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Plastic Water Bottle Pollution: Where do all the Bottles End Up?

Plastic Water Bottle Pollution: Where do all the Bottles End Up?

Plastic water bottle pollution is worse than you think.

Here are 15 ways plastic water bottles are destroying our environment.

How bad is bad when it comes to plastic water bottle pollution?

plastic wasteland

Pretty bad. Americans buy 29 billion water bottles a year. For every six bottles people buy, only one is recycled . That leads to a big problem given the fact that water bottles do not biodegrade, but rather photodegrade. This means that it takes at least up to 1,000 years for every single bottle to decompose, leaking pollutants into our soil and water along the way. Yuck! View 30 Photos That Will Help You Appreciate Your Tap and Toilet.

As a result, U.S. landfills are overflowing with 2 million tons of discarded water bottles. And because plastics are produced with fossil fuels, not only does that make them an environmental hazard, but also an enormous waste of valuable resources.

Here are just 15 of the most dangerous ways bottled water is polluting the earth, one bottle of water at a time, as well as six things you can do about plastic water bottle pollution.

Quick Tip: Stop adding plastic to landfills today by purchasing a refillable water bottle. Learn the pros and cons of every reusable water bottle type in our free, definitive guide.

Get the guide: How to Choose the Best Water Bottle


15 ways plastic water bottle pollution is destroying the planet


Plastic water bottle production

Americans consume more than 25 percent of the planet’s natural resources. The production of bottled water uses 17 million barrels of oil a year.

  1. It takes 3 times the amount of water in a bottle of water to make it as it does to fill it.
  2. Plastic water bottles are made from a petroleum product called polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which requires giant amounts of fossil fuels to make and transport.
  3. The production of bottled water uses 17 million barrels of oil a year. That’s slightly more than it would take to fill one million cars a year with fuel.
  4. It takes almost 2,000 times the energy to manufacture a bottle of water than it does to produce tap water.
  5. If you fill a plastic water bottle so it is about 25% full, that’s about how much oil it took to make the bottle.

Plastic water bottle consumption

People in the U.S. open 1,000 bottles of water every second and put 60 million plastic water bottles in the trash each year.

  1. Every single second, 1,000 people open a bottle of water in the U.S.
  2. Each day, people in the U.S. throw away more than 60 million plastic water bottles , most of which end up in landfills or as litter in America’s streets, parks and waterways.
  3. Americans throw away 35 billion empty water bottles a year. Of those, only 12 percent are recycled.
  4. Out of everything we put in our recycle bins at home, approximately 50 percent of it is never recycled.
  5. Every person in America drinks an average of more than 30 gallons of bottled water a year. That means it takes 90 gallons of water just for one person to drink bottled water. In a world where 783 million people don’t have access to clean drinking water, that’s half of what one person would need for the entire year.
  6. Although the U.S. comprises less than 5 percent of the world’s population, we consume more than 25 percent of natural resources and produce 30 percent of the trash and pollutants. Plastic constitutes 90 percent of all of the trash floating on the ocean’s surface – approximately 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile.
  7. Each week, it takes 40,000 18-wheeler trucks on our roads just to deliver our bottled water.
  8. Americans drink more bottled water than milk or beer a year, and bottled water consumption increases by 10 percent each year.

Plastic water bottles in landfills

80 percent of plastic water bottles end up in landfills. It takes up to 1,000 years for every single bottle to decompose.

  1. 80 percent of the plastic water bottles we buy end up in landfills.
  2. U.S. landfills are overflowing with more than 2 million tons of discarded water bottles.
  3. It takes up to 1,000 years for every single bottle of water to decompose. Each bottle leaks harmful chemicals into our environment along the way as it decomposes.
  4. Studies show that the toxins decomposing bottles of water leach into our environment cause a variety of health issues , including reproductive problems and cancer.


Here’s what you can do about plastic water bottle pollution

Toss your plastic bottled water habit for good! A cultural shift can change the way plastic water bottles affect our environment.

Break your bottled water habit by filling your cabinet with 100% BPA-free, stainless steel water bottles that will not only help you improve the health of the environment, but will also be safer and better for your own health as well.

  • Ditch the habit: Make sure to stock your home with plenty of reusable stainless steel water bottles that will improve the environment and your health.
  • Purchase a water filter: Purchase a water filter to keep in your refrigerator and use it every morning to refill your reusable water bottles for the day.
  • Raise awareness: Tell your friends and family about the impact bottled water is having on our environment. Encourage your workplace to ban plastic water bottles, and educate your children about the positive impact they have on the environment when they use reusable stainless steel bottles.
  • Find alternatives: It’s not just plastic water bottles that are causing environmental harm. Try to find household items, such as soap and cleaning supplies that are in environmentally-friendly packaging.
  • Recycle: When you do use a plastic bottle, make sure that you recycle it. When you see an empty, used water bottle sitting on the street or in a park, pick it up and recycle it.
  • Use water fountains: Ask your local representative if your county can install more water fountains so people in your community can refill reusable bottles more easily.