Would you pay a premium of over 1,000% for a similar quality product? What if the product is delivered in a wasteful container that has a negative impact on the environment? Seems like the most logical answer would be ‘No’, yet I have been doing this for years. I have been buying bottled water as a replacement for drinking tap water. Mostly because I have perceived bottled water as being cleaner than tap water and partly because of convenience.
While I do have a reverse osmosis system that filters tap water we drink inside the house, I tend to use bottled water when I am on the go. Running to show a listing in 100 degree weather, I find it easier to grab a cold container of bottled water from the fridge than filling up a water bottle with ice and water.
After watching the documentary ‘Tapped’, I have gained a new perspective on bottled water. I would highly recommend this documentary along with the documentary ‘Flow’, which focuses more about the the control of water and privatization issues.
It was interesting to find that municipal water is much more regulated than bottled water and undergoes testing continuously throughout the day while bottled water testing is less stringent. The EPA is the organization that regulates municipal water while the FDA regulates bottled water. And since FDA regulations do not cover water that is packaged and sold within the same state, nearly 60% of bottled water sold is unregulated. Not only have studies found bacteria and carcinogens in bottled water, the plastic bottles (made of Polyethylene Terephthalate or PET) are made from a toxic chemical which scientist have found to leach into the water at high temperatures. (Readers Digest – Rethink What You Drink) It is noted in this article that more research needs to be done. But for me, knowing there are potential risks with these bottles is enough for me to drastically reduce my usage.
I thought that recycling was the solution to the bottled water container issue, but this is not the case. Less than half of the bottles actually get recycled by society, and in many cases, end up in the ocean in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Wildlife, including the fish we eat, ingest this debris, creating a vicious cycle of contamination.
I do find environmental documentaries to often be one-sided so I decided to do my own research. I first looked at the most recent Austin Water Report which confirms the quality of the tap water. Austin has been reported by Forbes to have some of the cleanest tap water in the country. I also looked at reports by Purdex, an independent drinking water certification and research company. The reports ranked Austin Water cleaner than most bottled water.
Even though these tests confirm that tap water is clean, you should get your home’s water tested before relying on these results. Older houses will most likely have old pipes which may compromise the water quality. We live in an old house and had Culligan test our tap water. The tap water contained approximately 100 parts per million (ppm) of dissolved solids whereas the reverse osmosis (RO) filtered Culligan water contained approximately 15 ppm of dissolved solids. The RO system we have works well, but is not flawless. These systems tend to waste 1 gallon of water for every 4-5 gallons of water it filters. Another option would be using a Brita filter which does not waste water, but also will not filter the water as well as a RO system.
The amount of energy it takes to produce the plastic bottles, then transport, store and dispose of them is significantly greater than the amount of energy it takes me to fill up a non-BPA water bottle with tap water. I plan to make a change and buy less bottled water. Instead of grabbing a bottled water on my way out the door, I plan on filling up my Yeti metal container with filtered water from my tap. Oh, have I not introduced you to my new favorite contraption, a Yeti Container? More on that in the next post!