After conducting a 4-year-study and independent testing of over 1,000 bottles of water, the National Resource Defense Council found there were no assurances that bottled water is any cleaner than tap water. They also found that at least 25 percent of bottled water is believed to be bottled tap water. A 2010 Environmental Working Group study found that among the 10 best-selling brands including Aquafinia, Dasani, Crystal Geyser, and 6 of 7 Nestle branded water could not answer the following questions: Where does the water come from; is it purified; how is it purified; and have tests found any contaminants?
The average cost of a 16.9 ounce water bottle is about $1.20. Compare that to homeowners who on average pay $5.34 per 1000 gallons of water. If you are wondering 1000 gallons of water is the equivalent of 128,000 ounces. That means you are paying $.071 for each ounce of water in a bottle, versus $.00004171875 from the tap (that is 1,800 times less). To fill a 16.9 ounce bottle with tap water it would cost $.000705046875. We are talking about numbers that are a fraction of a penny.
So why are you paying upwards of 1,800 times more per ounce over the water you get from your tap? For a lot of us the answer is taste. What comes out of our faucet might not give us the greatest confidence. Unpleasant odors and taste are rarely an accurate indication that something is wrong. Bottled water can often be described as tasting fresh.
If you are connected to a public utility, your drinking water might not seem very fresh because it has undertaken a long journey from the time it was taken from a source to reaching your tap. The most common complaints about taste is almost guaranteed to be the result of chlorine being used to disinfect water. Chlorine diluted in water supplies has few health risks, however there can be unpleasant side effects. An earthy or musty smell is likely the result of bacteria or algae likely growing on the inside of taps or around rubber washers. Bitter metallic tastes can be sign that old fixtures might need replaced.
For the residents of Flint, Michigan there are real concerns over health issues related to contaminated water. In emergencies bottled water can be a means to basic survival. For the rest of us, we are buying into an $11.8 billion industry that often operates on the perception of clean water.
Except you can have clean and safe water without spending a lot of money or polluting the environment as the result of 75% of water bottles not being recycled. You can buy a 5-pack of Brita filters that use carbon filtration to absorb the unpleasant tastes and odors, copper, cadmium and mercury at a cost of $6.75 per filter. Remember: Buying filters in bulk can save you a lot over buying single packs.
So, a Brita filter has a recommended capacity of 40 gallons, that converts to 5120 ounces. That means running regular old tap water through my Brita I can fill a 16.9 ounce water bottle for about $.022 (nearly 54 times less expensive than buying a bottle of water.)
- Author’s Note: If you have ever thought about a Brita filter, I can tell you that they do work. The refrigerator in my apartment does not have a filter and the tap water is terrible, so I keep a Brita Pitcher in the fridge and enjoy the heck out of its low operating cost and huge improvement to the taste of my water. I drink less soda as a result and you can use that same water to make coffee or cook.
If you have a refrigerator, what about those filters? Good news, we have an entire article dedicated to the subject of replacing your refrigerator water filter. But lets focus on just the numbers for now. We looked at the Whirlpool EDR3RXD1 and found it is designed to filter 200 gallons, or 25600 ounces of water. At a cost of $42.90 per filter, you can fill a 16.9 ounce water bottle for $.028 (nearly 43 times less expensive than a bottle of water). The comparable Water Sentinel WSW-5 costs $29.90 and also filters 200 gallons at a cost of $.019 to fill a 16.9 ounce bottle of water.
For fun, let’s look at how much a family of 4 would spend if they each consumed the recommended 64 ounces of fluids per day for a whole year from the following sources, assuming a cost of $5.34 per 1000 gallons of water from the tap and $1.20 for a 16.9 ounce bottle of water:
- Bottled Water: $6632 (you would have to buy and throw out the equivalent of 5528 bottles!)
- Tap Water: $3.88
- Brita Filter: $120.32
- Whirlpool Filter: $155.84
What does all of this tell us? Filters not only reduce or remove bad tastes and odors, they are better for the environment because they last longer and use less plastic, and they can save you thousands of dollars.