Microplastics are degraded plastic particles measuring less than five millimeters long. It is estimated that humans are ingesting up to 0.5 grams of microplastics through food and water per week, and sadly, they are turning up everywhere on Earth, from the planet’s highest mountains to its deepest seafloors. Image: Erlantz Pérez Rodríguez/iStock.

It’s true: Plastic water bottles have negative environmental impacts, some of which include groundwater depletion, controversy over water rights ownership, and the plastic container itself. According to a report from the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health published earlier this year, 85% of plastic water bottles become waste—as opposed to being recycled—and over 600 billion bottles were produced in 2021 alone. Most bottles aren’t recycled, and far too many litter the land, get blown into waterways and the ocean, and break down into microplastics that have been found in the farthest reaches of the planet.

With all its faults, bottled water isn’t going anywhere. Convenience, functionality for transport and storage, and improved access to clean water makes bottled water one of the fastest-growing industries in the world with a 25% market share of the $1.225 billion global beverage industry. In addition, water is an essential element of emergency preparedness in earthquake-prone Southern California. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends having one gallon of water per day per person stored in your household, and at least two weeks’ worth, if possible, in case of a natural disaster.

While plastic water bottles continue to be a dangerous problem, what can we do? Practice the three Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) by minimizing the use of non recycled petroleum-based plastics, exploring creative ways to upcycle plastic bottles, and diligently participating in the multifaceted effort to recycle plastics. Our purchasing power does the most good, so here’s a distilled list of local businesses that help address these issues.


If you can’t stand the idea of wrapping your lips around plastic, Jimbo’s offers shoppers a glass-bottles-only selection as one of the grocer’s aggressive plastic-free sustainability initiatives.

» jimbos.com


Natural alkaline water might sound like a luxury, but this water bottler maintains an effort to keep their well supply available at an affordable price. It’s a big draw for health enthusiasts seeking the benefits of alkaline water, which offers a cleaner taste and improved hydration because it’s less acidic with a higher pH value compared to tap.

» carlsbadalkalinewater.com


A lot of thought went into developing the square-shaped Solar Rain water bottle that uses less packing material and maximizes space, making the efficient shape one of a few advanced sustainable features this watery has to offer. Although it’s made of plastic, the PET #1 bottles are not only reusable and recyclable, but a special additive helps them biodegrade within five years should they find their way to a landfill. The unique hydrologic cycle Solar Rain uses to remove impurities from ocean-sourced water and local municipal tap-sourced water provides a noticeably crisp, refreshing taste.

» solarrainwatery.com


The green appeal of Surfwater is the reusable BPA-free aluminum bottle. Aluminum waste is recycled at a rate of 75% and requires less time to turn into a new product compared to plastic counterparts.

» surfwater.com


Conveniently located in the Westfield Mission Valley parking lot, One Earth Recycling pays cash for recycling beverage bottles and aluminum cans. They also offer responsible recycling of electronic items and scrap metals and incentives for families and children to participate.

» oneearthrecycling.com

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About the Contributor
Maria Hesse
Edible San Diego's executive editor is a personal chef and lifestyle designer, podcaster on Modern Casserole, amateur pug photographer, grant writer for Media Arts Center San Diego, and co-author of The Intentionalist Cooks. Find her on Instagram @mariafromediblesd.