Canada has lots of fresh, clean water – so much that many people don’t think much about saving water. It’s true we have plenty of water, but we should try to reduce our water consumption because of the huge amount of energy that is used to provide us with clean water. There are a few things you can think about when it comes to water.
To start with, the water in our taps in Montreal is safe for everyone to drink. It is filtered and chlorinated (the chemical Cl is added) by the City of Montreal. So, it is absolutely not necessary to buy bottles of water, though consumers spend over $100 billion a year on bottled water.
Why is bottled water an environmental problem? Well, first, millions of plastic bottles are thrown away in the garbage every day. In fact, 86% of the water bottles in the U.S. become garbage. Even if those bottles are recycled, lots of oil was used to make the bottles, and lots of energy is needed to recycle them. Also, the companies that bottle the water use a lot of energy to prepare them and transport them.
There is no health benefit to drinking bottled water compared to drinking tap water. The only difference is taste. At home, you can buy an inexpensive water filter if you want to have water that tastes better than tap water. At school, you can bring your own bottle of filtered tap water with you, but the drinking fountains a school give clean, cold water that is perfectly safe to drink.
If you must buy bottled water, try to reuse the bottles and at least recycle them in the blue boxes.
Another important thing to think about water is what happens to after you use it. When you wash your dishes or clothes, the detergent (soap) you use can have bad effects on the environment. Try to choose a detergent that is biodegradable and phosphate-free which means it breaks down quickly in the environment and doesn’t contain phosphates (-PO4).
Phosphates are used in soaps and detergents to help them work, but there are other ways to make these products work well. The problem with phosphates is that too much in the water causes algae (tiny green plants in the water) to bloom too much. Too much algae kills other plants and fish in the lakes, rivers and oceans. You can choose to buy a soap or detergent with no phosphates and help protect our waters.