More than half of Americans drink bottled water, and more than one third of Americans drink bottled water on a regular basis. Is that a good thing? Yes and no. Drinking water is definitely better than drinking a soda, but you are probably not drinking the pure and healthy water that you think you are.
There are three primary reasons not to drink bottled water which include: the lack of regulatory control of the contents of bottled water, the incredibly poor value offered by bottled water, and the environmental impact of discarded water bottles. Initially, this was a three part series, but who has time to read multiple articles when you can get the “Cole’s Notes” version right here.
The “Bottled Water is Cleaner and Safer Than Tap Water” Fallacy:
CTV news reported this week about a recent study http://toronto.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20100525/bottled-water-bacteria-100525/20100525/?hub=TorontoNewHome about bottled water in Montreal, Canada. The study found that more than 70 percent of the samples contained bacteria levels that were dozens of times higher than the levels permitted by the United States Pharmacopeia (USP). That doesn’t mean that the bottles that they studied were unsafe. In fact, the researches indicated that the level of contaminants found in the bottled water that they studied would most likely only cause adverse effects in those that are more susceptible to illness.
It is easy to find a number of other studies which basically tell us that tap water is generally as clean or cleaner than bottled water. The real significance of the research studies is that they dispel the image that bottled water is pure and healthy. The public’s perception that bottled water is cleaner or safer than tap water is a fallacy which has been created over many years by sophisticated marketing campaigns that have cost hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s right, hundred of millions of dollars. Bottled water is that profitable.
Bottled Water Is A Ripoff
It has been estimated that nearly half of bottled water is simply tap water that has been filtered. You can purchase a simple charcoal filter that can be installed under your kitchen sink that will do the same thing or better for a fraction of the cost.
Tap water for drinking is basically free. Tap water is also safe to drink because the municipality couldn’t provide it to you unless it was safe. I have come across villages and rural areas (typically areas where there is not a enough population to justify the cost of a water treatment plant) that supply water that isn’t safe to drink, but the citizens are fully aware of the fact and take the necessary measures.
If you find that the taste of your tap water is offensive to you, you can purchase an under counter carbon filter ($69 range) to remove the chlorine taste and odor from your water.
If you have chemicals such as fluoride in your source water that you don’t want to be drinking, you can typically get RO systems from as low as $149 at a big box store like Costco right up to about $399. You will also see big organizations like Culligan and Kinetico as well as door to door selling companies that charge as much as $3,5000 for RO systems. I think it important to remember that the expensive systems are still just RO systems with additional bells and whistles.
My personal favourite drinking water system is the Vitev Maxx ($795). I’m a water geek so I want the best of the best. The Maxx is by far and away the best drinking water system on the market as it truly has it all. It combines a high end American made NSF certified RO system (cleans the water) with a state of the art Remineralizing filter that makes the water alkaline and infuses it with energy and with essential elements such as calcium and magnesium. The unit includes a “H2O Optimizer” which means the unit uses up to 80% less water and fills up the holding tank up to 4 times faster than regular RO systems. The system also has a couple of other great features that you can check out at: www.vitev.com/alkaline-water-ionizers/maxx/
The system provides virtually unlimited amounts of what I think is the best man made drinking water in the world for a family for about 50 cents per day. Why would you drink anything else?
The Harmful Environmental Impact Of Bottled Water
An advocacy group called Corporate Accountability International estimates that 17 million barrels of oil were required last year to make the water bottles that were produced for drinking water in the United States.
Let’s put those 17 million barrels of oil in perspective by comparing it to the “environmental disaster” that recently took place when the BP oil rig sank in the Gulf of Mexico. Remember the horrifying images of black oil pumping into the Gulf for 87 days and the carnage on wildlife? The US Government’s best guess three years after the fact is that the spill pumped 4.2 million barrels into the Gulf. That means that we willingly use 4 times more oil each year to make water bottles in the USA than was pumped into the Gulf. And the worst part is that the making of the bottles is just the beginning. How much gas is consumed hauling the water by trucks to the bottling facilities and then hauling the water to stores. When you stop and think about it, the math makes you sick.
Now that you know the environmental cost of making the disposable bottles for drinking water, let’s take a look at the environmental cost of disposing of the bottles. We ignore the problem of disposing plastic water bottles because they are recylable….right?. How bad could it really be if we recycle? Pretty bad. Most of don’t realize that 10 billion plastic water bottles end up in our landfill sites each year (don’t forget to take the caps off the bottles before carrying them to the end of your driveway in your recycle boxes, or the bottles won’t get recycled). That means about 30 plastic water bottles end up in our landfills each year for every man, woman, and child.
Still not bothered by this? Try this for a visual. If you lined up the empty bottles created each year in the USA that end up in our landfill sites, they would stretch from New York to Los Angeles approximately 200 times. Need another example? How about 5,000 olympic sized swimming pools filled with plastic water bottles, or a pile that would cover Manhattan Island….every year….and they last for 450 years…each
Stop drinking bottled water. It is probably not as healthy as tap water and definitely not as healthy as other alternatives, it is crazy expensive for what you are getting, and it is terrible for our environment.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and the quoted sources.