Bottled Water vs. Reverse Osmosis Water

Myth – Bottled water is healthy water — or so marketers would have us believe. In reality, bottled water is just water. That fact isn't stopping people from buying a lot of it. Estimates variously place worldwide bottled water sales at over $50 or even closer to $100 billion each year. Bottled water is big business. But in terms of sustainability, bottled water is a dry well. It's costly, wasteful and distracts from the brass ring of public health: the construction and maintenance of safe municipal water systems.

Want some solid reasons to kick the bottled water habit?

Bottled water isn't a good value –

Take for instance, the 20-ounce bottled water generally sold in vending machines alongside soft drinks — and at the same price. Assuming you can find a $1 machine, which works out to 5 cents an ounce. These two brands are essentially filtered tap water, bottled close to their distribution point. Most municipal water costs less than 1 cent per gallon.

No healthier than tap water –

In theory, bottled water in the United States falls under the regulatory authority of the Food and Drug Administration. In practice, about 70 percent of bottled water never crosses state lines for sale, making it exempt from FDA oversight.  On the other hand, water systems in the developed world are well-regulated. In the U.S., for instance, municipal water falls under the purview of the Environmental Protection Agency, and is regularly inspected for bacteria and toxic chemicals. Want to know how your community scores? Check out the Environmental Working Group's National Drinking Water Database.  While public safety groups correctly point out that many municipal water systems are aging and there remain hundreds of chemical contaminants for which no standards have been established, there's very little empirical evidence that suggests bottled water is any cleaner or better for you than its tap equivalent.


Bottled water means waste –

Bottled water produces up to 1.5 million tons of plastic waste per year. According to Food and Water Watch, that plastic requires up to 47 million gallons of oil per year to produce. And while the plastic used to bottle beverages is of high quality and in demand by recyclers, over 80 percent of plastic bottles are simply thrown away. Thanks to its slow decay rate, the vast majority of all plastics ever produced still exist — somewhere.


Bottled water means less attention to public systems –

Many people drink bottled water because they don't like the taste of their local tap water, or because they question its safety.

This is like running around with a slow leak in your tire, topping it off every few days rather than taking it to be patched. Only the very affluent can afford to switch their water consumption to bottled sources. Once distanced from public systems, these consumers have little incentive to support bond issues and other methods of upgrading municipal water treatment.

 The corporatization of water –

In the documentary film "Thirst," authors Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman demonstrated the rapid worldwide privatization of municipal water supplies, and the effect these purchases are having on local economies.

Water is being called the "Blue Gold" of the 21st century. Thanks to increasing urbanization and population, shifting climates and industrial pollution, fresh water is becoming humanity's most precious resource.

Multinational corporations are stepping in to purchase groundwater and distribution rights wherever they can, and the bottled water industry is an important component in their drive to commoditize what many feel is a basic human right: the access to safe and affordable water.

 What can you do?

There's a simple alternative to bottled water: buy a stainless steel thermos, and use it. Don't like the way your local tap water tastes? A Reverse Osmosis System filters out on average 98.8% of the impurities, both human and natural which are in your water.  They only cost a fraction of bottled water's cost within a year’s time.

Conserve water wherever possible, and stay on top of local water issues.

Bottoms up!


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