If your family drinks bottled water regularly, you’re not alone. Americans drink around 97 billion bottles of water per year. After all, it’s quick and convenient to grab a bottle from the fridge or store when you’re on the go. But it’s an expensive habit -- and plastic bottles cause tremendous harm to the environment. What's more, everything you think you know about bottled water may not be true at all.
You may prefer bottled water because it tastes better or you trust it more than tap water. You might have picked up the habit as a substitute for unhealthy bottled and canned beverages like soda. Perhaps you’re drawn to flavored waters or drink it when traveling. Regardless of your reasons, there are cheaper, easier, and more environmentally friendly ways to drink your daily H2O.
Bottled Water Hurts the PlanetOne reason to consider quitting bottled water is to save our already at-risk environment. Sure, you might recycle, but did you know that about 80% of plastic water bottles end up in landfills anyway? It takes 450 years for a single plastic water bottle to decompose, meaning they’re not going anywhere soon. Animals face harm due to water bottles, too.
Even before you finish drinking your water bottle, it’s already harmed the environment. It takes three times as much water to manufacture water bottles as it takes to fill them. Polyethylene (PE), the material used for most water bottles, is the most common type of plastic. Roughly 80 million tons of it are produced per year, requiring large amounts of fossil fuels that further pollute the earth.
It’s an Expensive HabitIt’s clear that you’re shelling out extra money each time you buy a bottle of water. But how much more are you really spending compared to using tap water? The answer is shocking. Approximately 4,787 plastic bottles could be filled with around $2.10 worth of tap water. That means when you buy a $1 bottled water, you’re paying 2,279 times more than what you would have on that same amount of tap water.
Look at it this way: you’ll spend anywhere from $0.08 to $2 on a 500-mL bottle of water, whereas you spend less than a penny on the same amount of tap water. The kicker is that tap water is most often safe as it is. Sometimes it's even safer than bottled water. Bottled water is really only necessary in natural disasters or situations where water sources are contaminated. So why pay so much more money for something you don’t need?
Making the Switch from Bottled WaterThe good news is that about 71% of the planet is covered with water -- and it flows right into your home, where you can filter and bottle it yourself. There are many other ways to enjoy drinking water without using plastic water bottles. Whatever your reason for preferring bottled water, there’s likely another way to meet that need. Here are some ideas for making the switch.
Put It In a Reusable ContainerIt might seem too simple, but why keep buying water bottles when you can fill your own repeatedly for nearly free? If you need the convenience of water on the go, you can easily get a durable, reusable, and easy-to-wash water bottle. Stainless steel options are great because they don’t rust or grow mold inside. Plus, many water bottles these days have extra features like speakers, storage for drink powders, or hooks for carrying.
For water at home, fill an empty juice bottle or milk jug with water and keep it in the fridge. It will be nice and cool every time you want a drink. A filter pitcher is another great option for cold, filtered water on demand. At a bare minimum, simply reusing empty water bottles by refilling them can make a difference, too -- though you should be careful about doing so, as this can leach chemicals or encourage bacterial growth.
For icy-cold water on the go, try filling used plastic water bottles with a few ounces of water and freezing them. When you’re ready for a cold bottle, fill one of these frozen bottles with tap water. You’ll have slowly melting ice to keep your water cool.
Purchase Refillable JugsIf you simply don’t like the taste of tap water, you might consider purchasing five-gallon refillable jugs of purified water. When your jug is empty, you trade it for a full one; that way, there is no plastic waste. There are even water jug delivery services for your convenience. These methods cost more than simply using tap water, but they’re still cheaper than buying plastic water bottles.
Drink Clean and Filtered Tap WaterIf you’re nervous about the quality of your water, look up the water testing results by your local agency. That way, you can see just what you’re drinking. Most likely, it's extremely safe. In fact, tap water is generally considered safer than bottled water because it’s better regulated. However, filtration can help water taste cleaner.
One way to begin is by buying a test kit for your home’s water. This may help you identify which type of filtration system would help the most. High chlorine levels often cause people to dislike the taste of tap water. This problem can be solved by leaving water on the counter so the chlorine can evaporate.
Other ways to filter include:
- Individual water bottles with built-in filters
- Water pitchers with built-in filters
- Faucet filters
- Home filtration systems
- Water softeners to remove bad-tasting minerals
- Boiling water to eliminate undesirable tastes and toxins