I think most people would agree that water is vitally important to good health. After all, our bodies are mainly comprised of it. And we need to replenish it frequently because it’s used by our muscles, organs and tissues and we lose water through perspiration and waste elimination. But while modern day society has embraced the concept of drinking water regularly, we have created a whole new set of problems for ourselves.
When I was a little girl, drinking water meant you needed a glass and a faucet or you used a public water fountain. Never in my wildest imagination did I think that you could actually buy a single serving size bottle of water. Later, in my teens, I was introduced to the concept of bottled water, but it was more of a status symbol than anything else.
Today, bottled water is everywhere! You can find an entire refrigerator of bottled water at the convenience store. There are vending machines dedicated to bottled water. You can even buy it by the case at your grocery store. They come in sizes ranging from “mini” to “jumbo” and you can choose whether or not you want a removable lid or a spout. Most kids today will wrinkle their noses at the mere mention of a “glass of water” from the sink and many parents steer their kids clear of public water fountains because of the germs (I am one of those parents). But while hydration is healthy and important, are we contributing to a larger problem that could severely endanger our green way of life?
According to a recent story I read in National Geographic, over 80% of plastic water bottles that we purchase end up in a landfill. That means that billions (yes, that is a B) of bottles are going to be sitting around for your great-grandchildren and their great-grandchildren. In fact, according to the National Resources Defense Council, it takes centuries for those bottles to decompose. What will happen to our green spaces if this continues?
And consider this: it takes OIL to get those bottles of water into your home! How? Millions of gallons of water are shipped to the United States each year by countries overseas. It takes a massive amount of energy to process those bottles, transport them to U.S. markets and then refrigerate them once they arrive.
While many parents realize that water is delivered right to the home for just pennies, they are concerned about contaminants in tap water. That is a valid concern. But what many parents do not realize is that bottled water is not always as safe as they have been led to believe. Cases of bottled water often sit in warehouses or other storage facilities before they are put on store shelves. These areas can be very warm, which will allow chemicals from the plastic to leach into the water itself. These chemicals, many of them phthalates, can cause health problems, especially for children.
So what is the answer? Do your own research to ensure that your city’s drinking water is being tested regularly. Our family loves the Brita water filtration system because it’s easy to use and very cost effective. You may choose to install a filter system on your kitchen faucet or use a pitcher that allows you to have cold water in your own refrigerator. For those days when you prefer to have water “on the run”, Brita has a very handy water bottle that is very transportable and filters the water as you’re drinking it. The filter is built right in and the bottle can be used over and over again.
Hydration is a necessary component to good health and water should always be the beverage of choice. But when choosing how to stay hydrated, please keep the bigger picture in mind.