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Your Take: Ultrapure Awesome Bottled (Tap) Water

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I think bottled water is absolutely f’ing ridiculous. There, I said it. Let us ignore the fact that what you’re paying for essentially filtered tap water at a multiple of perhaps hundreds or thousands of times normal, let us instead focus on the environmental impact of all the plastic required to store what is essentially a free resource. Plastic takes oil and basically never biodegrades. I don’t know how many bottles end up in landfills or how many bottles Americans consume in a year but I know the number is huge and there is a tremendous amount of waste. I don’t think you need more than common sense to know that a plastic bottle in a landfill is worse than not having another plastic bottle in a landfill. :)

If you don’t believe in global warming, let’s take a look at the local impact of what happens when a company comes in and starts pumping water out of natural springs and wells. What a company basically does is go in and pump all the water out and into high capacity wells for their own use, basically drying up the water supply for the local residents. What usually happens is that the water takes hundreds of years before it will start taking in a lot of the minerals in the ground and so when companies come and pump the water out faster than nature can replenish it, you’re talking about impacting the lives of the local residents. While the beverage companies do provide money and jobs to the local residents, it comes at a cost much higher than they have been willing to bear and in many cases have been fighting back.

Let’s say you don’t care about the environmental impacts and you don’t care about the local residents, what would you say if I told you bottled water isn’t necessarily better than tap? Well, consider this: there is no real regulatory agency that regulates bottled water, but the Environmental Protection Agency does regulate public water supplies. The only thing the FDA can do is regulate that the water is bottled in sanitary conditions with food grade equipment. That’s it. If you’d like to learn more, here’s a great article on the subject worth checking out. Oh yeah, here’s an article about a study where they found the bottled water was no worse than New York City tap water.

The only part of the bottled water craze I can understand is the convenience factor, but having a Nalgene (or some other indestructible hardened plastic bottle will suffice) bottle is good enough. It’s also better on the environment and your wallet, plus it’s starting to be trendy again to have a Nalgene.

What’s your take on bottled water? Love it? Hate it? You know my stance, I’d love to hear yours.

{ 15 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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15 Responses to “Your Take: Ultrapure Awesome Bottled (Tap) Water”

  1. Convenience is the American way but I’ll add one more problem with bottled water: The vast majority do not have flouride, which, as most people know, is absolutely essential for healthy teeth. Tap-water, however, does have flouride in it.

    Blueprint does a good job of covering the obvious financial drawbacks. Here’s another: Long-term, rotten teeth are not only a health risk but also quite expensive!

    Cheers…

  2. Tim says:

    living in a Third World country, bottled water is necessary. granted, i do have a distiller, which i use most of the time.

  3. Kevin Spring says:

    When I was in college, the environmental club I was in calculated that the school sold 250,000 plastic bottles a year through vending machines and the cafeteria. This was only with a student body of 10,000, which means each student bought about 10 bottles a year. We started a recycling program since recycling plastic in my area is economically feasible. Most of the plastic used in the U.S. is made here. If you were to try to recycle plastic in Kansas, the transportation cost to a recycle plant will use more energy than what you would save to recycle the bottle.

    You should check out Penn & Teller’s Bullshit episode 5 of season 2, where they debunk many myths on land fills and recycling.

    The best way to recycle plastic bottles is to not throw them away. I buy a case of water bottles and after I drink the water, I fill it back up. BTW Penn & Teller have another episode on bottle water, episode 7 season 1.

  4. Kevin Spring says:

    I thought I would also add that a lot of bottle water does not really come from “natural springs.” If the water you drink was bottled in the state in which you bought it, then the federal government cannot regulate the trade and cannot guarantee that it came from “the snow of mountaintops.”

    For example when I buy Dasani water, it is bottled in the state I live. Well guess where they get the water? From the local water municipality. They get the water from the same facet you have at home, put it through a filter (reverse-osmosis in some cases), and then sell it for a lot of money. The profit margin of bottled water is so huge that companies would never stop bottling water

  5. Dan says:

    Love bottled water…local tap water tastes terrible. Don’t think twice about its impact on the environment to be honest.

  6. Patrick says:

    Incoming trackback/response.

    I had to dedicate an entire post to cover this one. ;)

  7. mapgirl says:

    Some water is not ‘filtered’ per se, but run through a reverse osmosis machine. I don’t know why but lots of water filtered that way makes my tongue feel funny.

    FWIW, I find that waters do taste different and if the tap water tastes gross, I’m going to drink bottled. (As I am at my nephew’s house this week). But tap from home, run through BRITA tastes just fine. I’m not completely against it, but knowing its place is important.

  8. lisa says:

    I think reverse osmosis at home is the way to go. Not every state’s tap water tastes great. In Arizona our tap water is so hard and chlorinated it tastes like pool water. Drink from the tap? No thanks.

  9. Victor says:

    I buy and drink ONLY bottled water for one reason: Pipes. The tap water may be coming out pure from the public utility but as soon as it leaves there it has to find it’s way to your home some how. Cracked or old pipes will add nasties to your basic tap water. Someone suggested that I boil the water before I drink it to kill the nasties but doesn’t that increase my carbon footprint?

    There are about 5 water mains that go bad in my city nearly every week so I know the pipes must all be in bad shape.

  10. devil says:

    Yeah, I’m in the “thinks it’s ridiculous” camp. My tap water tastes great so I just buy bottled for the bottles. I reuse them over and over.

  11. Chris says:

    I like those little plastic bottles. We buy a big case of them and reuse them by filling them with filtered tap from our fridge. We are still on the case we bought 2 years ago. They handle just fine in the dish washer and are disposable if they do become too ragged to stand upright. Having little bottles of water in the fridge is a real convenience and we drink more water because of it (and can quickly take water with us so we aren’t tempted to buy a bottle on the road).

  12. Dan says:

    Another thing to add, the cost to transport the bottles to the bottling plant, the bottled water to the sales outlets across the country, the trip from you house to the store, the trip home, the trips for the huge garbage or recycling trucks to come pick up all the empties. The carbon footprint of all that gas/diesel, and hours of peoples time, just can’t argue enough that this is wasteful, needless consumption. I have a refridgerator filter, and a brita pitcher, and drink tap water. And yes, sometimes, when I manage to get the little bottles, I reuse them with filtered water.

  13. Jennifer C says:

    I thought The Financial Philosopher would be interested in reading this…

    link

    …the truth about the flouride they add to municipal water.

  14. kitty says:

    I used to buy it. The taste of our municipal water leaves a lot to be desired, and we had some letters from the town discussing some problems with meeting standards they were working to resolve. After they resolved the problems and I added BRITA to remove chlorine and such, I stopped buying bottled water.
    As to fluoride, some of us – those who like to drink tea for example – are already getting enough.

  15. Russell says:

    Consumption of bottled water really took off in spring of ’92; so much so that manufacturers of the bottles couldn’t keep up with demand. This coincided with the introduction of the ‘sport cap’ on bottled water, by Rim Rock water of Arizona. Other water bottle accesories were developed, including the Sip Top, with which I was involved. Numerous straps, carriers, insulators, etc., came to market to fill demand.
    I’ve made a nice chunk of money off the bottled water market, as have many other people I know. One young woman financed her college education, and learned significant marketing and business skills, through the sale of her bottle holder/insulator.
    I’m not saying that buying bottled water is smart, financially, or that it is ecological. But the demand is there, so why not exploit the business potential?
    P.S. My latest water insulated bottle carrier is made from recycled polyester fabric, which is made from recycled P.E.T.E. water bottles.


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