I was walking through Newcastle, in the Hunter region of NSW, a few weeks ago with my two brothers and my nieces and nephews. My brother, as he usually does, was carrying a glass bottle that he uses to refill water rather than waste money on buying it. He also lives in a small town where caring for the environment and sustainability is at the top of the agenda. After we walked around for quite some time with no taps in sight, no water filling stations, no bubblers or anything for that matter, we came to the conclusion that something needs to be done. What I have since found out is that this whole plastic water bottle thing is down-right crazy, unbelievable and baffling.

Don't you think it is ridiculous to pay 1,000 times the cost for anything? The average cost of a litre of tap water in Australia is .001¢ compared to $2.83 for a litre of bottled water. But still Australians spend over $500 million on bottled water each year. You know you can get water for free right? The monetary aspect is just the start of the whole water bottle craziness that has consumed the western world.  

200 billion litres of bottled water is consumed worldwide worth an estimated $100 billion dollars. Approximately 52 million litres of oil is used in Australia each year to produce PET plastic for water bottles. The whole process of pumping it from the ground, the packaging and transportation creates over 60,000 tons of greenhouses gases a year in Australia alone. Bottled water production makes 600 times more CO2 than tap water and one bottle of water has the same impact on our environment as driving a car 1km. Compare this to the fact that tap water has 1 per cent the environmental impact of bottled water and the fact it takes seven litres of water to make a one litre water bottle and you can start to see how bottled water is killing the environment, literally.

Bottled water generates an enormous amount of waste that is ending up in landfill and our environment every single day. Our biggest killer in the oceans are not sharks, but plastic. Almost 90% of the marine debris found on Sydney’s beaches is plastic, mostly bottles, caps and straws. We think we are doing a great job at recycling our plastic bottles by putting our coloured bins out each week but out of all plastic bottles only about 30% are actually recycled. The majority end up in landfill and take up to 1000 years to break down.

You might be thinking this doesn't affect you. So far it's only killing the environment, the ecosystem, the entire planet and costing me some loose change. Wrong, plastic is photodegrable, meaning it breaks into increasingly smaller pieces and entersthe food chain, it also releases a chemical called BPA, which is found in 93% of Americans bodies and is linked to prostate and breast cancers, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and learning and memory disorders amongst a host of other things.

This is truly a global problem. It's completely unnecessary and tremendously unsustainable. Once again we have managed to create a deadly, unacceptable cycle that risks completely ruining the future world for our kids. But there are many, many things we can do to help turn this around and thankfully there is a growing movement from Paris to San Francisco and Melbourne to Bundanoon, Australia’s first bottled water free town.

What can you do about it?

The best thing to do is to avoid bottled water and head back to the tap. Buy and carry your own reusable bottle and simply refill it, save money, reduce plastic waste and help reduce oil consumption. Tap water is cheaper, better for the environment, and tastes just as good.

Ask your local council to install water fountains and filling stations to allow people to refill reusable bottles instead of having to walk all over town. The more accessible and clearly marked water stations the easier it is to grow the movement and put a stop to this crazy water bottle addiction we find ourselves in.

If we need to let's follow the lead of some places and put a concrete ban on bottled water and challenge people to bring a reusable container to the tap instead. Bundanoon does not sell bottled water and instead have installed bubblers and bottle fill stations around the town and the school. Bundanoon is showing how easy it is to live without single use bottled water.

Really for a society that is hyped up on the latest technological innovations and has their fingers on the pulse of almost unlimited information pools, we are not very intelligent. We are paying for something we can get for free and paying for something that is killing us and everything around us. Someone is laughing.... Let's stop them and fast.....

The Happiness Compass has an avowed commitment towards the goal of environmental sustainability and is proud to launch our latest project - The "Head Back To The Tap" Initiative.