Going to the fridge and grabbing a bottled water seems like a normal thing to do, but the consequences of just one water bottle are a lot more severe than what it’s worth.

Over 500 billion bottles of water are distributed yearly, and only one out of five are recycled. What does that mean exactly? To put it into perspective, a bottle of water takes 1000 years to biodegrade, meaning if it is not recycled, it will sit and pollute the environment for all of that time. Although most water bottles are made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), some are not. If you’re drinking out of a water bottle not made from polyethylene terephthalate that means your bottle of water will most likely not be recycled, but if the bottle is made from PET, the bottles will be reused.

Bottled water consumers are not the only ones at fault, but so are companies such as Nestlé Waters North America Inc. They have caused a lot of concerns for Canadians protesting the fact that it is a large corporation that bottles water from Canada’s resources, often limiting local use to the water and causing environmental strain. As well as for ethical reasons, Nestlé has also been sued for false advertising back in 2003. The company claimed that their water comes from natural springs, when in reality it is extracted from heavily treated common ground water.

But what can you do to help the war against bottled water? Easy, don’t buy them. According to Readers Digest, more than 25% of bottled water comes from tap water that is treated and purified, which is basically glorified tap water that is marked up and sold. When you buy bottled water you’re paying mostly for the plastic and label, not the actual water. But if you’re a person who doesn’t like the idea of tap water, the simple solution would be to buy a water filter. You fill up a jug of water and it filters through it. Which is the better alternative than buying a bottle of water that takes 1000 years before it biodegrades.

Grade 12 student, Phoenix Mang, had her own opinion once finding out the facts behind bottled water. “I think it’s really sad how uninformed I was, and don’t get me wrong, I do drink bottled water, but I didn’t understand the severity of it. My mom has a filter that she uses for her bottles of water, so I will probably start using that,” said Mang.

Riverside Secondary has started to reduce bottled water consumption throughout the school with the water station. There are two water stations around the school that both allow for students to put their personal water bottles under a tap and it automatically fills it. As well as that, it also counts the exact amount of bottles it has filled, putting into perspective how many students have chosen to not buy bottled water from the vending machines.

Once taking the facts into consideration, you can decide whether or not buying a bottle of water is truly worth the impact it can have on the environment.