Bottled H2O vs. The Tap
The Mess You’re In
Your wallet has been feeling the pinch lately—should you splurge on that fancy bottle of water or stick your head under the faucet at home?
Who Can You Impress?
Your fellow water lover, any and all environmental fanatics … and, most importantly, your bank account.
The Quick & Dirty
If you don’t mind a little mystery, bottled is your poison of choice. If you prefer a little regulation in your life, you might want to stick with the tap.
Hosing It Down
While 70 percent of the human body may be made of it, these days, water is more in demand than the latest pair of Louis Vuitton shoes. Whether you prefer your agua via the kitchen sink, or in a fancy bottle sold at the convenience store, it is a human necessity and, therefore, pretty recession proof. The main question that is on the table is whether bottled water is really healthier for you than the good old-fashioned tap?
When the popularity of bottled water began to boom in the ’90s, many thought that the craze would die down after a while, just like bell-bottomed pants and Afros. Entering into the second decade of the 21st century, bottled water as an industry has not only survived, but flourished more than a well-watered Chia Pet. Estimates place worldwide bottled water sales between $50-100 billion each year.
While the iconic imagery of deep, pristine pools of spring water and majestic Alpine peaks may be plastered on those fancy bottles you see, the reality is that, inside of most, you will find well-manicured tap water. Apparently, about 18 percent of the 173 or so bottled waters on the U.S. market today fail to list the location of their source, and a third disclose nothing about the treatment or purity of the water inside. This is like buying a Gucci purse off the streets of New York. On the exterior, everything looks fancy and nice; but check the inside lining, and you’re in for a surprise.
Before you start to freak out and think that, for all you know, you have been drinking your neighbor’s bathwater all these years, take a deep breath. There are regulations and standards for both bottled and tap water. There are also some interesting oversights that you might want to pay attention to.
The Environmental Protection Agency regulates tap water, while the Food and Drug Administration oversees bottled water production. Yet FDA oversight doesn’t apply to water packaged and sold within the same state. This “little” oversight leaves some 60-70 percent of bottled water, including the contents of water cooler jugs, free of FDA regulation—individual states police the water as they see fit.
Not only do these oversights shine a not-so-glamorous light on the bottled water industry, but from an environmental standpoint, plastic bottles are to the Earth as kryptonite is to Superman. Bottled water production produces up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year. To the credit of most bottled water companies, the plastics used are usually of high quality and in demand to recyclers. The harsh reality is that over 80 percent of these plastic bottles are simply tossed in the trash to wind up in landfills scattered across the globe.
The real turnoff most people face in regard to the water that falls from our drippy faucets is the taste. In a world where taste is the qualifying factor in most of our food and beverage choices, the ever-booming bottled water industry has cashed in. There is no denying that no matter the quality or purity of the water that is bottled, there is that clean, crisp taste that is simply hard to come by via the tap.
But there is a simple, cost-effective solution to this problem. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars a year purchasing bottled water, buy an inexpensive water filter. The filter can become your wallet’s best friend in the long run—saving you time and money and, most of all, saving the planet from a plastic bottle invasion.
So, whether you choose to drink from the hosepipe or from a fancy bottle, keep in mind how blessed you are to have the availability to choose where your water supply comes from. Over 1 billion people throughout the world do not have that luxury.
Emily Melancon, marketing consultant for The Weekly, doesn’t like attacking Mother Earth, but still has the urge to purchase that fancy bottle in the cooler.