Tap Water or Bottled Water?

Sometimes it’s hard to make decisions. “Paper or plastic?” at the grocery store is a common choice to be made. Which one is better? There are valid arguments for and against both options. I usually select whatever the person doing the bagging already has in their hand, then spend the remaining time at the checkout stand wondering if this was the better choice.
Fortunately, it’s a much easier choice when it comes to water. “Tap or bottled?” No contest. From environmental, water quality, and economic perspectives, tap water is the clear winner. Refer to http://takebackthetap.org to learn more about this topic.
Environmentally, tap water is a no-brainer. No plastic bottles littering the countryside or filling up landfills. There are reports of Texas-sized zones in the middle of the oceans where the currents tend to mass floating materials – plastics of all sorts being prominent among the detritus.
And that’s just on the waste end of things. The plastic bottles had to come from somewhere else on this planet. Most plastics are derived from petroleum. In a small way, each plastic bottle is depleting the world of crude oil: both as the raw material for the bottle, and through the energy consumption required to manufacture the bottle (and transport it to your location.) (I’ll blog on this topic a bit later, because energy rivals water as the most ubiquitous and essential element in our lives.)
In exploring water quality differences between tap and bottled waters, we see a huge regulatory difference: tap water is regulated by the US Environmental Protection Agency, and bottled water is regulated as a food product by the US Food and Drug Administration. These regulators have some startling differences of opinion over what is “safe.” Despite the fact that most tap water is not consumed (and instead used for irrigation, toilet flushing, bathing, clothes washing, etc.), the EPA requirements are generally more strict than those of the FDA.
And when we get to economics, we have a real rout. According to the web site noted above, “Bottled water costs consumers 240 to 10,000 times more per gallon than tap water.” Wow! Those of you who know me will recognize that this final contrast is about all I need to know!
Does this mean I never buy or drink bottled water? No. There are many times when the convenience is worth the extra cost. And if you do use bottled water, please recycle your empties. But when I’m at home, it’s tap water for me. Finally, an easy choice.

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