Our World Bottled up in Gasses

This MindMap goes deep into answering the question of "what impact does bottled water have on the environment?"

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Our World Bottled up in Gasses by Mind Map: Our World Bottled up in Gasses

1. Is Bottled Water Better Than Tap Water? (You choose...)

1.1. Tap water is regulated to higher standards

1.1.1. Vaughan’s tap water is tested more than 1,800 times per year by the City’s Certified Water Operators, receiving perfect scores of 100 percent after recent inspections by the Ministry of the Environment. This is in comparison to bottled water which is not regulated to the same standards as municipally supplied tap water.

1.2. Tap water is more cost affective, and waste free

1.2.1. In addition it also creates waste that needs to be recycled, and can cost up to $4 a litre, making it up to 3,000 times more costly than tap water. Overall citizens are paying more for water that may be equally or less good than that of which their city has already supplied them with. And why? Well because water companies have been filling consumers minds with the idea that tap water isn’t safe to drink and that bottled water is the best alternative. But the administratives, and councilors of Vaughan have the power to make their citizens aware of the issue and help them make any educated decision on how to move forward towards a better, more sustainable future.

1.3. Tap water requires less energy for distribution

1.3.1. Producing and transporting bottled water uses up to 2,000 times the energy required to produce and distribute tap water.

2. What is the enviornmental impact of bottled water?

2.1. Crude Oil

2.1.1. Crude oil has a negative impact on the environment as the process of fracking is most commonly used to obtain this petroleum form. This requires land clearing causing the deforestation of boreal landscapes, habitat loss for many animals, it increases the likelihood of water pollution through contaminant leaks from tailing ponds, and lastly causes air pollution, and may cause earthquakes due to the high pressure used to extract oil and gas from rock.

2.2. Water

2.2.1. In 2013, Canadians purchased 2.4 billion litres of bottled water, making the total consumption 7.2 billion litres. It already is a challenge for people to gain access to clean, freshwater as only 2.5% of water on earth is freshwater and out of that only 1% is accessible, so using this much and also depleting water levels like that of lake Athabasca for fracking puts an even bigger strain on this crucial resource.

2.3. PET (Poly-Ethylene Terephthalate)

2.3.1. The PET containing plastics from which water bottles are made are recyclable but not biodegradable. Instead they photodegrade , which is a process in which the plastic breaks down into smaller pieces known as nurdles when exposed to direct sunlight. Now when these plastic water bottles end up in the ocean and they undergo this process, since it's toxic, when consumed by the marine wildlife it poisons them and their consumer which can result in their deaths. So considering the fact that fish account for 16% of animal protein consumed by humans you can see how their deaths might affect individuals who eat fish including those in Vaughan as ocean fishing accounts for 80% of the world fish catch. The manufacture of every ton of PET produces around 3 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). Bottling water thus created more than 2.5 million tons of CO2 in 2006. This continues to add to the CO2 already found in the atmosphere further contributing to "the greenhouse affect." This furthers the plant into global warming as more CO2 in the atmosphere, means more radiation remaining, overall causing the earth to warm, and in this case more than it needs to. As a result it causes the melting of ice caps, more frequent wildfires and tropical storms as well as droughts in some parts of the world. Plastic water bottles can also contaminate water bodies like lakes and rivers if they end up in landfills that are located nearby as the water can absorb contaminants from the plastic when photodegrading, polluting it.

2.4. Electricity (Energy Source)

2.4.1. Nonrenewable energy makes up 85% of the energy used on earth, making it a primary source. So the probability that it's also being used in the manufacturing of bottled water is quite high. Considering that fossil fuels are nonrenewable, once consumed they are irreplaceable, and at the current rates of production it's believed that, oil will run out in 53 years, natural gas in 54, and coal in 110. But with bottled water there is no point of wasting this resource as tap water makes for a higher quality, more affordable, and sustainable source of water.

3. What resources go into the manufacturing of bottled water?

3.1. Crude Oil

3.1.1. It takes roughly the equivalent of one-quarter of a bottle of oil to produce and transport each bottle of water to stores, and the overall production of water bottles uses 17 million barrels of oil a year.

3.2. Water

3.2.1. It takes manufacturers up to 3 litres of water to make 1 litre of bottled water if you factor in the amount of water needed to make the plastic bottle to contain it.

3.3. PET (Poly-Ethylene Terephthalate)

3.3.1. 50 grams of PET is required to make a single water bottle even with the plastic top included.

3.4. Electricity (Energy Source)

3.4.1. According to the plastics manufacturing industry, it takes around 3.4 megajoules of energy to make a typical one-liter plastic bottle, cap, and packaging. Making enough plastic to bottle 31.2 billion liters of water required more than 106 billion megajoules of energy.

4. What do people need?

4.1. What the people of Vaughan really need is a taste of reality and how purchasing bottled water and then on top of that not recycling it is affecting their surrounding environment and in turn them and the future generations. So if schools, educators, and influencers could take a day to talk and educate people on the difference that they as individuals can make by properly recycling or just avoiding the purchase of bottled water all together it could be really impactful.

5. What can be done to locally address this issue?

5.1. For every pound of recycled PET flake used, energy use is reduced by 84%; greenhouse gas emission by 71%. However the Polaris Institute, a non-profit organization that “challenges the influence of corporations on government and public policy”, estimates only 14 percent are making it to recycling facilities in Ontario each year. So if you think about it, because Vaughan has its own environmental sustainability team they can potentially start a campaign to promote recycling water bottles so that at least we can contribute to our own community’s change in the fight against climate change, and resource sustainability.

6. What is the local impact of bottled water? (Vaughan)

6.1. Although we might not always be aware of the statistics doesn't mean there isn't an issue. I've walked through parks, on trails, and just around the Vaughan community in general and I'm sure you too have seen trash laying around on the grass, one of which includes plastic water bottles. Now not only does that show disrespect through littering but by not recycling, the opportunity for resources to be saved, and reused is being denied, having a direct impact on the environment as they then tend to end up in landfills.