Take Back the Tap

Choosing tap water over bottled water may seem like a simple choice: tap water costs much less, is safer, and often tastes just as good, if not better. Nonetheless, many people continue to buy bottled water, whether out of convenience or preference.

There are numerous environmental concerns with bottled water: the production and consumption of bottled water consumes energy, pollutes the environment, and contributes to global warming. Producing the plastic bottles uses energy and emits toxic chemicals.environmental implications of bottled waterTransporting the bottled water across hundreds or thousands of miles spews carbon dioxide into the air, complicating our efforts to combat global climate change. And in the end, empty bottles are piling up in landfills.

  • Plastic bottle production in the United States annually requires about 17.6 million barrels of oil.
  • Worldwide bottling of water uses about 2.7 million tons of plastic each year.
  • About 86 percent of empty plastic water bottles in the United States land in the garbage instead of being recycled. That amounts to about two million tons of PET plastic bottles piling up in U.S. landfills each year.
  • Many plastic bottles of all types and sizes will be incinerated, which releases toxic byproducts such as chlorine gas and ash laden with heavy metals.
  • Manufacturing the 28.6 billion PET water bottles in the United States takes the equivalent of 17.6 million barrels of oil.
Bottled water also has significant social implications for communities. Not only does bottled water contribute to a global lack of drinking water, it also causes local inaccessibility to water. In privatizing water, bottling corporations limit access to an essential resource that many believe should always be public.  

At Duke University, the student-run Take Back the Tap Campaign aims to make tap water more readily available on campus, to change students’ perceptions about drinking water, and, ultimately, to eliminate bottled water sales on campus.  The Environmental Alliance began its Take Back the Tap campaign in the spring of 2009 with a series of taste tests on The Plaza. During the summer of 2009, they tested Duke's tap water from several sources and found it to be free of eight common contaminants.  For more information and to get involved contact Peter Heisler.

Report a problem with a water fountain or faucet on campus.

Information, facts and image courtesy of Take Back the Tap.