The impact of bottled water on the environment is not to be understated. The number of species lost would rise by the thousands and the number of resources used would be three thousand times greater, respectively, if the whole population of Barcelona drank bottled water instead of tap water. The factors considered in this estimate are waste creation and disposal, as well as the usage of energy, chemicals, and plastic used in the production of tap or bottled water.
The cost of simply extracting the materials would further rise by $80 million (£60 million) each year if the city kept drinking bottled water. Despite recent improvements in the drinking water supply, over 60% of Barcelona’s 1.3 million residents use bottled water, going by 2016 statistics. According to the researchers, both tap water and bottled water may include chemicals that are detrimental to one’s health. One category of such chemicals is called trihalomethanes (THM), which are a byproduct of the process through which your water supply is disinfected. They are present in higher concentrations in tap water. They found that long-term exposure to THM-based tap water was related to a small but important increase in the incidence of bladder cancer.
Cristina Villanueva told The Guardian: “Health reasons don’t justify the widespread use of bottled water. Yes, strictly speaking, drinking tap water is worse for local health, but when you weigh both, what you gain from drinking bottled water is minimal.” It’s quite obvious that the environmental impacts of bottled water are higher when compared to tap water.
To make people aware of this in Barcelona, we could have more education campaigns to make the public aware that the health gains from drinking bottled water are minor compared to the environmental impacts, We also need to improve access to public water, to public fountains, to public buildings where you can bring your bottle and don’t need to buy one. We need to facilitate access to public water in public streets.