By Bernadette Thomas
National Water Week falls in October, and this year the theme is Water: the heart of our culture. It’s an opportunity to pause and consider the role that water plays in all our lives; how we use it and what we can do to conserve it.
I’m particularly concerned about the amount of bottled water that Australians use, for both economic and environmental reasons.
According to Cool Australia (coolaustralia.org), Australians purchased over 726 million litres of water in 2015; and with the average cost of the most popular bottled water in the country at $2.75, spent up to $2billion on bottled water in the same year. Compare that to the cost of water provided directly to your home, and you could be paying thousands of times more for your water in bottles than that which comes out of the tap.
Apart from the excessive cost you are paying for bottled water, there are a number of environmental factors to consider. Water bottles are made from plastic, which is produced using oil and water. Every single PET plastic bottle takes three litres of water to produce. And for every ton of PET plastic produced, three tons of carbon dioxide is released, in production, transportation, refrigeration, recycling and disposal processes.
Most plastic water bottles are used just once and although they are recyclable, often end up in landfill (they are one of the top ten items collected by volunteers on Clean Up Australia Day). The bottles have been made more lightweight over time, making them more easily broken down into small plastic pieces that aquatic animals and birds mistake for food, ingest and inevitably die from. And then there’s the extraction process – water taken from underground aquifers, one of the most important sources of freshwater on Earth.
Tap water is safe to drink and cook with. Water retailers are regulated by the government and constantly monitor the quality of the tap water we drink to ensure that it is safe (there’s even a Safe Drinking Water Act in Victoria that guides the way water is delivered to your home), so don’t be afraid to use it at home and away from home.
It’s not all doom and gloom, because you can do something about it – Choose Tap. If you want to make sure that you can access tap water when you’re out and about, buy yourself a glass or metal drink bottle and download the Choose Tap app. That way you’ll be able to find and use tap water wherever you are across Victoria and interstate.
Download it today and you’ll be saving money and the environment one drink at a time.