Go to fullsize imageThe topic of bottle water amazes me.  I can’t believe that we all spend so much money on water in a bottle.  I I understand it when people are travelling and have no other convenient water source or if people have really bad well water at home and don’t want to drink rotten egg water for ever.  But for most people I know, bottled water is pure luxury.  So what’s the draw?  Most people who I know who drink lots of bottle water, claim it is “more pure” and healthier than regular tap water.  Hmmm…I am not so sure about that.

Have you heard about the bottled “spring water” that actually came from a well located near a hazardous waste site?  Or the “pure glacier water” that came from a public water system in Alaska (a.k.a. “the tap”)?  Did you know that 25% of all bottled water comes from a public water source, the same as our tap water?  Why are we paying oodles of dollars over time for tap water in a plastic bottle?

Like I said, some people feel that bottled water is healthier.  While most bottle water is free and clear of contaminants there has been instances where harmful bacteria and chemicals were found in bottle water.  Just because it’s in a bottle doesn’t mean it’s sterile and safer than tap water.  Tap water is processed and regularly tested for bacteria and chemical levels.  The last major study investigating bottled water was in 1999.  Due to some regulatory inconsistencies, about 60-70% of bottled water is free of FDA oversight and regulations.  This includes those big water cooler jugs.  What happens is that the FDA does require regular testing but bottle water is considered a low risk item and often deadlines for inspection are stretched to make time for more pressing contamination issues.

In fact, you may not even be aware that bottled water has been contaminated.  Often, the bottling company simply has that batch pulled from store shelves.  They are not required to report mold, benzene, coliform, and microbes detection directly to the consumer.  This happened about 100 times in the past 10 years.  Granted, it’s not a major statistic but if you are concerned, you should know the facts.

If you are starting to think that maybe just maybe that bottle water is a little bit of a rip-off join the club.  Save that $1-$2 you would normally and put it into your gas tank.  Don’t contribute to petroluem product dependency and avoid buying those plastic bottle filled with tap water.  Let’s face it, not everybody is as great at recycling plastic as we are!  Go the “Biggest Loser” way and filter your own water into a reusable container.  Keep a jug of filtered tap water (or just tap water) in your refrigerator.  You will save yourself from having to buy bottled water and also save water by not waiting for the blue stuff to get cold as it runs from your tap.

Wait!  There’s more!  A couple friends of mine and I have a running joke that Meijer brand bottled water was simply water that they got from the drinking fountain in the back of the store and put in bottles.  I am not sure about that particular brand’s source yet, but you should not be fooled by words thrown on labels such as “pristine” and “pure”.  Aquafina has started to indicate (in small type I am sure) that their water is from a public water source (tap water from Wichita, Kansas).  Dasani acknowledges on it’s website that it’s bottled water comes from a local source such as tap water from Queens, New York or Jacksonville, FL (with minerals added of course).  Nestle Pure Life water indicates on the bottle if the water is from public, private or deep well resources.

All in all, you will find a lot of he said/she said about tap versus bottled water.  I have simply chosen to drink filtered tap water whenever I can.  I rarely buy bottled water unless I am travelling and it’s all that seems to be available.  I do always start off my trip with 2 reusable water bottles filled with tap water.  I also will frequent a drinking fountain now and again if I am on short jaunts and find myself thirsty.  Remember those things?  I know, they can be a little germy and sometimes taste funny.  But they will work in a pinch.  Also, when I am at my favorite restaurant and they ask if I want “bottled or tapped”, I will always reply, “I’d like to tap that”. 

Bottled water resources:  Aquafina is tapBottle Water Terms/Info$8 million business

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