March 24, 2014

Bottled Water vs. Tap Water: Rethinking how we Drink. ~ Brook Stableford {Video}

athlete drinking water after exercising

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated. ~ Confucius

Would you pay over $9,000 for a sandwich? Probably not. But, that’s the equivalent to paying $0.95 for a single 16.9oz (500 mL) bottle of water, which works out to $7.50 a gallon. This is about twice the price of gasoline, and tap water costs about .4 cents per gallon.

What about water quality? Bottled water is safer than tap water, right? That’s what bottled water companies like Nestle, Coca Cola and Pepsi would like you to think.

The Environmental Protection Agency, via the Safe Drinking Water Act, requires municipal water providers to have their water tested by certified laboratories and violations must be reported. They must also provide reports to their customers reporting the source of the water, evidence of contaminants and compliance with regulations.

In contrast, bottled water is regulated as food by the Food and Drug Administration which does not require certified lab testing nor reporting of violations and does not require reporting of the water’s origin, treatment, nor contaminants. You can read a label and still not know if it is pure spring water or processed tap water. Sketchy!

What about chlorine and fluoride in tap water? I’m no fan of either, and am considering a filter. (Many, but not all, municipalities fluoridate their water.) Unfortunately, removing fluoride requires expensive reverse osmosis which wastes three to four gallons of water for each gallon it produces, and minerals must be replaced.

Are plastic water bottles themselves safe? Plastic bottles leach plasticizers, which make plastics flexible and mimic estrogen in our bodies, into the water. Also, it was released in March, 2014 that BPA-free plastic may be worse for us than plastic containing BPA. Their production and disposal create a large amount of pollution, and most are not recycled. Consider avoiding it altogether and using a stainless steel or glass water bottle.

Many in-home water purification systems are available if a water supply or building plumbing is in question. Cost? For $80, one can buy a pitcher and replacement filters for a year. The same $80 would buy 11 gallons at the 16.9 oz (500 mL) single bottle price, or 27 gallons if one bought 2.5 gallon jugs of water.

So, is bottled water a solution to drinking water quality concerns, or a misleading, overpriced product? This fun and engaging short video by the Story of Stuff Project tells us what’s really going on. Check it out!


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Editorial Assistant: Melissa Horton / Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: elephant archives

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