Bottled Water: Urbanization and Environmental Impact
A Report by Mihir Garikiparithi
The bottled water industry has grown rapidly and continuously since its inception. However, it has been a topic of concern ever since the negative effects of plastic were discovered in 1891. The necessity of bottled water, and the waste produced by the industry, has been questioned numerous times.
One of the key factors that create a demand for bottled water is urbanization. The expansion of cities and industry has led to concerns about water pollution, despite governments promoting the cleanliness and safety of municipal water sources. Additionally, the growth of large metropolitans has caused a shift in our lifestyle. This means we are in a perpetual rush. Bottled water plays a highly utilitarian role by providing a simple solution to both these problems. The popularity of this “solution” is apparent in the $22 billion USD average annual revenue of the industry.
The bottled water industry drains huge amounts of water from local sources across the world. The volume of water commandeered by the industry is to the tune of 8.9 billion litres annually. The rapid rate at which water is drained causes massive amounts of disruption to local ecosystems. The extent of ecological damage means that it takes decades for an ecosystem affected by the industry to heal. This water is then packaged in bottles made of various plastics. Since plastics do not biodegrade easily, these bottles, unless disposed of properly, find their way to land fills, or oceanic garbage patches. Scientific estimates suggest that some of the bottles will remain in these landfills and oceanic patches for close to a thousand years. As the plastics gradually degrade, chemicals leach into the soil and wind up in the water table. This acts as an entry point into the water cycle, where the chemicals manifest as acid rain, de-oxygenated water bodies, and other similar phenomenon. In addition, the plastic debris...
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