CLEAR WATER BLOG
Do you drink tap water? Use tap water for tea and coffee? What about when you take water to drink when out and about, be it school, work, gym or a run, do you buy your water bottled or do you fill a water bottle straight from your tap?
Getting purer drinking water, whether because of health concerns or flavour, is one of the main reasons people use water filters in their homes. And it’s one of the main reasons (apart from convenience) for buying bottled water.
Which is better, though? Filtered or bottled?
As it’s often the case, both options have advantages, but the winner is pretty clear: filtered water beats bottled water on pretty much all criteria. Dubious? Read on.
Bottled water: convenience & availability
To be fair, we will begin with advantages of bottled water.
The main one is convenience: it’s very widely available, it’s already handily packed in a (hopefully) hygienic container; the bottles are light and disposable. These advantages apply mostly to on-the-go hydration.
When bought for consumption out-of-home, bottled water is often available readily chilled, and if you want a hint of flavour or some bubbles, these options are catered to as well. Just grab a bottle for hydration on the go!
Filtered water is much more like tap water in this respect: you need to pour it into a suitable container (which requires regular washing, especially if you flavour your water with a slice of lemon or a drop of dilutable squash), you need to actually remember to bring it with you, and you might need to carry it for a while before you need that drink.
Filtered water: as good for you -- or better -- than bottled
Filtered water is as good for you as bottled water, and in some cases might be better.
Many (especially cheaper) bottled water brands are simply tap water, filtered or/and otherwise purified, then packaged in those convenient plastic bottles and sold to us from every supermarket and convenience store. In fact, unless the origin of the bottled water is specified on the bottle (such waters are often sold as ‘’mineral water’’) it’s quite likely that the water has been filtered using exactly the same technologies that are used in home water filtration.
Surprisingly, in the UK there are more stringent regulations on providers of tap water than on producers of bottled water -- for example tap water has to be tested much more frequently than bottled water at source!
Tap water is packed in plastic bottles, and there is some evidence that under the influence of sunlight, harmful bisphenol A (BPA) can leach into the water from the plastic.
Filtered water is cheaper
Prices vary, but it’s estimated that bottled water can be as much as 250 to 10,000 times more expensive than the filtered water. We pay for convenience and packaging, but we also pay for the massive marketing efforts designed to persuade us to buy water at 500% price premiums. Did you know that the cost of the actual water makes up only 10% of the price of bottled water?
Filtered water is much, much better for the environment
This is the biggest advantage of filtering tap water. The bottled water industry is incredibly wasteful, unaccountable and harmful to the environment in several ways.
Firstly, there are the bottles: production of plastic and dealing with the huge amounts of plastic waste generated by disposable bottles is a major strain on the world’s resources -- and in most cases, completely unnecessary. Most bottles end up in landfill or incinerated (burning plastic isn’t ideal either).
Secondly, bottled water is transported using fossil fuels, sometimes at great distances. Even if this was slightly more justified for special-composition mineral waters, it often occurs for corporate logistic reasons with water that’s no different from purified tap water from the public supply. Recycled empty bottles are often transported over huge distances, even as far as China. No wonder it’s expensive!
Glass bottles don’t generate the mountains of waste, but production of glass also has environmental consequences, while the transport of heavier bottles uses more fuel.
And finally, extraction of water for bottling can damage local environment, and deprive local people and whole ecosystems of water they need to flourish.
Comparing the pros and cons of filtered and bottled water, the choice is obvious: for use at home, filtered tap water wins hands down, and should be also used when out-and-about if possible.
Installing a water filtration system at home, a fridge with a filter, or even buying a simple jug filter will give you a much cheaper, much more environmentally friendly way to hydrate at home. A little bit of forethought (basically, fill up your bottle and don’t forget to bring it with you) will help you avoid expense and waste when out and about.
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