People are often willing to pay big money for designer water. Here are some reasons you may want to stick with your kitchen sink.
Bottled water has a ubiquitous presence in the US. Almost every household buys some each week, even though they have access to a tap in their kitchen. However, as awareness of sustainability issues grows, people are beginning to wonder about the cost of using so much plastic for "healthier" water. This article will compare the environmental impact of bottled and tap water, along with their relative safety, cost, and taste.
All Sources of Water Have an Environmental Cost: Tap Water Has the Lowest
Water companies avoid contamination by using a variety of procedures to clean the public drinking water supply. After that, they pump the water into large holding tanks. In addition, people generally wash drinking glasses by hand or in a dishwasher when finished with them. All these actions utilize energy and chemicals, affecting the environment.
Nevertheless, a study published on the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority website found that drinking tap water has a far smaller environmental effect than drinking bottled water. The most significant contributing factor is that no disposable packaging is involved, which could wind up in a landfill or recycling facility.
The same study also found that the procedures involved in bottling, cooling, and shipping water bottles over great distances had a tremendous impact on the environment. It points out that, since almost half of the bottled water in the US comes from municipal taps, people incur an immense financial and environmental cost by paying to bring home tap water of the same quality they could have gotten by staying home.
Worldwide, people buy 1.3 billion plastic water bottles per day. In the US alone, consumers throw out over 60 million per day. Most of these bottles never see the inside of a recycling facility. Instead, they litter the streets and landfills and slowly release toxins while they degrade. Furthermore, producing this number requires an energy output equal to tens of millions of barrels of oil. Despite the processing and delivery costs, it seems that municipal tap water is a much more environmentally sustainable choice.
In the US, Tap Water Is Generally Safest
According to the CDC, drinking water in the United States is among the safest in the world. The EPA regulates how many toxins can be present in tap and groundwater, setting limits for their presence. Furthermore, the Safe Drinking Water Act lays out the requirements and mandates that water suppliers alert the public if tap water has a safety issue.
On the other hand, the FDA regulates bottled water as food. They demand that producers process and ship bottled water only after following stringent safety protocols. As a result, drinking bottled water is generally safe. But bottled water recalls happen periodically.
Packaging can contain microplastics and endocrine-disrupting substances that influence oxidative stress, reproduction, metabolism, and other functions. For example, a 2018 study examined 11 international bottled water brands from nine nations and found microplastic contamination in 93 percent.
A 2010 study published in the Journal of Sensory Studies indicated that when the tap water was chlorine-free, most participants could not distinguish between six bottled waters and six tap waters.
Bottled Water Costs Astronomically Higher Than Tap Water
Tap water is practical and reasonably priced to drink. You can acquire chilled, safe drinking water by just turning on a faucet. Additionally, it is freely offered at eateries and through public drinking fountains.
Contrarily, many people are willing to pay a premium for the convenience of bottled water. Some estimates have the cost of bottled water at up to 2,000 times that of tap water, with a gallon — produced by mixing single-serve water bottles — costing about three times as much milk does on average in the United States.
Few People Can Taste The Difference
Most people routinely fail to distinguish between tap water and bottled water in blind taste tests. For instance, a 2010 study published in the Journal of Sensory Studies indicated that when the tap water was chlorine-free, most participants could not distinguish between six bottled waters and six tap waters. Instead, the study showed that people prefer water with medium mineralization, the amount present in most tap water.
Some people may genuinely prefer the taste of a particular brand of bottled water. First, however, they may want to investigate the source. According to the FDA, a lot of bottled water is simply filtered tap water. Unless the label bears an FDA-approved designation of artesian well water, mineral water, spring water, or well water, it has come from a faucet in a bottling facility.
Tap Water Is Better for Health and the Environment
In 2020, bottled water became a $200 billion industry; some predict it will double by 2030. While many parts of the world suffer from unsafe, scarce drinking water supplies, the US is not one of them. However, it is the largest consumer of bottled water in the world.
Some may prefer the taste, but most people cannot tell the difference between a bottle and a tap. Furthermore, the financial, health and environmental impacts all point to tap water as the most sustainable source of potable water. Unfortunately, progress requires a concerted effort by many governments, corporations, and consumers to spread awareness that we should stick to our local, domestic water sources to support water sustainability.
Reusing single-use bottles can put your health at risk from microplastics or bacteria. Instead, buy a robust, BPA-free bottle to take with you and refill from the tap.
For those who may not like the taste of their own tap water, think of getting a filter. There are many kinds at many price points, but a well-maintained filter will remove the minerals and chlorine that can give water a strong flavor.
While tap water in the US is very safe, some people must be extra careful. For example, if you are pregnant, elderly, receiving cancer treatment, or otherwise