Why we SHOULDN’T stockpile bottled water

Why we SHOULDN’T stockpile bottled water

The current pandemic has us all worried. We have all experienced the shortages in stores. Some of us probably even joined the trend of stockpiling various products. We are not here to judge, just to explain why storing large amounts of bottled water is not good for us – and why it might actually harm us!


We are living in difficult times and we see that many businesses being closed or working at a reduced capacity. It is natural that we will be worried about our wellbeing. What is more crucial to our survival than water? However, the water will not stop running from your tap because of the global pandemic. Your water provider has probably already contacted you to reassure you about that. Just looking at some of the websites you can see their messages:


“We’ll be here to keep your taps flowing and toilets flushing.” Anglian Water


“We wanted to let you know what steps we’re taking (…) making sure there’s plenty of water available for everyone.” Severn Trent Water


“…we’re focused on making sure we can keep on supplying your essential water and wastewater services.” Thames Water 

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Some facts about bottled and tap water

Some of us were worried that coronavirus can contaminate water that is supplied to our households. However, this is not true. The WHO (World Health Organisation) found no evidence that the COVID-19 virus can survive in drinking-water or sewage.” [1,2] Moreover, the WHO recommends that we stay hydrated during the pandemic. It is better for us to drink tap water for many reasons:

  • It is the most sustainable – we don’t have to worry about the waste
  • It contains no sugars – it is a simple way to reduce our intake of sugar and excess calories (especially now, that we mostly sit at home!)
  • It is much cheaper than the bottled water as pouring 2 litres of tap water would cost you around a third of a penny. Even for a 0.5 litre bottled water you would pay a lot more! [3]
  • It is safer to drink and more rigorously tested
  • A single plastic bottle takes 8 litres of water to produce (!) [4]
  • It does not have a “best-before-date” as bottled water does. With bottled water you have to be careful how you store it, not to damage the bottles and then to recycle them. We also have no way of knowing how they were transported, handled and stored at different locations.
  • No plastic pollution – single use plastic is a major worldwide problem. It is estimated that 49% of beach litter are single use plastics. Moreover, plastic bottles make up one third of all plastic pollution in the sea (!!!) [5,6]
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Types of plastic

These are just a few reasons. Some people justify buying single use plastic as they say they will recycle it. There are different types of plastic used and you can see which can be recycled/reused and with what level of difficulty as you can see below. Always check the symbol on the packaging and check with your local council.

 Most commonly used plastics

 We can see worldwide that recycling is failing as there is so much plastic pollution everywhere! We might put our recyclables in the proper bin but some of still doesn’t end up in the recycling centre. Also, some try to reuse their single use plastic bottle – don’t! Those bottles get damaged trough normal use and while being washed. They can leach some harmful substances (some of them are suspected of being human carcinogens).[7]


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[1] World Health Organisation “Water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management for the COVID-19 virus”, Technical brief, 3 March 2020

[2] Coronavirus information | Help | Thames Water https://www.thameswater.co.uk/help-and-advice/coronavirus

[3] Water and health https://www.water.org.uk/advice-for-customers/water-and-health/

[4] Why Refill | Refill | 5 top reasons to join the Refill Revolution. https://refill.org.uk/about/why-refill/

[5] Seas at Risk, Single-use Plastics and the Marine Environment: https://seas-at-risk.org/images/pdf/publications/SeasAtRiskSummarysingleUseplasticandthemarineenvironment.compressed.pdf

[6] House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee Plastic bottles: Turning Back the Plastic Tide First Report of Session 2017–19

[7] How Reusing Plastic Bottles Can Pose Serious Health Hazards https://www.thoughtco.com/reusing-plastic-bottles-serious-health-hazards-1204028

About the author

Anna Strzelecka works at De Montfort University in Leicester


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