Debate: Should the sale of plastic bottled water be banned?

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Round 1

Side 1: Bottled water may seem like a great beverage option, but roughly 70 percent of them end up in landfills or as litter. They are one of the most common waste items found in the ocean, which is horrible for the plants and animals living there. Plus, since plastic requires oil in its production, it takes millions of barrels of oil to produce enough bottles for the entire U.S. for one year. That’s a lot of wasted oil, which has its own environmental issues to deal with. It’s also less expensive to use water fountains and other tap options. Buying bottled water for a couple bucks per 8-12 ounces is not exactly the best use of your money. A reusable bottle makes it convenient and cheaper and doesn’t leave nearly as much waste or take as many resources to make. All things considered, bottled water is a really good candidate to get rid of.

Side2: Yeah, it’s horrible that so many bottles end up in landfills or as litter, but that doesn’t mean that bottled water doesn’t serve an important purpose. Think about shops and fast food places that only serve bottled beverages. If there was no bottled water, customers would be reduced to choosing from much less healthy options, like soda or really sugary teas and coffees. The customers are far more likely to choose one of the unhealthy options than they are to choose tap water. These items also typically have plastic containers, but, even though they have deposits in some states, there’s not an easy way to reuse those bottles and they’re just as popular. So why ban the one and not the other? Also, by banning bottled water, small businesses may be at a disadvantage compared to larger businesses. They may not have an appealing tap water option but they could have offered bottled water, while the larger businesses may have water coolers or soda fountains with a water option to choose from. If a person is very determined to have just water, they’re not going to stay at a smaller business.

Round 2

Side 1: Bottled water is also important because of health and safety concerns. What about areas that might not have safe tap water to drink? Bottled water is much safer, even if it is more expensive. Would you rather the 10-30 dollars a week for water or the hundreds of dollars in hospital bills or meds because you got sick from bad tap water? Not only can tap water be kinda sketchy sometimes, what happens when there is no tap water at all? This happens quite a bit during emergency situations. If there is a hurricane, flood, fire, earthquake or tornado, the infrastructure of an area can be completely disrupted or destroyed. This leaves emergency personnel and the people they’re helping without water and other amenities so they have to rely on things like bottled water to survive. We can’t just replace those with reusable bottles since there’s nothing to fill them with, and it’s just impractical to ship reusable bottles back and forth to use and refill them. If it comes down to plastic waste or health issues, maybe we ought to be encouraging better recycling habits than anything else.

Side 2: Granted, in cases of emergency, bottled water is super important, but outside of that, it’s typically healthier to drink tap water. When it comes down to a comparison between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which tests bottled water, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which tests tap water, the latter is much more stringent with testing for contamination and health issues. Plus, since companies that sell bottled water tend to drain local water supplies, what’s really happening is that communities that really need the water are losing it to people who are only out to gain more money. That’s not healthy for the community or the local environment either. As for recycling habits, there are plenty of recycling places that simply dump their recycling in landfills in poorer countries who can’t protest. Creating a good recycling habit needs to include more reusing and repurposing and less “recycling.” It also needs to include more reducing, which (guess what?!) means fewer bottles in whatever way we can make it work, especially for relatively straightforward items like reusable water bottles.