#988 Buying Bottled Water Is A Waste Of Money

7 Nov

case of bottled water

Photo via flickr by Lee Brimelow.

Would you really pay 240 to 10,000 times for for any item in your house that cost pennies? According to the National Resources Defense Council’s extensive study on bottled water, that’s how much more consumers paid for bottled water than tap water. And to add insult to injury, some bottled water is actually just bottled tap water. In the greatest marketing scheme known to man, corporations learned that they could take a free product, put it in a package and then sell it at great profit. If you live in a country where tap water is safe, then you should never buy bottled water. Bottled water sales have exploded since the ’90s to the great dismay of thrifty-minded consumers and environmentalists. Frankly, I just don’t understand paying $1.29 or more for something that flows freely from the nearest tap.

drink tap water logo

Image via flickr by noomii.

Government agencies like the FDA assure the safety and drinkability of tap water, so claims that bottled water is more pure or better for you are simply marketing ploys to get you to believe that you are buying something that you can’t get for free. If you are at home, you can enjoy your tap water as much as you like. The best way to take your water with you is to refill a Nalgene or Sigg type bottle from the tap. Make it an essential part of what you don’t leave the house without. Keys? Check. Wallet? Check. Water? Check. If you drink all of your water when you’re out, simply refill at the closest tap or water fountain.

If you’re really picky about taste or temperature, get a water filter system like a Brita pitcher and keep it in the fridge or on the counter. Although, I find that I usually give up paying for the filters (which are still cheaper than buying bottled) and settle for straight tap water. Your taste buds adjust. Or you can put a more permanent filtration system under your sink or at the faucet.

Challenges like airport security or concert venues are no problem if you bring an empty bottle and fill it once you are on the right side of security. I’ve had some really awful water after filling a bottle from an airport fountain or tap, but the only thing that was offended was my tongue, not my wallet. I could bear a little distaste for a couple hours.

reusable water bottles

Reusable water bottles filled with tap water are the way to go. Photo via flickr by Rubbermaid Products.

If I forget to bring my water bottle from home and I’m dying for a drink, I find the nearest water fountain. I’ve also been known to drink straight out of the tap on a few occasions. If I do buy a bottle of water if I’m going to be out for a while, I buy one bottle of water, and save the bottle to refill as long as I am out and about. The compromise of buying a bottle is sort of mitigated by re-using the bottle as much as possible during the outing.

Many people may even live in the same area as the aquifer that the bottled water comes from, meaning the tap water is practically like having spring water flowing from your faucet. States where there are a lot of fresh water springs have particularly “good” water. Right now I’m lucky to be living where I have cold, crisp well water on tap.

Driving through Morocco, we would see signs that we were entering a government approved safe tap water zone. Freely available safe drinking water is a modern blessing that we shouldn’t flout by then paying for bottled water. Even if you live in a country where tap water is not guaranteed, then boiling the water for 1-10 minutes will make the water safe for drinking.

As with most thrifty things, not only will you be saving money, but you’ll be saving the environment as well. The clutter from unrecycled water bottles is an environmentalist’s nightmare. We don’t have to needlessly fill our world with more trash. If you do end up buying a bottle of water, remember to recycle the bottle.


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