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By Rachel Geyer
Water makes our world go round, so we must protect our waterways as best we can. In modern industrial practices, drinking water contamination is a common and valid concern. Bottled water companies argue that because of this, their water is much safer than tap water, but U.S. tap water is considered some of the cleanest, safest drinking water in the world.
Of course, there are many places, like Flint, Michigan, where drinking water has been contaminated, so filters and bottled water are the safest options — but if you’re not living in one of these places, you can opt for more sustainable practices.
Carbonated water has been around for centuries, but in the past decade, we’ve seen plenty of new sparkling water brands pop up. It’s a drink that’s taken the world by storm, but what’s the most sustainable way to enjoy this beverage?
Like most products, avoiding plastic in your beverages is a good place to start when shopping sustainably. Luckily, many carbonated water brands package their drinks in aluminum cans. Plastic and aluminum are both recyclable, but aluminum is much easier to recycle. Instead of mining more aluminum, it can be easily turned into new cans whereas plastics are easier to produce than recycle. Unlike aluminum, plastics are not natural to the environment and can persist for hundreds of years, slowly decomposing into tiny particles known as microplastics. Plastics threaten all ecosystems and human health, so we should try to minimize our use of them as much as possible.
Aluminum cans are the better choice, but they could still have BPA liners. BPA is an industrial chemical used in many plastics and is often used to coat the inside of cans. There has been some controversy over whether BPA is safe, but links have been made to a few health problems, so it may be best to avoid them.
Water sourcing is another issue for sustainability. It takes a lot of energy to transport materials, especially water. It’s best to buy sparkling water that is domestically sourced. San Pelligrino is a fan favorite, but this product has to be transported thousands of miles to be bought by American consumers. The less distance a product travels, the smaller its carbon footprint.
A fantastic solution to these problems is to simply make your own sparkling water! You may have heard of SodaStream, but there are several companies out there selling DIY carbonation machines. You can minimize waste by using the same carbonation bottle over and over and customize the water to your liking. And best of all — the water is sourced directly from your sink!
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