Many people choose to drink bottled water instead of tap water, because clever marketing over the years has told us that it’s better. The truth is, most bottled water is nothing more than filtered tap. National taste tests have indicated that few people can tell a difference between bottled and tap water. Several bottling companies have admitted that their product is municipally sourced. There are, however, a few differences between bottled and filtered tap water.
Bottled Water is Bad for the Environment
It is estimated that less than one third of plastic water bottles are recycled each year. That leaves over 60 percent to pollute our landfills. Moreover, producing and transporting this product is wasteful. For every bottle of water produced, three are wasted, and hundreds of thousands of gallons of fuel are used to transport bottled water across the world. Filtered tap, on the other hand, leaves behind very little, if any plastic waste and is a better choice for environmental preservation.
Bottled Water is More Expensive
Millions of dollars go into the production and transport of plastic bottles all over the world. Since single-use plastic bottles aren’t meant to be reused, consumers have to pay money for each and every bottle of water they consume. The expense adds up over time. Filtered water, however, is available at a fraction of the cost and may be poured into reusable stainless steel water bottles over and over, saving consumers the money that would have otherwise been spent on single-use containers. In short, bottled water is generally more expensive than filtered tap in the long run. Although water filters cost money, and will need to be replaced periodically, the overall expense is much less than that of bottled water.
Bottled Water Is Less Regulated
The quality and safety of bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, whereas, the quality of tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA holds stricter standards than the FDA when it comes to water quality. For example, the FDA allows for a small percentage of fecal bacteria to remain present in spring water, while the EPA allows for none. Moreover, most plastic bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a toxic chemical that has been debated to leech into water, especially if the bottles are left in hot environments for extended periods of time.
Many consumers unknowingly reuse plastic bottles; however, doing so may promote bacterial growth and plastic chemical leeching. Plastic bottles that sit on grocery shelves for long periods have been found to contain a variety of contaminants, including crickets. Tap water may be filtered to reduce the taste and odor of chlorine often caused by municipal disinfecting methods, and may ultimately be safer than bottled water.
Bottled Water Is Said to Be More Convenient
Convenience is the main selling point for bottled water. However, the claim that it is more convenient is debatable. Products such as the Filtrete Water Station, allow you to bottle your water at home and carry safe reusable bottles with you on the go, making the expense of buying single-use plastic water bottles unnecessary and wasteful.
In the “bottled water vs. tap water” debate, the side you choose depends on where your priorities lie. The differences between bottled and filtered water all seem to point to the latter as the less costly choice, in terms of environmental impact and financial expense. It is important for consumers to be aware of the differences between the two, in order to make the best possible decision.