of all ages, having functional electronic devices is extremely important. But that doesn't mean needing to run out and buy the latest and greatest model. In fact, this cycle of constantly upgrading our devices to keep up with the newest technology is an incredibly dangerous habit.

    The amount of e-waste we produce each year is growing at an increasing rate, and the improper treatment and disposal of this waste is harmful to both human health and the planet.

    So what's the solution? While no one expects you to stop purchasing new phones, laptops, and other devices, what you can do is consider where you're purchasing them from and how often in order to help improve the planet for future generations.

    Keep Reading Show less

    Sir David Attenborough has one of the most recognized and beloved voices in the world. The British broadcaster and nature historian has spent most of his 94 years on Earth educating humanity about the wonders of the natural world, inspiring multiple generations to care about the planet we all call home.

    And now, Attenborough has made a new name for himself. Not only has he joined the cool kids on Instagram, he's broken the record for reaching a million followers in the shortest period. It only took four hours and 44 minutes, which is less time than it took Jennifer Aniston, who held the title before him at 5 hours and 16 minutes.

    A day later, Attenborough is sitting at a whopping 3.4 million followers. And he only has two Instagram posts so far, both of them videos. But just watch his first one and you'll see why he's attracted so many fans.

    Keep Reading Show less
    True

    $200 billion of COVID-19 recovery funding is being used to bail out fossil fuel companies. These mayors are combatting this and instead investing in green jobs and a just recovery.

    Learn more on how cities are taking action: c40.org/divest-invest


    There are very few people who have had quite as memorable a life as Arnold Schwarzenegger. His adult life has played out in four acts, with each one arguably more consequential than the last.

    And now Schwarzenegger wants to play a role in helping America, his adopted home, ensure that our 2020 election is safe, secure and available to everyone willing and able to vote.

    Shortly after immigrating to America, Schwarzenegger rose up to become the most famous bodybuilder in history, turning what was largely a sideshow attraction into a legitimate sport. He then pivoted to an acting career, becoming Hollywood's highest paid star in a run that spanned three decades.


    Keep Reading Show less

    One night in 2018, Sheila and Steve Albers took their two youngest sons out to dinner. Their 17-year-old son, John, was in a crabby mood—not an uncommon occurrence for the teen who struggled with mental health issues—so he stayed home.

    A half hour later, Sheila's started getting text messages that John wasn't safe. He had posted messages with suicidal ideations on social media and his friends had called the police to check on him. The Albers immediately raced home.

    When they got there, they were met with a surreal scene. Their minivan was in the neighbor's yard across the street. John had been shot in the driver's seat six times by a police officer who had arrived to check on him. The officer had fired two shots as the teen slowly backed the van out of the garage, then 11 more after the van spun around backward. But all the officers told the Albers was that John had "passed" and had been shot. They wouldn't find out until the next day who had shot and killed him.

    Keep Reading Show less