Bottled Water vs Tap WaterBy John Davis - June 8, 2015
While it’s a fact water is vital to life, the best source for our drinking water isn’t quite as clear.
So the only question is, where do you get the majority of your drinking water? Bottled, tap, or filtration?
Through our research we’ve concluded the best bet for healthy and cost effective drinking water is filtered tap water. We’ve also created the infographic below to help illustrate our points. Check it out.
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Buying Water By the Bottle Doesn’t Add Up
If you thought it was expensive to put gas in your car, you should check out the price of a bottle of water.
In my opinion, bottled water is one of the biggest price gouging scams in corporate America history. Think about it, a 16.9 oz bottle of water typically costs over $1. There are 128 oz’s in a gallon, which equals over $7.50 per gallon. For water!
Sure, there are times when a bottle of water is your only option, but for everyday consumption, it doesn’t make any sense.
Of course the price goes down for buying in bulk, but it’s still astronomical when compared to other options.
Let’s say you buy in bulk and get the price down to .30 per 16.9 oz, you’re still at $2.25 per gallon. Five gallons a day at that price would run your family over $4000 a year, or more than 1900 times the cost of tap water.
On the flip side, a reverse osmosis water system will run you around $200-300 dollars and can filter 50+ gallons of tap water per day. The filters will last for 12 months, equaling a yearly savings of well over $3500 for 5 gallons per day.
Your Bottled Water Label is Corporate Marketing Hype
Pure, Natural, Spring, Mineral, Artesian, Distilled.
Are these labels truly depicting the source and purity of what’s inside? Unfortunately, in most instances, no. The majority of the time these terms are thrown on the label simply as a marketing tactic to make their brand sound the most refreshing.
Aqufina’s label shows mountains and snow to give the consumer thoughts of a fresh mountain spring flowing into the bottle. In reality the water is packaged in Pepsi’s plants using municipal water.
As for the purity, the EWG tested 10 major brands and found over 38 contaminants. They also found 9 out 10 major brands do not disclose the source and / or treatment process for their water.
Why would bottled water companies be so reluctant to disclose all possible information to consumers?
Often Bottled Water is Nothing More than Expensive Tap Water
According to this article by Today.com about 25 percent of bottled water is actually municipal water which has been filtered by reverse osmosis, or activated carbon – the same processes used by the APEC reverse osmosis system I use in my home.
We already mentioned Pepsi’s Aqufina is processed tap water, but Coke’s Dasani is as well. These are two of the biggest players in the bottled water market. And both use the same processes you can use to filter your own tap water at a fraction of the cost.
Bottled Water Creates Mega Waste
It’s more important than ever to think about the consequences of our actions and how they’ll effect future generations. Every time you look at a bottle of water ask yourself a few questions;
- Where did the bottle come from?
- How was it made / manufactured?
- How much energy and oil did production take?
- How did it get to the grocery store for purchase?
- Where does the bottle go once I’m done with it?
It’s estimated somewhere between 70-80% of the billions of plastic water bottles used in the US end up in landfills as liter. Not to mention they take anywhere from 700-1000 years to decompose, so as far as we’re concerned they’ll be here forever.
National Geographic reports nearly 17 million barrels of oil are needed to meet the bottled water demands of the United States alone. This is enough oil to fuel over a million cars for an entire year.
Moreover, these figures do not account for transporting the water to your grocer and the energy needed for refrigeration.
And while there are plenty of options for recycling only 1 out of every 5-6 water bottles ever makes it into the recycling plant. If we’re fortunate they end up in a landfill and not our rivers and oceans.
The Plastic Can Undermine the Filtration
Even when your bottled water has been perfectly purified using the most advanced filtration methods it can still be compromised by the time it gets to you, and I’m not only talking about BPA (bisphenol-A).
According to this report by Fox News a recent German study detected over 24,000 harmful chemicals in a single bottle of water. Some of which could have serious health effects such as infertility, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure. They also tested tap water for a direct comparison and found none of the same harmful results.
How is Bottled Water Regulated Compared to Tap?
Tap water is regulated by the EPA under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) which sets fairly strict standards on all community water systems. Water systems are also required to issue annual Consumer Confidence reports to their customers noting any contaminants discovered and how they corrected the problem.
Our evaluation does show, however, that the regulatory system intended to ensure bottled water quality has enormous gaps. The majority of bottled water, according to FDA, is not covered by federal regulations, and FDA does not regulate or monitor the bottled water that is covered by its rules particularly well.
They go into great detail on six loopholes in the FDA’s monitoring of bottled water;
- Only bottled water sold across state lines is regulated by the FDA. This leaves 60-70% of all bottled water to be regulated by states authorities.
- Only bottled water with labels such as; “spring water”, “mineral water”, “drinking water”, “bottled water”, “purified water”, and “distilled water” are regulated. Leaving many waters such as; “soda water”, “carbonated water”, and “water” exempt.
- Even waters considered “bottled water” are not required to meet standards as strict as tap water
- Bottlers are allowed to sell contaminated water as long as they specify on the label their product contains bacteria or contamination.
- Bottlers are not required to report test results and violations. They may also dispose of all records within two years. Community water systems, however, must report every year to all of their customers and the records go on public file for all to access.
- Bottlers do not have to test after the water has been in storage, nor do they have to provide dates of when their water was bottled.
Conclusion: Filtered Tap Water is the Safest and Most Cost Effective
While tap water is regulated tighter than bottled water, there are still some areas of concern.
The initial investment for a quality reverse osmosis system may seem heavy at first, but as we discussed above, it’s nothing compared to the cost of bottled water.
A reverse osmosis system is easy to install and will pay for itself in the first year. They also use the same technology as most major bottlers, without the waste and extra chemicals associated with the plastic itself.
To learn more about the reverse osmosis system I use in my home please check out my APEC ROES-50 Review.
What is Reverse Osmosis?
In it’s simplest form reverse osmosis is the process of using pressure to pass water from a more concentrated area through a semi-permeable membrane to a less concentrated area.
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