Categories: Green

Rethinking What You Drink: Bottled Water Vs. Tap Water

Water is essential for life. It is clean, refreshing, and critical for maintaining health and body functions such as temperature regulation, joint lubrication, and eliminating waste. Without an adequate amount of water, dehydration occurs, which results in cramping and muscle weakness as well as increased risks of heatstroke or heat exhaustion.

WebMD reports that the old adage of eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily is a little outdated. Instead, women need to drink 91 ounces of water per day and men need to drink 125 ounces of water daily. Those numbers will increase, though, if you engage in rigorous physical activity, are experiencing illnesses, or when the temperatures soar.

The real question weighing on the minds of many, though, is not how much water you should drink each day, but where that water should come from. The debate about bottled water vs. tap water is a long one and there are passionate voices on both sides of the debate.

These are a few thoughts that should help you draw your own conclusions about which is the right choice for you, your family, the planet, and the lifestyle you want to lead. But first, a few facts.

Facts about Bottled Water Consumption in the U.S.

The following facts are real eye openers when it comes to the scope of the potential problems posed by bottled water consumption in the U.S.

  • In 2006 U.S. residents consumed more than eight billion gallons of bottled water.
  • U.S. residents consume approximately 21 gallons or 79 liters of bottled water per person per year.
  • U.S. consumers go through 50 billion bottles of water each year, most of these bottles are not recycled.
  • Federal guidelines require that tap water is tested for more than 100 compounds every day.
  • Many bottles of water you purchase, including big brands like Dasani, are tap water that has gone through some sort of filtering or purification process.

Is Bottled Water Safer than Tap Water?

Many people are operating under the misguided impression that bottled water is somehow safer to drink than tap water. An ABC news report reveals that this is simply not the case. In fact, water goes through much more rigorous, government mandated testing than bottled water, on a daily basis to ensure that the water is safe. All U.S. water companies are required to create a water quality report, and make it available to their customers each year.

One thing that surprises many consumers is that doctors are beginning to recommend against bottled water in many situations. The reason is the potential for “bacterial overgrowth in bottled water,” according to Scientific American. Then there are the bottles themselves as some may contain BPA which is believed to be harmful for health and the planet.

Another ABC News article reports on a study determining that bottled water is no safer than tap water in the U.S. despite the fact that it often costs up to 1,000 times more.

Even the Minnesota Department of Health weighed in on the manner stating that consumers can depend on the safety of tap water just as they depend on the safety of bottled water. Another health concern involves fluoride. Most municipalities add fluoride to the water supply. Bottled water suppliers typically do not add fluoride to the water and those that use tap water often filter it out through their purification processes. This means that family with small children who drink bottled water exclusively may want to consider fluoride supplements for children between the ages of 7 and 16.

The Flavor Factor

Some people claim that the reason they avoid tap water has a great deal to do with the taste. Some feel that the flavor of their tap water is an indicator of bad things in the water. Those things, however, can easily be filtered with the use of filtering water pitchers. These filter out minerals and sediment (which often comes from your pipes rather than the water source itself) to leave you with water that is free of flavoring.

For the Love of Convenience

It’s hard to argue with statements about the convenience of bottled water. It’s easy to just grab a bottle and go. However, there are reusable bottles designed for water that are just as easy to take on the go with you. Fill them daily and store them in your refrigerator so that you have you have a selection to take with you throughout the day and use as needed. It’s just as convenient as – and much more cost effective than – buying bottles of water week after week.

In fact, some cities are beginning to take action in an effort to discourage the use of bottled water. According to National Geographic, one city, Bundanoon, in Australia has completely banned stores from selling bottled water. Closer to home, San Francisco and Seattle are no longer using bottled water for city use, and Chicago has added a five cent per bottle tax on all bottled water.

Environmentally Speaking

The planet is not so fond of bottled water. Not only does the bulk of the 50 billion bottles of water consumed in the U.S. alone end up in local landfills or littering parks, beaches, schools, and playgrounds; but there is also a great deal of fossil fuel energy that is used to create, transport, and refrigerate these bottles day after day. All this compared to tap water that requires the turning of a tap to transport from the city’s water supply to homes throughout the region for a fraction of the cost. Americans alone purchase enough bottled water that the bottles could circle the Earth more than five times.

Whether your objective is to make more planet-friendly decisions about the products you purchase or you’re interested in making safety-minded choices for your family, the idea that tap water is not as safe as bottled water is one that has been disproven time and time again. It’s time to make a switch and save money and the planet by turning to the tap for your daily water intake needs.

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    Amber Merton

    Amber Merton is an accomplished writer on the topics of green living and sleep. Her work has been covered in numerous online publications. Amber has been a regular author on the PlushBeds blog for the past 7 years.

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