Thursday, April 14, 2011
Bottled Water - A Waste Of Money
Bottled Water - a waste of money!!
Why would you buy bottled water? Presumably because you believe that it is purer and healthier than tap water. It is certainly a good deal more expensive! But are you really getting your money′s worth?
According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) the answer is no. The EWG, based in Washington DC, is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to the protection of human health and the environment.
Annual U.S. sales of bottled water are estimated at nine billion gallons, for revenues of about $12 billion. A gallon of bottled water typically costs $3.79; tap water is only about $0.002 per gallon. Bottled water therefore costs about 1900 times as much as tap water!
Of the roughly 36 billion plastic water bottles sold annually, only about 20% are recycled. The rest ends up in landfills, incinerators, rivers and oceans. Making these bottles requires about 1.5 million barrels of oil annually, enough fuel to run 100,000 cars for one year.
Municipalities are required by law to analyze their drinking water and publish annual reports. The water bottling industry has created guidelines that are stricter than the requirements for municipal water supplies. However, adherence is voluntary and test results are not published.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets standards for tap water provided by public water systems; the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets bottled water standards based on EPA′s tap water standards.
This is what the EPA has to say about bottled water:
"Bottled water is not necessarily safer than your tap water. Some bottled water is treated more than tap water, while some is treated less or not treated at all."
The EWG′s findings
Ten popular brands of bottled water, purchased from grocery stores and other retailers in 9 states and the District of Columbia, were sent to an independent test lab for analysis. The laboratory found 38 different pollutants in these samples, an average of eight per brand and at levels no different from tap water.
Here are some of the contaminants they found:
Bacteria — found in four of the ten brands.
Fluoride, a signature chemical of tap water — found at concentrations typical of tap water.
A number of trihalomethanes, formed in municipal water treatment plants when chlorine-based disinfectants react with organic matter from urban and agricultural contaminants. At least one of these trihalomethanes, bromodichloromethane, is a known carcinogen.
Urban waste water pollutants like caffeine, pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, fertilizer residues, and industrial chemicals like solvents, plasticizers and propellants.
Xenoestrogens, i. e. industrial estrogen-mimicking compounds. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals from plastics are considered a potentially serious health concern.
Some samples exceeded state limits on allowable levels of contaminants, while others substantially exceeded the voluntary standards established by the bottled water industry. These tests also showed that bottles of the same brands, but purchased in different regions of the country, could contain contaminants at different levels, i. e. sticking to one brand is no guarantee of quality.
Two of the ten brands, Walmart′s Sam′s Choice and Giant′s Acadia, bore the unmistakable signature of standard municipal water treatment. In other words, these two brands were essentially indistinguishable from tap water — except for the price!
Given the results of the EWG′s investigation, and the industry′s refusal to make available data to support their claims of superiority, consumers should think twice before buying and drinking bottled water. Money spent on bottled water is evidently not justified.
Alternatives to bottled water
Get a carbon filter for the tap or for a pitcher. Carbon filters will remove many of the contaminants found in tap water. Tap- or pitcher-mounted carbon filters cost from $19.99 to $39.99, good for 40 to 100 gallons. This would run to an average of $0.31/gallon, less than a tenth the cost of bottled water. Just make sure that you remember to replace the filter regularly; clogged filters can′t remove contaminants and may harbour bacteria.
A more expensive solution would be a reverse osmosis filter, which can eliminate contanminants that pass through carbon filters.
Carry your water in safe containers like stainless steel bottles. Hard plastic bottles can leach bisphenol A (BPA), a known endocrine disruptor and health hazard.
Forget about buying bottled water — more often than not it is just very expensive tap water. Purify your own water and get a stainless steel bottle to carry it. You′ll save money and do something good for the environment at the same time! Remember echo-friendliness is a by-product of frugality.