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It’s Easy Being Green: Ditch the Water Bottle

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At least 1.5 million barrels of oil are used every year to supply Americans with a basic commodity already available in their homes: water. The more than 1 billion pounds of carbon dioxide is emitted in order to create the 28 billion single-use plastic water bottles purchased each year in the United States. And at least 86 percent of those bottles will end up in our nation’s landfills and incinerators.

Many government officials and citizen groups are therefore trying to wean Americans off of their dependence on bottled water. Below are just a couple examples of individuals taking action by promoting awareness of bottled water’s negative effects.

Mayors taking action: Attendees at June’s U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting overwhelmingly voted to support a resolution introduced by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Salt Lake City Mayor Ross “Rocky” Anderson, and Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak that calls for a study of the waste produced by the bottle water industry.

Mayor Newsom even went a step further by stopping all government purchases of bottled water in lieu of using local tap water. He estimates that this will create millions of dollars of savings for the city of San Francisco over the next few years. The Ann Arbor, Michigan City Council passed a similar measure June 12, 2007 that stopped the use of bottled water at all government-sponsored events.

Think Outside the Bottle: Think Outside the Bottle, a campaign by the Corporate Accountability Council, is hosting a Tap Water Challenge at schools, universities, and public spaces across the country. Several college campuses have challenged their students to taste test pricey bottled water and their local tap water, and most people find they can’t tell the difference. At the event, students are encouraged to find a reusable water bottle to cut down their carbon footprint and help reduce landfill waste.

Cutting down on bottled water will keep millions of tons of plastic waste out of landfills across America. It will also reduce the more than 1 billion tons of carbon dioxide emitted during the bottled water production process each year.

Most Americans have access to clean, safe water from the tap. So the next time you leave the house, consider a readymade water bottle filled with tap water instead of buying a plastic bottle. Or think about using a home water filter on your faucet, which is less expensive than bottled water and less environmentally damaging. The environment and your wallet will thank you.

To learn more about the Center for American Progress’ policies on energy and the environment, please see:

To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:

Print: Katie Peters (economy, education, poverty, Half in Ten Education Fund)
202.741.6285 or

Print: Anne Shoup (foreign policy and national security, energy, LGBT issues, health care, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7146 or

Print: Crystal Patterson (immigration)
202.478.6350 or

Print: Madeline Meth (women's issues, Legal Progress, higher education)
202.741.6277 or

Spanish-language and ethnic media: Tanya Arditi
202.741.6258 or

TV: Lindsay Hamilton
202.483.2675 or

Radio: Chelsea Kiene
202.478.5328 or