Some bottled water thoughts (and maybe some rants)

Ok, definitely some rants.

On Sunday afternoon, Mr. FG and I watched Tapped, a documentary about bottled water.

I have never been a fan of bottled water, and so I expected to be in agreement with the message of the documentary. I did not expect to be so completely and utterly disgusted by the production practices, and I didn’t expect to feel so depressed.

I’ve always known that bottled water is insanely expensive (I think the mark-up is something like 1900 times).

I’ve known for quite a while now that a lot of bottled water is merely filtered tap water (Aquafina and Dasani are two such products).

And I’ve thought for quite some time that the amount of plastic produced by the bottled water industry is unnecessary and excessive.

But I never really thought before about where bottled water comes from. Tapped showed how a Nestle company, Poland Springs, scouts out areas where water laws aren’t very well thought out (like in Maine), quietly buys up land, and trucks the water out.

And they showed how bottled water plants in Georgia and North Carolina pump millions of gallons of water out of the public supply in the midst of a drought. People are on water restrictions, public reservoirs are drying up, and the local bottled water plants just keep on chugging along, bottling water, packaging it, and shipping it off to places where people already have access to water.

Seeing that practically made me want to cry.

Also, I have always assumed that though bottled water is unnecessary, expensive, and wasteful, it is at least pure.

Not so. Bottled water is very loosely regulated (the equivalent of half a person at the FDA is in charge of the whole bottled water industry), the bottled water companies are responsible for their own testing, and they don’t make the results of their tests public.

In contrast, tap water has to be tested between 300 and 400 times per MONTH, depending on the population of the area, and the test results are made public.

The makers of Tapped sent several different brands of water off to two independent test labs and the results were read by someone independent of those two labs. The bottled water contained stuff like styrene and phthlates.

Pure? Not so much.

And the tests they did on bottled water that had sat in a car trunk for a week were even worse (the plastic bottles that are supposed to be so safe appear not to be).

And then there is the matter of the production/waste of those plastic bottles. I was so disheartened to hear about how few plastic bottles get recycled (people drink water on the go and don’t want to bring the bottle home to recycle it.). So they just throw it away, and an amazing number of these bottles end up in the Pacific Ocean.

Plastic bottle deposit programs (I’m a little confused about how they work, but I know they end up costing the manufacturer in some way) increase the recycling rate to something like 97%, but bottled water companies steadfastly resist this idea, and instead say they support curbside recycling (which isn’t very effective since people drink bottled water on the go, not at home).

Of course they support curbside recycling. Because that program is paid for by taxes, and it doesn’t cut into their almighty bottom line.

Bottled water bottles are obviously made from oil, and Tapped showed an oil refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas. The health problems experienced by the people who live near the ever-growing refinery broke my heart. Often we think of pollution just in terms of what it does to the environment, but this documentary reminded me of the impact it has on people (as an example, the cancer rate in that county is 80% higher than elsewhere in Texas).

I know that the bottled water industry is not the only one that uses oil or that uses water, but what makes me so frustrated about it is that it is almost completely and utterly unnecessary.

Here in the U.S., we have a tap water system available to us that is tested rigorously, that costs almost nothing, and that produces no plastic.

Bottled water is expensive.

Bottled water requires plastic bottles, many of which are not recycled, and even the ones that are still use energy (recycling plants have to have energy to run).

And a lot of bottled water is just TAP WATER anyway!

So, why in the world are we spending more than 100 billion a year on bottled water??

I think we’ve been duped by the bottled water industry’s clever marketing. They want us to think that tap water is dirty and gross and unsafe, and that the only way to get pure water is to buy their product (a higher-up in a bottled water company said plain and simply that tap water is the enemy).

Also, I think we are a culture of convenience. We like to have water with us but we don’t want to bother to actually fill it up, carry it with us, carry it back home with us, and wash it.

Alternatives

I feel quite convinced that the bottled water industry is a money-making machine that doesn’t care about the environment or even about our health. I’m not in a place where I can make laws against them or do something big, though, and you probably aren’t either.

But, we consumers hold an enormous amount of power here because if we don’t buy the water, the manufacturers will not produce it.

Would you consider helping to dry up the bottled water market?

I know that a number of you will comment and share that your water tastes bad or is unsafe.

But, for every person that truly does have bad water (and after watching Tapped, I’m not at all sure bottled water is going to be any safer for you!), I’m positive that there are many more whose tap water is perfectly potable.

If your water tastes icky, buy a filter. When Mr. FG and I rented our basement apartment, we thought the water had a weird taste. One Brita pitcher later, we were happily drinking the tap water. Our Brita Pitcher costs $22.99 on Amazon, and even with the continued cost of new filters, you’re going to recoup your cost in no time if you quit drinking bottled water.

If you don’t trust a Brita filter, consider one that fits onto your tap, or one that’s a little more involved. Over time, even the more expensive systems will pay for themselves.

Also, consider buying a good water bottle, like a Klean Kanteen . We own six Klean Kanteens, one for each of us, and we love them. Klean Kanteens don’t come cheap, but I actually think that’s a good thing. If you’ve forked over $15 for a stainless steel bottle, you’ll value it enough to keep track of it and reuse it.

I know some of the ideas I share on my blog take time to implement, and I know they won’t work for everyone. But I really think that everyone on the planet has time to run their water through a filter (if they feel it’s necessary) and fill up a water bottle. It just doesn’t take THAT long. If you don’t have time to do it, you probably don’t have time to read my blog (and I’d be thrilled if you gave up reading my blog in order to have time to give up bottled water!).

And if you don’t buy bottled water, you won’t have to lug cases of it to your car, out of your car, and into your house, so you might even save time by giving it up.

Give it a try, won’t you? Tap water is a win, win, win, win situation in almost every case, and I strongly urge you to join me in making it your beverage of choice.

Today’s 365 post: Can you tell what we’re storing our paints in?

Comments

  1. Christy says

    The local health department has told us our well water is unsafe to drink. Instead of small bottles of water we try to buy the big jugs that go on a cooler. I’m not sure that it’s much better but it is local water and it creates less waste than the small bottles. We use our water bottles from Costco to carry around with us.

    • Elizabeth says

      I suggest a filtering system..they have them for well water (they actually kill the bacterial contaminants and remove the particulates).
      And recycle!
      Also, bottled water doesn’t have flouride. Keep an eye on your kids’ teeth.

      • Christy says

        We actually have a filtering system (we have natural gas in our water) but it doesn’t work well.
        My husband is a crazy recycler. Everything gets recycled here. The large jugs gets returned to the store to be re-filled.
        We don’t have any children, so no worries there.

  2. Sarah D says

    We were alerted to the dangers of bottled water a couple of years ago. The phthalates in the bottling alone were enough to convince us. As to the source of the “better” bottled waters like Poland Spring, my husband had a funny comment. He envisions a dead raccoon or squirrel right at the source of the “spring”. When you think about it, there is a real possibility that your “pure” spring water came into contact with any number of things along the way. Yuk.

  3. says

    I watched Tapped a few weeks ago and had similar reactions when I went to write a review of it. I did what I usually do, and came up with some ways I could help (it makes me feel a little better when a documentary makes me so angry and sad) 1) I did give up bottled water entirely (so I’m with you there!). I haven’t bought or accepted one since. 2) I’m also hoping to replace my plastic containers with glass containers. 3) I will recycle any plastic bottles I come in contact with. If I see one on the street, I’ll take it home. Same, if I see a friend start to throw one away.

    We have a Britta Filter and several reusable water bottles (probably about 8 between two of us). We have so many because when we go on road trips, I fill all the reusable bottles up and put them in a cooler. They work for us now exactly how my parents used plastic bottles when I was growing up.

    • April says

      Cyndel, these are awesome ideas! I stopped buying bottled water a few years ago, and finally got my husband on board after my last pregnancy. What happened was when I was pregnant (3 times) and my senses were in their heightened state, when I drank bottled water all I could taste was chemicals and plastic, and would rather go without that drink it. My husband bought every brand out there for me and with the exception of the ones in glass bottles, I couldn’t drink any of it. I had no problem however drinking filtered water from our Brita pitcher, as long as the filter was good, it could tell as soon as it wasn’t anymore right away. I always figured it must be the plastic leaching into the water. When I was young I worked at a grocery store and I remember the bottled water sitting out on the loading deck in the hot sun for hours before coming in because it wasn’t “perishable”. Everyone will make their own decision about this, but I will not buy bottled water. I just bring a refillable water bottle for everyone when we go out, and if by some chance I find a plastic water bottle, I also tend to bring it home if I can’t find a recycle trash can. Just because I’m a recycling freak, and it bugs me if I don’t..HA!

  4. Mindy says

    I agree with you 100%! We drink water from our tap- which is filtered through a Brita pitcher to take out any funny tastes, and it is the best tasting water IMO. Last weekend my husband was doing some plumbing upgrades in our basement and one of those was to install a whole house water filter. It was not too expensive and I would recommend it to anyone. I can’t imagine how much our grocery bill would go up if we bought bottled water, let alone the negative effects on the enviroment. Oh yeah, and water is about 90% of what we drink in our house. We only have soda for when company comes over as there are some people who just refuse to drink water.

  5. Melissa L. says

    We have truly nasty tasting water here in New Orleans. If it sits for an hour or so, it gets a weird pinky-orange film on it. I am SO ashamed at the amount of bottled water I have bought in the past!! About a year ago I got a Brita pitcher and I just keep filling up the hubby’s “gourmet” water bottles and he says that it tastes even better than store bought. Of course it does…it is actually filtered LOL! We got the pitcher almost free with a coupon and also get highly discounted filters with coupons as well, so needless to say we will NEVER go back to buying bottled water and suporting companies that have no accountability for their practices.

    • Kristen says

      Yay! I love our Brita. The water in our old apartment had this weird dusty taste to it…like an odd aftertaste. The Brita took care of that with no problems.

  6. says

    You can often get the Kleen Kanteen bottles on sale at LLBean. I bought the larger sized ones w/ the extra spout lids for around $11-12 each. The kids even got cool designs!

  7. says

    Wow, I’ll have to put “Tapped” on our list of movies to watch. We don’t use plastic water bottles at home, as I always found them to be expensive. Hubby, myself and the girls all have their own waterbottle that we carry around with us. I don’t find the plastic ones hold up very well, so we have gotten different stainless steel ones from different places. I’ve even gotten “Sigg” bottles from a store in our area called “Homesense” which is a discount store for home furnishings and supplies. Your right, for the cost of these bottles, $5-$12 per bottle, your cost is recouped very quickly. We are lucky that in our city, our water tastes fine, so we have never needed to filter it.

  8. Lauri says

    I’ll have to add ‘Tapped’ to my documentary list. I’ve given up bottled water for about a year or so now, but after reading your post I plan on being much more diligent in my efforts to recycle plastic bottles and carry my own bottles around for me and my family.

    Thank you so much for the post – your blog is fabulous!

  9. says

    I am so disappointed that Poland Springs sold out to Nestle! It used to be a deep well mineral spring in my native Maine, and production was limited. It came in glass bottles and was considered a tonic. We drank it like soda – as a special treat. Now it is just plain old carbonated well water. Maine is riddled with artesian springs; but it is too bad that farm land is being bought to convert it into water mines!

  10. Linda says

    I have a deep well and my water tastes great! We only buy bottled water when we go on vacation out of the country. Each of use has a refillable water bottle. I also have a refillable cup when I go to my favorite coffee place for ice coffee. It saves me money on my coffee and also saves the waste.

    • Virginia Dare says

      Linda, an excellent point about bottled water when you are on a relatively short trip abroad. Even the tap water in developed countries could make you ill (not necessarily with disease–just uncomfortable for a few days) because the usually harmless mircoorganisms and minerals in that water supply might be different than the ones in your home town, which can aggravate your digestive system. When we went on a trip to Paris, we bought single-serve bottles of water a few times but they were outrageously expensive, both at McDonalds and at convenience stores. 0.5 liter bottles were running 2 to 4 Euros each! I asked the staff at our hotel if there was a grocer nearby, and 2 blocks away there was. I bought a 5-liter jug of water for 1.40 Euros and refilled the bottles we already had as needed for the remainder of the trip. Here’s the kicker: other people on the trip with us (it was a club to which my relative belongs) LAUGHED AT US. Adults. Like, pointed and laughed. On more than one occasion. Apparently our jug of water was…hilarious? I don’t get it. At that time, I didn’t yet know all the environmental issues with bottled water, so my sole concern was frugality. But years later when I went on my absolutely not frugal honeymoon in Latin America and stayed at a nice resort, I did the exact same thing! I also saved and toted around for later in the day all the half-drunk Diet Cokes I came into, since you are given a fresh .5 liter soda every time you order a cocktail. No shame in my game! :-)

      • Lynne says

        Options for travelers are relatively CHEAP. Filters, purifiers and tablets take away anything sensitive tummies can’t handle. Inexpensive options like the aqua straw are used in countries where the water it totally non-potable. Backpackers can (and do…I have) used relatively inexpensive options like these to drink from disgusting sources without getting sick.

  11. says

    I respectfully disagree on several of your points but agree that in *most* situations tap is fine. However, where my mother lives, the water company has sent out messages saying the community’s water is unsafe for human consumption due to a local steel company’s illegal dumping. No brita filter is going to untaint it. So she is forced to either consume no water or buy it at a store. Not everywhere in the US he access to safe tap water – something that a LOT of people either don’t know or don’t acknowledge.

    As a side note, the illegal practices of the steel company are in legal trials and it is likely that all residents affected will be heavily compensated for their out of pocket bottled water expenses.

    • Kristen says

      In a case like that, I think bottled water IS a better alternative. I’m not arguing against that kind of bottled water usage…I’m arguing against the, “tap water is gross” and the “filling up a water bottle is too hard” kind of usage.

      I think bottled water should be available for situations like your mother’s, but I don’t think it needs to be a multi-billion dollar business.

    • Christine says

      Amy:

      The fact that not everyone in the US has access to safe tap water is not a reason to support bottled water companies (except by necessity). It is a reason to change their local laws so that the individuals and corporations who are damaging the local water supply are required to compensate the other users for their contamination.

      This is not a “nanny state” issue, as so many people on the political spectrum would like to portray it. This is an issue of corporations being forced to internalize the true costs of their production as opposed to externalizing it to the rest of us to increase the profit margin for their shareholders. If your mother’s water isn’t worth drinking, she should vote against whatever political party passed the laws that made that kind of pollution legal. And if it doesn’t get fixed next time, she should vote again, and again, and again, until it does.

      Thanks, Kristen, for your thoughtful remarks.

      • Kristen says

        Totally agree. I think that clean public water is something worth spending tax dollars on, and heaven knows I’m not overly inclined to support tax spending.

      • says

        LOL so you think she votes WITH them? Your assumptions are wrong, your attitude is poor, and your condescending tone unnecessary. I support the industry in cases like hers where otherwise she’d be drinking toxic waste. You don’t have to do the same, but the “voting will save everything!” attitude is not only ridiculously idealistic but not working when practiced.

        • Lynne says

          A bit over the top (understatement), Amy. The overall post (and documentary) was obviously about MARKETED bottled water. We went from a country who scoffed at such a silly thing as paying for bottled water (except, of course, people in your mother’s situation — a TOTALLY different thing) to believing the idea that ALL tap water is awful. Community tap water is tested by law. If your municipality’s water is unsafe, drink bottled (or filter and chemically treat, depending on need), and vote accordingly. If others (not your mother obviously) are drinking bottled without bothering to learn about their local water supply…this post is for THEM.

          • Amy says

            It is over the top for me to say that I respectfully disagree with some points? I wasn’t remarking to Kristen about being rude, it was the snarky comment from Christine that I was addressing. In fact, I hadn’t seen that Kristen replied until after the response to Christine was posted.

            Disagreeing with someone isn’t over the top, in my mind. But however you see it is how you see it.

  12. Denise says

    While I don’t disagree with you, Kristen, I do have to say that bottled water offers an alternative to sugary soft drinks, and I’d hate to see that option go by the wayside. I think the benefit of people choosing water rather than soda has to be taken into account. Our family does use refillable water bottles, but occassionally we are caught out and about later than we’ve planned for. I’d much rather buy bottled water to drink than most of the other options out there. It might not be ‘better’ than tap water but surely it is better than soda.

    • Carmen says

      Denise, that is a very good point!

      We usually get caught out a few times during the Summer (if only by 1 very thirsty child) when we’re out and about for longer than anticipated. Additionally, if we go out for an entire day, we never take as much drink as we know we’ll need; it would be far too heavy to take several (5 minimum?) drinks for every member of our 4 person family. It’s more important than usual to keep hydration adequate on a hot day involving a lot of physical activity/exercise.

      Having said that, we very rarely opt for sodas, but choose water or fruit juice instead.

      But I do agree with Kristen’s sentiment and believe there is a lot of room for improvement.

    • maria in chicago says

      I am not sure I understand this. The original post is very pro-water and certainly does not make a case for soda. ;-) Sure, bottled water is a better alternative to soft drinks from a health-for-your-body perspective, but the filtered-tap-water option is an even better alternative from both the health-for-your-body and health-for-the-planet perspectives. It simply takes more planning.

    • Kristen says

      Again, I’m not so much ticked off about that kind of usage….I’m frustrated with the habitual purchasing of cases of water for homes where the tap water is perfectly potable and safe.

      • Kristen says

        And I should add that I am definitely no fan of soda…I’m not at all defending that as a better option.

        After watching King Corn and Tapped back to back, I’m freshly inspired to minimize any purchase of beverages in plastic bottles. Our weekly soda with our pizza is getting kicked to the curb, in fact.

        • Virginia Dare says

          Two words for you: Soda Stream. LOL my husband asked for this for our anniversary, and not only is it fun but it really great. You make your own carbonated beverages at home. it literally takes seconds, and the machine does not use any electricity. I know you guys don’t drink a lot of soda, but my husband would drink seltzer (meaning unflavored carbonated water) exclusively if he could manage. We make it from tap water, and it is yummy to have a practically limitless supply.

    • says

      The answer: buy resuable water bottles with filters. Bobble.com has them. They come in different sizes and make any tap water drinkable. You can fill them from a water fountain.

  13. says

    oh Kristen, why some people buy bottled really is beyond me.

    Granted, some people need it but most don’t.
    Even here, in Portugal, our drinking water is 100% safe yet our upstairs neighbours buy gallons and gallons of bottled water (although admittedly it is cheap here at around 30c (that’s Euro cents) for a 5ltr tub)

    I wouldn’t be suprised if it was just someone else’s tap water though (maybe I’ll look at what the bottle says someday)

    We do have a huge wealth of natural springs here in Portugal so I guess there is some local stuff on sale also (tbh I’ve never looked) but I do wonder what makes our neighbours buy it when their water is just the same as ours (same building!) and we all drink it!

  14. april replogle says

    Hi Krisitn, I actually work for a bottled water company and have to raise some points. You are addressing the large corporations that produce bottled water. Just like with any other product large corporations do things that should be frowned upon. There are several small local companies that produce bottled water as well. We travel about half an hour in our tankers to truck in our natural spring water. We deal with all local companies for our raw materials. The mainstay of our business is 5 gallon bottles which are reused several hundred times and recycled at the end of their life. There is no waste. I am always remiss to see articles and movies such as the one you are describing because they hurt us (a company doing the right thing) and do not tell the whole story. You purchase your chicken from a small local farm rather than from Tyson, correct? Well, why not support the same principal with bottled water? We are without a doubt regulated by the FDA and the Department of Agriculture. We never tell people that our water is better than tap however, it tastes much better that is for sure. And there is no chlorine, I dont enjoy drinking pool water. If you want to put us out of business that is your purgative however, when there is a natural disaster or water main break or a million other things that go wrong with tap water, we won’t be there anymore to DONATE truck loads upon truck loads of water to those in need. Then what? Who will you turn to? I do like your ideas about water filters. Most good water companies will also sell water filters as we do. I love your blog! I just have to pipe up when it comes to this subject!

    • Kristen says

      I do appreciate bottled water’s place in natural disasters, yes. And I certainly could be much more supportive of your company than of the large corporations. I don’t think companies like yours are the main problem.

      Still, though, if I lived where your company is, I’d drink tap water as chlorine can easily be removed with filtering.

      I do feel like in your comment that you’re saying bottled water is better than tap water (“I don’t enjoy drinking pool water”). Tap water isn’t quite the same as pool water. ;)

      • april replogle says

        Thanks, I appreciate that you said you can support us sooner than a large corporation, I just wish they would show bottled water alternatives in the documentary rather than try to run us out of business. Tap water = pool water until it is filtered, I should have added that because you are right it makes it sound like I am saying bottled is better. We simply dont push the portable smaller size bottles we treat those exactly like everyone is saying- a treat. We encourage our customers to refill them from their water cooler or filter. We push filters because quite frankly they are more profitable than bottled water. So we are agreeing I think?!

        • Kristen says

          Well, pool water has things like muriatic acid added to it. =P

          I do think it’s good that your company pushes refillable jugs and filters. The large bottled water corporations are pushing the little bottles, and that’s it…I don’t think brand like Aquafina come in jugs, and they certainly don’t refill bottles (not that they should refill the ones they sell…they’re not even made of great plastic for one filling, much less multiple fillings).

          • april replogle says

            I have noticed they are selling the thinner and thinner plastic. They do push them, you are right, they are every where. And it amazes me how cheap they can sell them for since it is so much packaging. I have seen a case of 24 for $2.99, being in the bottled water business and knowing how much things cost, I dont know how that is possible. I am sitting at my desk drinking from my refillable stainless steel water bottle that you inspired me to purchase! I refill it a few times from our water cooler. By the way a great place to get the stainless steel bottles is believe it or not Old Navy. I have bought 10 or so there for my daughter and I, all from their clearance section for under a dollar each!

  15. Battra92 says

    I’ve never been a fan of anti-corporation Shockumentaries so I can’t comment directly on Tapped.

    What I can comment on is how I wish my landlord would invest in a good water softener. It’s not fun when your water is brown due to high iron deposits.

  16. Tana says

    I’m a new reader, and wanted to unlurk and say I agree with you. I grew up on well water and do not like the taste of “city water” from the tap. Now I live in a big city and cringe at the idea of drinking the tap water. So, I bought a Brita pitcher. But I was still buying bottles of water at school until my husband bought me a really neat new water filter system that comes with four bottles. I take one to school everyday. It is made by Filtrete and is $40 at target.

  17. says

    While I’m sure there are situations where tap water is unsafe to drink, so many times that “funny taste” you mentioned deters people from even filtering water. My husband is a self-described “water-snob” and he says our filtered water is great. In college we even had the brown tinted water problem and the Brita pitcher took care of that water as well. They are an up-front investment, but well worth it!

  18. maria in chicago says

    Very happy to see you address this. Unfortunately, the health of our bodies and our environment are pushed aside in favor of the almighty dollar here in America. I believe this is the best place in the world to live, but this is one of our glaring faults. Where some companies can make make a profit, they will. And we consumers fall for that clever marketing all the time.

    My parents have filtered their water for as long as I can remember. They started with Brita filters and upgraded to some fancy machine that sits in their basement (and fills an enormous container they lug to the kitchen refrigerator). All their Lake Michigan drinking water is filtered this way, and it tastes great. I use a Brita filter that attaches to the tap in my apartment–it has a finish that matches that of the sink, so it’s aesthetically pleasing, too. I love it–I drink water and hot tea all day, never soft drinks except with the occasional cocktail when I go out. ;-)

    I had a college roommate who wouldn’t drink water from my Brita pitcher in our shared mini fridge. She thought it tasted “funny,” but she simply wasn’t used to it. Her mom bought her bottled water by the case, and I cringe to think of the unnecessary waste sitting in the landfill. And to think that–as you point out–the quality of that water probably was no better than what comes straight from the tap.

  19. Lindsey says

    I agree that bottled water is terrible for the environment & a waste of money, but I fall in the camp of I have to buy my drinking water. Our city water is pulled from an EPA Superfund Site, and the treatments the city does to make it ‘safe’ include chlorinating, salting, & carbonating it at the plant. It give my family a tummy ache to drink it! If we could afford a reverse osmosis system (they say that makes the water safe too) we would gladly give up our bottled water habit! One downside though is that RO wastes as much water as it purifies, so that is factored into our cost. We do buy the large containers of water that is RO at the store, so we know that a in-home system would be decent.

  20. Erika says

    As some have mentioned, when on the run it can be hard to always plan ahead. Sometimes you get stuck and end up buying something from a vending machine or gas station. C’est la vie.

    However, I’m totally with you on this, Kristen. I think the easiest way to STOP using bottled water is to just stop buying it (especially in bulk). Don’t put the cases of it in your cart at the store. If it’s not in the house, everyone will adapt. Same with paper napkins, paper towels, and the like.

  21. Mary Kate says

    For those with Netflix streaming/Instant Play Tapped is available there. I can’t wait to watch it. We have for many, many years used a distiller that also filters the water. It makes the water taste great, but it does use a little electrictiy.

  22. Carole says

    Bottled water always seemed silly to me. I’m glad my thinking wasn’t just old fashioned. I do feel sorry people who have wasted their money. I heard recently that people who aren’t using tap water are not getting fluoridation and they are getting cavities. I know that most of the readers are probably anti-fluoridation so that comment will probably provoke an argument.

  23. says

    So glad you brought this up! Bottled water totally annoys me. We quit buying it about 4 years ago and haven’t looked back. We drink filtered city water that comes through the refrigerator. Tastes great. We all use refillable water bottles. I hate seeing all the people at our gym walking around with not one but two bottles of water all the time. I’ve even tried to explain it to some of my gym friends….no luck. Hoping this is one of those phases that gets phased out by the time our kids become adults.

  24. says

    I agree that there are things you can do to make your tap water taste fine. My parents have well water and it tastes/smells disgustingly of sulpher. But all my step-dad did was install a filter on our sink and problem solved!

  25. Bellen says

    Every time I go to the store – no matter if it’s a big box store, discount or grocery – I seem to be the only one not buying a case of bottled water or carrying a purchased bottle of water. We found stainless steel water bottles at our local Big Lots store for and amazing $2.99 – the cashier told us she’d called everyone she could think of to tell them of the great deal. We fill them with tap water and refrigerate at night – cold water to go. At home I have 2 glass quart bottles that are square so fit well on the refrig door – they are kept filled with tap water or peppermint water (one tea bag of peppermint tea per bottle) that we drink all day.

    I cannot fathom why people would buy water – the cost, the cost of producing, the waste of resources and the waste as so many do not recycle the bottles. The only time we used bottled water and it was free, was for 1 week after Hurricane Charlie ruined our water system. We now a system for water storage in glass and recyclable containers for disaster – never going the bottled water route again.

    • says

      peppermint water sounds lovely!
      Do you just add the peppermint teabag to the cold water in the jug? How long do you leave it in there?
      I must try this :-)

  26. WilliamB says

    It pains me to see folk buying flats and flats of small bottles of water for their homes. So much waste, money, and lugging!

    I live in an area that has a water emergency every 10 or 15 years, sometimes including bacteria (such as giardia cryptosporidium) and not just particulates. So I needed a filter that the usual, plus lead, giardia, and crypto. Brita fit the bill.

    I still I happily drink tap water and resist bottled water at restaurants. Usually I use filtered water at home but recently put it away because I’m in a “damn tired of clutter” phase. I admit to buying the occasional bottle of water when I’m out and caught short. Whether I recycle the bottle depends on circumstances.

    Note to airline passengers: you can take empty bottles through security. Which means you can take an empty from home (I recommend plastic because they can’t see through a metal canteen) and fill it after you clear security.

    • Kristen says

      Amen on the lugging. I would be loathe to put forth the effort to bring bottled water home…too much work. lol

    • Vanessa says

      FYI – I recently flew on Southwest and Frontier airlines: simply placed my stainless steel canteen in the bin with my laptop and shoes. After it went thru the machine, the TA official opened it to be sure it was empty, and straight thru security I went. Filled it at the water fountain. Done.

      Also, while on vacation, I was never asked to pay for ice water when I handed over the bottle. Even if I wasn’t making a purchase. I was happily shocked by this.

      • Virginia Dare says

        Vanessa, me, too. I’ve taken my water bottle with my carry-on stuff, empty, and then filled it on the other side.

        Many posters here are lamenting that they can’t take “enough” water with them for a day or for their family. I refill my bottle for free all the time! Drinking fountains, that little “WATER” spigot that is located on many the soda fountains where you serve your own drinks (which you can find almost anywhere–casual restaurants, Target and Wal-Mart stores, grocery stores, etc.), and even at a sit-down restaurant–if your water bottle has a wide enough mouth, the server can fill it up with water just as easily as a glass. (same with coffee, FYI!) There is FREE water almost everywhere. And I’m not talking about sinks, here…real cold “drinking water.”

  27. says

    Does anyone have brand suggestions for a non-plastic water bottle that doesn’t make the water taste metalic-y? I have a few stainless steel bottles but I have a hard time using them because the metal taste is so strong. I use my plastic (re-usable) bottles instead, but they don’t seem as healthy a choice.

    • Molly says

      Stacey, I love my lifefactory water bottles. They are glass, reuseable, and have a sleeve on them to protect them from breaking. They go in the dishwasher, too. They are a bit pricey ($22), but I highly highly recommend them as an alternative to plastic or stainless steel bottles if you’re in the market for them.

    • Heidi says

      It may not be the solution you’re looking for, but I’m getting along well with my trust BPA-free Nalgene.

    • Meredith says

      I also love my life factory bottles. I prefer glass over stainless steel. I can also testify that I dropped one on my tile floor and it did not break thanks to the sleeve. They just added a 16 oz size too.

    • Kristen says

      I was going to suggest glass as well. Even an old Snapple bottle can work well, though the lids lose their effectiveness after a number of months.

  28. Amy says

    We keep a few glass pitchers filled with water in the fridge and only very rarely buy bottled water. The kids all use thermos bottles and I use reusable bottles for when I work out
    We buy some jugs of water to keep around during hurricane season

  29. says

    While I firmly and wholeheartedly agree with cutting bottled water at home, I have to say that I think boycotting bottled water completely misses some pretty important points. We treat it the same way we treat soda and fast food. It’s a treat. One that we don’ t have often. We never have it at home and we do our best to make wise choices when we are out. For us, that sometimes means bottled water.

    • Kristen says

      Yes. If everyone on the planet treated it that way, it wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar business. Bottled water would be available, but it wouldn’t be as ubiquitous as it is currently.

    • says

      You know, everytime I’m out I usually go for the “water” option. Not only because it’s a waste of plastic, but because it’s a lot cheaper (Some places charge $3 for a soda!).

      But I’ve come across restaurants, companies, vendors, etc. who refuse to supply me with tap water, won’t let me bring in my own water, or raise the cost of tap water to become more expensive than the plastic bottled water.

      They force the bottled water on you… and I won’t get into my spiel about carbonated waters… blah. It seems like you can’t get rid of this no matter what… and it’s something so easy too!

  30. priskill says

    Well, I thought I knew all the reasons NOT to buy water in plastic bottles, but this has offered even more. We have been on board with a Brita faucet filter system, which costs about as much as the pitcher but fits our (lazy!) lifestyle — we can’t be trusted to refill a pitcher — this way, fresh water is always available, and i just switch it back to tap if I am doing dishes or filling the rabbit’s water bottle (don’t hate me, bunny-o-philes). There are so many options, ALL of them cheaper than the bottled alternative, and clearly, healthier for all of us. I use a non=BPA plastic bottle and husband uses a Kleen Kanteen (too metally for me, too, Stacey).

    One note to the concern about having bottled water as a healthy option for kids, etc., at McD or other venue — I do see your point, and in that case, it would be easy to bring the occasional plastic bottle back home to curbside recycle, a great 2nd option. It would only be once in awhile, and you know the bottle won’t end up strangling a dolphin. Occasional use probably isn’t so terrible — it’s the thoughtless, ginomous everyday waste that this movie seems to be addressing.

    Excellent topic about which i thought i knew everything :) — Hah! There is always more to know and ways to expand my thinking. Thanks!

  31. Linda H. says

    I have always thought bottled water to be a crock from the get go and never buy it. I love my stainless steel water bottle. Good for the planet and keeps the water cold all day.

  32. says

    I totally agree with you. It amazes me how much people have bought into the bottled water industry’s idea of tap water as “dirty.” Unless I genuinely lived in an area with unsafe drinking water, I can’t imagine paying the huge markup for bottled water! We do have a Brita pitcher, and I love it. Not only does is it nice to have filtered water, but I love always having a pitcher of cold water in the fridge.

    I’m horrified by how few plastic water bottles are actually recycled.

  33. Peter says

    Bottle water is the perfect example of how the American consumer is so easily sold something that is not needed. Then what is very funny is that people actually become brand aware believing one brand filters the tap water better than another brand. Just amazing, isn’t it?

  34. abe says

    Another good documentary on water is FLOW .I am pretty sure it is on You Tube somewhere.

    It kinda makes me sick when I am in the grocery store and I see shelves upon shelves of bottled water,pop and juice.All of these use water from some ones municipal water source.It really is a crime.

    I pack a Kleen Kanteen with tap water and I add a lemon slice/lime slice for my kids wherever we go.It saves on buying drinks,keeps the water fresh and eliminates a ton of sugar from their diets per year I am sure.Great post F.G!

  35. Amanda O. says

    I love my Klean Kanteen. I’ve had mine for over 6 years now! Well worth the investment. Check out “The Story of Stuff: Bottled Water” if you’d like to watch a quick film about the issue.

  36. says

    wow…I don’t buy a lot of bottled water, but I am going to put a new pitcher and stainless steel water bottle on my grocery list today…thanks for the eye opener..you have changed at least one person today…

  37. Ang says

    I am just horrified! We do use bottled water because the baby was getting too much fluoride from the tap water. I don’t know what to do except not give him water at all. Any suggestions how to use tap without causing damage to a young ones teeth?

    • Kristen says

      I’d just used bottled water for your baby (he can’t use that much, after all!) and use regular for the rest of your family. Or perhaps there is a filter that removes the flouride?

      • Tara says

        Standard personal filters like Brita and PUR do not remove fluoride, but it is possible with other, higher end filters:
        http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryhowtoguide/a/removefluoride.htm

        Given that lots of bottled water is basically tap water, it may have fluoride in it too, so I’d have it tested or like someone above mentioned, find a small, local company that actually uses fresh spring water and confirm with them that it is not fluoridated.

    • WilliamB says

      Distilled water doesn’t have flouride and usually comes in the half or gallon size. I don’t know about pricing, it might be worth comparing the price in the drinks aisle with the prices in the contact lens aisle (it’s used in some contact cleaning processes).

      • Sarah says

        We use distilled water for our baby’s formula. I think it’s about 85 cents a gallon where we get it, and it lasts about a week, with the amount he is eating now. I just feel better using that then our tap water. But, we drink our tap water and RARELY buy bottled water. Only when we go camping, do we buy bottled water. People sometimes think I’m “nerdy” looking lugging around my re-fillable water bottle, but I’m okay with that! It’s free and I’m not shelling out almost $2 a bottle for water!!

  38. Stephanie says

    I decided years ago to stop buying the bottled water after I a read an article about the bottles not being recycleable. I have a Brita pitcher and filter on my faucet and I love it. The water taste just fine and now I can tell the difference if someone gives me water from a bottle. Kristin, thank you for mentioning the film “Tapped.” I am a high school librarian and this will be good for the students who take our environmental classes to see. We are always trying to find ways to make things better for the environment and the people.

  39. Linda says

    Well Said, Kristen!!!
    I have purchased 3 new still with their original labels on them stainless steel water bottles at second hand stores. The most expensive one put me back 99 cents. So if a $15 Kleen Kanteen isn’t in your budget just take a look at Goodwill or a similar store for a bargin.

  40. Brian says

    Bottle deposits in Oregon work as a surcharge on the purchase of the product. You pay an extra nickel when you buy something in a bottle, and get that nickel back when you return the bottle. Companies must fight the deposit because it’s raises the cost of their product to the consumer and in theory lowers the volume of sales.

    • Kristen says

      That’s what I thought. I think the movie also talked about a proposed 1 cent fee per bottle for the manufacturer or something, to offset all the recycling costs, and they were opposed to that as well (duh).

  41. Jenessa says

    I am not all surprised by how many bottles are not recycled. But that is because I live in a town (in the western US) that has absolutely no recycling available. We use re-useable water bottles (BPA-free Nalgene ones) both at home and work. We are fortunate enough that our water tastes fine without filtering. However I do like to keep some jugs of bottled water on hand in case of extended power outages.

    • Kristen says

      Yeah. And even when there IS recycling available, it’s not like that negates the negative impact of all that plastic. Recycling isn’t quite like composting or like re-using…the process itself uses resources, and the outcome is still another plastic product.

      I just hate it when companies are all, “Oh, well, our product is recyclable!” as if that give them a free pass to just produce plastic crap with no worries.

  42. Michelle says

    I rarely buy bottled water because I’m just too darn cheap. We have a whole drawer full of reusable water bottles (bought at Goodwill!) that the kids grab on their way to school or sports. But I didn’t realize all the other reasons to shun the bottles. Thanks for bringing the info to us!

    PS–we bought a MultiPure water filter for the kitchen. It was spendy (maybe $500?), and the filters cost about $50/year, but we drink a LOT of water (rarely juice or milk), so it’s paid for itself many times over.

  43. Tabitha says

    I live in Oregon and we had one of the first container deposit legislations in the country in the early 70’s. Every time you buy a bottle (or can) of soda, beer, etc (…and recently, bottled water!), you pay an additional 5 cent deposit per container. This applies whether you’re grabbing a quick drink at the convenience store or a 12 pack at the grocery store. You only get that 5 cents back if you later take those containers back to a store that sells that product.

    It costs the stores and distributers that sell those products more money for the recycling program – which is I’m sure when the beverage companies lobby against it. In some states, the unclaimed bottle deposits go towards environmental programs within the state government. In others, like Oregon, the distributers and bottlers keep those unclaimed deposits.

    The good aspect is that it double – triples the likelihood that those containers get recycled. I was shocked in some of my travelling to see containers lying on the ground as litter. You don’t see that often in Oregon, because – if nothing else – your neighborhood homeless person or tightwad would have snatched those up as ‘free money’. However, there’s a definite correlation between the cost to the consumer and whether the containers are returned. The value of the nickel has gone down over the last forty years and consequently so has redemption rates. (http://www.bottlebill.org/about/unclaimed.htm)

    It’s past time for us to take this seriously. Enjoyed this blog!

  44. Jeanine says

    I’ll have to agree with both Kristen and the person who works for a water bottling company.

    I live in a rural area where we have been under a boil water notice for so long, it’s a surprise to see it lifted. We never drink water from the tap, and since the well hasn’t been treated and tested in a number of years, we don’t use that either.

    For a while we tried a filter, but you’re supposed to go thru a filter about every month or so…..not every day :*(

    We do use a local service, and save by picking it up as opposed to having it delivered.

    I really wish that there was a way to speak /protest to the city about their water testing practices. The reason the water here is under scrutiny is because for years…almost a decade, a local chemical plant dumped the by products into the water supply. They got away with it because the city “overcharged” their property tax. And not a single elected leader spoke against it.

    That, to me, is just as big a problem as the h2o companies making money hand over fist for something, that is essentialy(sp) free….

  45. Leslie says

    This documentary is more of a propaganda film than actual facts. As a follower of Christ,it is important to me to not be wasteful. This film follows more of the path of the so called ‘global warming is now called climate change’ agenda. Their message is more,”you are a horrible person and you are destroying the earth if you use petroleum products”. Sorry,but I am not sold on the progressive’s political agenda so easily.

    • says

      Regardless of whether you believe in global warming/climate change, wasting the world’s resources to produce and transport bottles of something you can just as easily and safely get from the tap without using ups those resources does go against your belief in not being wasteful. Unnecessarily spending money on bottled water is also wasteful.

    • susan says

      What? I don’t like to get testy on blogs but come on! Have you seen the documentary? There are so many points made by the film makers. I am so frustrated by comments like this.

    • Katy says

      Leslie, I’d be interested to know if you have actually seen this documentary yet, or if you are simply reporting what you have seen or heard from Fox.

  46. says

    I recall how appalled I was when I saw my first bottled water for sale for $0.75. Really? people are that lazy, stupid or frivolous to buy a bottle of tap water? No, I never did buy the notion of this water being superior spring water. I’m not that gullible but to my horror many people were. I knew back then–could that truly be two decades ago???– that bottled water would be trouble and I was right. I have never bought one –no, that’s not quite true. I remember buying three frozen bottles just before going on a glass bottom boat tour, but I brought those bottles back home with us and recycled them. I’m with you on this fight, Kristen. I’m posting this on my own blogs if you don’t mind. This is too important not to pass it on.

  47. Jeri says

    Living in Mexico, it *really* isn’t safe for us to drink tap water (and a Brita filter won’t cut it, unfortunately). We buy the big 20L jugs, though, and trade them in for the new bottles, so we’re not contributing to all the plastic production/consumption. One thing I really miss about the US is being able to turn on the tap and drink the water.

  48. Kasey says

    I never purchased bottled water until I moved to a fairly dry climate. Now I try to have a week’s worth on hand, in case of emergencies, and it is good for that (big jugs, not little bottles…I do try :) ). If there’s an emergency here, it won’t just be that the water is unsafe (and therefore filters would help), it will be that there isn’t enough. Other than that, yeah, I don’t see a place for it in my life either.

  49. Wendy says

    We always have at least a 24 pack of water bottles in the garage. We keep track of the date and will drink the water and replace the 24 pack when the water is close to “expiring” …though we do recycle the water bottles. We live on the coast and have the water on hand to be prepared for hurricanes. So, I agree with your article, but do feel that in certain situations, bottled water is okay.

  50. says

    Jim Gaffigan did a really hilarious bit in one of his standup routines on the French discussing how to sucker Americans into buying water (Evian, naive backwards). It’s really true. Why do people think something that is practically free would be better for $2.00 a pop. And the two biggies Aquafina (Pepsi) and Dasanti (Coke) are just tap water. Amazing.

  51. says

    I can’t wait to watch “Tapped,” Kristen. It was good to read your post and all of the comments, but I do want to add a word of caution about carbon filters like Brita.

    In December, the Environmental Working Group released results from a study that found hexavalent chromium, a highly toxic form of chromium, is present in tap water throughout the U.S. Reverse osmosis filters do remove hexavalent chromium from tap water, along with toxins like arsenic and perchlorate (rocket fuel). Carbon filters both pitchers and tap-mounted units may be cheap and easy to use, but they only remove contaminants like lead NOT chromium-6. Just thought you’d like to know.

    • WilliamB says

      How much hexavalent chromium per gallon water, and how does that compare with Federal clean water standards?

      Did the report also report that arsenic and perchlorate (also used in dry cleaning) are broadly present in US drinking water. If so, same question as above: how much and how does that compare with Federal clean water standards. If not, then I’m not sure why you brought up those chemicals – please explain.

      • says

        William,

        Unfortunately there are no federal standards for the amount of chromium in tap water nationally, and water utilities aren’t required to test for it. California is the only state to set a standard on acceptable levels of hexavalent chromium in drinking water, and anything higher than 0.06 parts per billion (ppb) is deemed hazardous.

        According to the study results, hexavalent chromium was in tap water in 31 of 35 cities tested. More than 26 million people in these cities use the polluted tap water. (Norman, Okla., residents had 12.90 ppb in their tap water. Other cities with high levels included Honolulu, Hawaii, with 2.00 ppb; Riverside, Calif., with 1.69 ppb; Madison, Wis., with 1.58 ppb, and San Jose, Calif., with 1.34 ppb.) The toxin wasn’t found in all tap water, though. (Indianapolis, Ind., Plano, Texas, Las Vegas, Nev., and San Antonio, Texas, all had 0.00 ppb.)

        While it’s known that hexavalent chromium is a carcinogen when inhaled, research is starting to prove that it also is a carcinogen when ingested.

        I only brought up arsenic and perchlorate because, like hexavalent chromium, they’re carcinogens found in drinking water … and carbon filters like Brita don’t remove them. (To answer your questions, the EPA has set the arsenic standard for drinking water at .010 parts per million. And, just last month on Feb. 2, the EPA announced plans to start setting limits for perchlorate. It’s about time!)

        If you’d like more information about the Environmental Working Group’s study, you can check out http://www.ewg.org/chromium6-in-tap-water. I also wrote about the topic in my blog post, http://www.accidentallygreen.org/2011/01/in-news-contaminated-tap-water.html. Hope that helps!

  52. Kate says

    I would love to be able to drink my tap water at home – it is absolutely disgusting tasting and smelling. I have tried several different filters – Brita, Pure and none take away the grossness. If anyone can recommend a filter that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg I would love to hear it. I currently buy water from a local spring by the gallon – less than 50 cents a gallon and then use my refillable container. When I first moved in I tried to just grin and bear it figuring that I would get used to it, it didn’t work I just stopped drinking water. Now the tap water at work is great and I drink it all day long!

  53. says

    Kristen – I receive your posts via email and there’s always a little ad by Google at the bottom. Today the ad was for a bottled water company… which just goes to show how much money that bottled water companies are putting into advertising (and not water quality testing!)

  54. says

    For 2 years I have been using nalgene bottles (target $10) for this very reason!

    I always had a feeling the water was never as pure as it looks on the pretty pictures of waterfalls ect.

    I would love to see this documentary!!

  55. Jennifer says

    I read an article a couple of years ago on different home water filtration systems. I ended up purchasing a filtration system that hooks up to my faucet from Aquasana. Their filtration unit is a little pricey, but it is good forever. When I had a problem with mine, they even sent me a new one free. You only have to change the filters every six months, so I bought a bunch when they went on sale. It is much cheaper than Brita’s and doesn’t waste valuable space in my fridge. It also uses a different type of filtration, so it takes out more impurities than any other home filtration system on the market. I would highly recommend checking out Aquasana!

  56. says

    Great post Kristen. You have such a wide readership that this is a great forum to share your view. I’ll have to watch Tapped.

    I’ve been aware of some of these issues for a few years and while it is very disheartening at times (like lots of world issues in which corporations are having such a huge negative impact) I keep reminding myself that as an individual and a consumer I have power in the choices I make and the way I raise my children. As I teach them about the reasons for the choices I make I can see them understanding that they are part of a greater world. I see them incorporating this knowledge when they are in the world.

    Knowledge is certainly power, so long as we don’t allow ourselves to be discouraged from taking the actions we can.

    And I didn’t read the post as a rant but as a very powerful sharing of knowledge. Hopefully others (who are not already doing so) will incorporate some of your suggestions into their lives.

    • Kristen says

      Yep, that’s why I wanted to post about it. Because of blogging, I have the opportunity to reach more people than the average non-blogger. Hopefully my post will encourage at least a few people to rethink bottled water, and maybe those people will encourage another few people, and big change could eventually happen.

  57. says

    My husband and I are lucky enough to live in upstate NY where the water is excellent. However, we also travel about 7 months out of the year in a motor coach and blog about it at http://www.OutsideOurBubble.com. Traveling around the country we have come across many places that have undrinkable water, such as Yuma, AZ. The water there is so bad the town advises not drinking their water and they have many water stations throughout the town to fill up water bottles, large and small. We stopped using plastic water bottles a couple years ago and only use our Sigg bottles. In our motor coach we have installed a reverse osmosis system. That way our water is the same anywhere we go. We enjoy it along with our pets.

    I am appalled at the bottled water industry and the uselessness of it. It shows corporate greed at it’s finest. If you are in my family or my circle of friends you can be assured you are getting a Sigg or Kleen Kanteen bottle for your birthday/holidays. It’s not so easy to say no when you have the reusable bottle in your hand.

    For those of you that don’t have the luxury of a reverse osmosis system in your home, their are alternatives. Kristen mentioned a Brita pitcher. Their is also a pitcher called Zero Water. It has a 5 filter process that makes your water from the tap better than bottled water. Anything is better than all those plastic bottles out there.

    And let’s not even get into all the oil and production of the making the plastic bottles. Kristen touched on this subject nicely. So let’s all buy a reusable bottle for someone we love. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion. Just a “Thinking Of You” gift wishing them health and happiness.

  58. Chris says

    could not agree more! bottled water is a disaster, thanks for the reminder. i’m pretty good about having my own water, but do buy bottled now and again. i’m going to renew my commitment to stop buying it!

  59. says

    I have stainless steel water bottles “to go” and we have a Pur filter on our kitchen tap. Occasionally, when I am out and am waterless, I may buy a bottle to avoid the water fountain, but normally I take my water with me.

  60. says

    All I can say is “wow”.

    I never gave much thought about bottled water at all until one day I asked my papa if he wanted a bottle of water to drink. My dear 84-year-old papa replied, “I never thought I’d see the day that people would pay for water.” He was so ahead of his time.

    Now we drink filtered water out of the tap. To make it taste better, we fill up a glass container with a spout and put it in our refrigerator. It’s amazing how good it tastes when it’s cold and also how much more water our whole family drinks since I started doing that.

  61. Amanda Y. says

    I want to know what I should do, I hate buying bottled water, but I can’t drink flouride so I buy Deer park, which is spring water…how else could I get non-flouride water? I don’t think it can be filtered out–I know Brita, etc. don’t work.

  62. Rebecca says

    Our tap water really is disgusting here, and it’s usually not the right color.

    I’ve always hated bottled water, though. We use a Brita and reusable waterbottles. Researchers at my university invented the Ecowell, which i think is awesome. It’s basically a vending machine for juice, coffee, tea, water and carbonated juice beverages. You can create your own flavors, but you have to bring your own container. I wish they’d get these at airports past security gates. You can’t bring water through, it’s expensive on the other side and airport water is vile.

  63. says

    we use an on-faucet filter but it doesn’t filter out the pharmaceuticals – like those contained in the vastly popular “birth control” pills. there are bigger fish to fry than plastic bottles, imho, but those more serious issues will never be addressed because they demand a change in mentality and behavior that has more intimate implications.

  64. says

    I’ll have to watch this.

    We have a filter on our sink, which means I’m way more likely to use it than a pitcher in the fridge. But either way I still wouldn’t by bottled.

    We keep a few in our car for emergencies, but maybe we will have to rethink that with the plastic leakage. Though, those “emergencies” are if we get stuck in snow, and really, the water bottles are usually frozen if that’s the case. So I don’t know how helpful they would be anyway.

  65. Jennifer Lissette says

    I see that you already have a ton of comments, but I just wanted to throw out there that I made the switch to tap water last year. For most of my life, I was not a water drinker, but when I started breastfeeding I needed water. There was simply no other way to keep hydrated… It took 2 liters of water per day to keep up with my milk supply.

    I didn’t like the taste of my tap water so at first I bought bottled water from Costco. But one day I ran out and didn’t have time to get to the store, so I filled some empties and put them in the fridge. I couldn’t taste the difference!

    The next time I went to Costco they had a set of three stainless steel water bottles on sale for $15. Since I knew I’d need to refrigerate my water to get it to my liking, I figured better to buy a set of reusable bottles and cycle through them.

    Since then, it’s worked out great. I’m still drinking water even though I’m no longer nursing. I no longer have the expense of bottled water or the chore of taking the empties to the recycling center. My reusable water bottles take up way less room in my small house than a flats of bottled water. And the best part is, my toddler loves these stainless steel water bottles. I keep a partially filled one within his reach at all times and he helps himself throughout the day. I can’t help but hope this means that he’ll be a lifelong water drinker instead of starting in his twenties like his mama.

    Anyway, now that I’ve shared my story, I wanted to thank you for this post. It was spirited and heartfelt and informative and it reminded me how glad I am to be off the bottled water train.

  66. EngineerMom says

    Talk about hitting a nerve! Love the post.

    I’ve never been a big bottled water drinker – couldn’t afford it, and I’ve always lived places with tolerable tap water.

    I would add that you should always test your tap water for lead if it is going to be your primary water source. Check it straight out of the tap, and also after filtering, just to make sure your filter is removing the lead. This is especially important for homes with children or pregnant women. Even if the local water source is lead-free, if you live in an older home, your pipes may have lead or lead solder in them.

    We use a filter, and I keep water and homemade lemonade mixed up in the fridge in the summer. One of the benefits of a refillable water bottle is that even if you are caught out and about later than you’d planned, you can still refill that water bottle. Libraries, malls, and grocery stores usually have water fountains, as do some parks. Find out where there are water fountains near where you usually run errands, and you don’t have to worry about carrying enough water for large families for an entire day. I’ve used this technique when visiting attractions like water parks or amusement parks, too.

  67. Karen says

    I think we have maybe purchased a couple dozen bottles of water, ever, for our family of four, usually in hot weather while away from home. I also never believed the contents were in any way superior to what comes out of most people’s taps. We use a Britta, and have had boil water advisories in this area. I think I would sooner boil and filter our own water than buy a bottle that has had to be produced especially for the purpose, filled with possibly questionable “product”, labelled, wrapped, stored and then shipped. Bottled water should be used only when absolutely required. Let’s stop buying into the paranoia marketing departments are selling, and try some reasonable skepticism instead.

  68. says

    Our tap water is great, so that’s what we drink at home. We try to make a point of using refillable (non-plastic) water bottles to take with us on the go, and should we buy water anywhere (which isn’t often at all), we do recycle to bottles. I have to admit that we do buy a case or so of bottled water to take with us camping, because so many campgrounds have really nasty tasting water. I’m going to try to come up with an alternative. We may have to take extra insulated drink jugs with us, but there should be no reason we can’t take at least some tap water from home with us when we camp.

  69. Diane says

    I began using bottled water for a short time back in the 90’s. One day as I was purchasing my “supply”, I nonchalantly looked at the contents on the bottles. The contents read, “water from the Buffalo, NY water system.” I kid you not! That was the end of my bottled-water era.

  70. says

    I was raised downtown in a fairly large city and we always drank tap water. I bought my house when I was 21 and it never occurred to me how big of a deal it was to have access to that. I have a shallow well now and the water is too nasty to cook with or drink, but still, I don’t buy bottled water. We have refillable gallon jugs that we take to reverse osmosis machines. They’re all over town here, but I’ve seen them in large cities all over the country. That is a great alternative to bottled water (which freaks me out anyway because I detest plastic anything) and you get a gallon for a quarter. Can’t beat that! However if I lived in a place with public water, I’d take full advantage

  71. says

    I was raised downtown in a fairly large city and we always drank tap water. I bought my house when I was 21 and it never occurred to me how big of a deal it was to have access to that. I have a shallow well now and the water is too nasty to cook with or drink, but still, I don’t buy bottled water. We have refillable gallon jugs that we take to reverse osmosis machines. They’re all over town here, but I’ve seen them in large cities all over the country. That is a great alternative to bottled water (which freaks me out anyway because I detest plastic anything) and you get a gallon for a quarter. Can’t beat that! However if I lived in a place with public water, I’d take full advantage

  72. Curmudgeon says

    “I feel quite convinced that the bottled water industry is a money-making machine that doesn’t care about the environment or even about our health.”

    Kristen, did you think that this was unique to the bottled water industry ?

    Sadly, this is true of many companies and industries. The tobacco industry is the first which comes to mind. Our society’s tendency to focus solely on the bottom line, to the exclusion of any consideration of the common good, means that some companies/industries are choosing to make a profit by hurting their employees, customers and society at large. I’m not suggesting that profit is bad – only that pursuit of profit when it is not tempered by consideration of responsibility to society can lead to evil.

    • Kristen says

      Oh, goodness no! There aren’t a lot of corporations that DON’T fit that description.

      But the bottled water industry is particularly culpable here, because they spend no small amount of money telling us how healthy their product is. At least Twinkies aren’t advertised that way.

  73. says

    I’ve tried the metal bottles, but I can’t get over the metal taste I always experience with them. I’ve tried several different companies & it’s always the same. Any suggestions?

  74. Beth says

    My family cannot drink tap water because we have problems with iodine toxicity and the area in which we live is on a potash deposit. Because of this, the levels of natural iodine in the soil and water in this area are about 900 times higher than in most areas. Alternatives like the Brita pitcher won’t work for us because it doesn’t filter out the iodine in the water. Reverse osmosis and distillation are the only options for us.

    Several years ago my parents invested in their own water distiller. It can cost a bit of money initially, but it is worth it. You distill your own tap water, you know it’s pure because you purify it yourself, and you don’t spend extra money in packaging. You also don’t go through tons of plastic bottles. My parents amassed a collection of gallon jugs by buying jugs of tea and juice and then bleaching them and reusing them for water once they were emptied.

    I no longer live with my parents, and since I cannot afford a distiller of my own at this point I’ve had to find another way to get water. Instead of buying it in cases of individual bottles, I pay 20 cents/gallon and fill my jugs at a water kiosk on a regular basis. Once again, I use the same few jugs and refill them when they are empty. I also do that with bottles I wish to carry for my individual use. I fill them ahead of time and keep them in my fridge so I can just grab one when I want it.

  75. Danielle Purington says

    Bottle Deposit Program in the State of Oregon is where the consumer pays 5 cents a bottle in addition to the purchase price thereby putting down a deposit. When the consumer takes that bottle back to the store they get there deposit back. The consumer is encouraged to recycle this way. I am unsure how the bottle’s manufacturer would have any ill effect except now there product is essentially more expensive to the consumer.

    I will go put this documentary on my netflex queue.

  76. says

    oh, we are killing ourselves with all this plastic waste! thanks for this post…yet another stark reminder that I should do more and MORE to cut down on the plastics I buy. (never liked the taste of water bottled in plastic!)

  77. Samantha says

    What a well written article.
    That said, we actually *need* some of the contaminants that natural water provides, and this filtering business is a factor in the factor in mankind’s exponentially weakening immune system.
    Also, what good’s a filter if my houe is old with leaded pipes?

  78. Tami says

    I am bothered, both by the bottle water industry and by my own uneducated spending. I have in the last six months, stopped buying bottled water. Each of my family members has a ThinkSport insulated water bottle. They are so awesome because they keep our ice water cold. More importantly they don’t leach out harmful chemicals. I am not affiliated with them in any way…so here is some additional information: http://www.thinksportbottles.com/. Thanks Kristen!

  79. Jennifer says

    I hate bottled water. We have a case in our basement I bought before a blizzard but we never drink bottled water. My next step is going to be keeping all of our water bottles full in our fridge so we drink more water in general. I think it’s insane the number of people who pay for something that’s free.

  80. Joy says

    I stopped using the filters on my Brita jug a few years ago after I learned that the chlorine dissipates in the refrigerator. I fill up the jug with regular tap water, pop it in the fridge, and once its cold it tastes great!

  81. says

    I have a personal vendetta against bottled water. Bottled water is a swindle that Bernie Madoff would be proud of. Why in the world would you pay so much money for something you can get virtually free? I never understood the appeal of bottled water, and I refuse to pay money for it.

  82. says

    Thanks for posting this Kristen. Personal water bottles are a huge issue in our country where we really are a throw away society. The biggest problems with personal bottled water from big corporations are:
    water is transported from one area of the country (or world) and transported to another area. This disrupts the water cycle in that region by draining water from a lake or river it is no longer available for the water table. It takes about 3 liters of water to produce 1 liter of water for us to drink. That includes manufacturing the water bottle and transportation of that water bottle.
    Recycling is not a cure. Plastic is not a material that can be recycled indefinitely. In fact, plastics are downcycled. The recycled plastic bottles are not usually turned back into bottles, but items like fibers for fleece jackets or carpeting. The new items cannot be recycled, and end up in the landfill.
    Many of the bottles end up in landfills which is another topic altogether, but we should do our part to lower our impact on them.
    I recommend then following videos to check out: BlueGold which is about the privatization of water, the Story of Stuff, which you can google and watch online. The basic Story of Stuff video is great, but they also have a story of bottled water.
    On a frugal note, the six in our household all got steel water bottles for Christmas a few years back. But the best was finding a deal T our local thrift store. Brand new bottles for 50 cents a piece!

  83. Sara says

    I will buy a filter for the tap. We had some people die from them putting toxic chemicals in the water. I am scared so I must get one.

  84. says

    I remember when the Pepsi rep came to Walmart when my husband was working, and he asked the guy if the bottled water was really better, and the rep was honest and said there was 100% no diff between the tap and bottled stuff. It came from a different place but wasn’t filtered or anything.

    So far I can’t convince my brother or parents of this so maybe I can find them a copy of Tapped to buy, and a Klean Kaneen to drink from. My parents aren’t as snobish as my brother, & he is a germophobe looking at it as a way to stay healthy. He’s a work in progress.

    I do have do admit that I am a huge fan of Propel Zero Grape, which is just flavored grape water, but I buy a bottle maybe twice a month when I can find coupons because it’s a non-necessity. It is still wrong of me, but if I am gonna drink water it has to be flavored. The rest of the time I’m happy to buy lemons and limes, and things to mix in my tap water. We live in a rural area with water I’m fine with drinking.

    I think I am going to search Amazon for a filter or a Klean Kanteen for my brother since he owns his own home and can install a sink mount now.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post! I always have enjoyed your blog because it’s not regurgitation of someone else’s ideas and you truly live how you talk. Very respectable and I appreciate it. (I am dealing with a horrible keyboard, sorry for typos!)

  85. says

    Just curious… do you know if the Brita filters take out hormones? I read about hormones in tap water about 6 months ago… Since then, we have used distilled…
    knowing that most “spring” water is just tap. My husband’s side of the family has had some cancer history and I want to eliminate as much “impurity” as possible…
    Thoughts?

  86. Janknitz says

    Thank you for this post!!!!!!

    I got totally disgusted one day at Whole Foods. I bought some prepared food for lunch and decided to splurge on a bottle of water (something I rarely do) to drink since I was going to sit outside the store to eat it. I wanted to find a little bottle for under $1, already chilled–I would have happily filled a cup or glass with tap water if that was handy. I was disgusted to find shelf after shelf of IMPORTED bottled water. Bottled water from France, Bottled water fro Fiji, Bottled water from an Alaskan Glacier. How sick is it when a store that prides itself on being green and encouraging a small carbon footprint imports WATER in plastic and glass bottles from halfway around the world???? Lots of them! Why?????????? I think that just about cancels out any other “carbon savings” this store claims to accomplish.

    I live in a small city in California that was home to a bottling plant that claimed it was bottling water fresh from the Northern California Geysers, about 40 miles away. Thing was, there was NO pipeline from the Geysers to this bottling plant, and all the time it was there I NEVER saw trucks of water being hauled in to fill the bottles. I’m positive good old city water was going in these bottles, perhaps they filtered it first. And I think their slogan was something like “consider the source”–yeah, they didn’t say WHAT source!

    It’s all a scam. I wholeheartedly agree–if you must carry bottled water, get a safe, reusable container and fill it yourself. The only way this madness will stop is if we stop buying bottled water.

  87. says

    Thanks for the information about the video. I will be sure to watch it….I’m a bit of a cynic though and will probably do more research on the subject. I remember as a child in the 60’s & 70’s folks did not buy water….I don’t even think it was available. Perhaps you could buy tonic water or carbonated water. My husband was a big Perrier drinker…that was the cool drink then. We were told in the 80’s that tap water was causing cancer and other diseases. In CA we had tiny worms in our water and that’s when I became convinced to buy bottled water. These days it seems we cannot leave the house without water but years ago nobody thought about it. We just left the house. There was this huge push to drink tons of water….I think this was in the 80’s??? My folks just drank coffee and tea. I drank diet Pepsi and Fresca…I know thats so sad.
    We probably have been duped but I wonder what the next trend will be? In the 70’s the planet was freezing and the fear was global freezing. In the 70’s paper was evil because we were killing more trees. Plastic was the cool thing….plastic was the responsible thing. I’m so tired of buying water and frankly cannot afford it. I bought it because I thought it was a healthier alternative to tap. Good topic…and very relevent!!

  88. Laura says

    Hi
    I agree about the plastic bottles not all being re-cycled, It is sinful the ammount of plastic we use, which the majority goes into the sea or landfill.
    I have no problem drinking tap water, But I do buy bottled water, in glass bottles and from a certain area where I know for a fact it is spring water.
    I would never use a water filter, brita or anything else…all it does is soften the water with high levels of sodium and is unsafe for children and people with high blood pressure.
    Love your Blog by the way,
    Laura

    • Laura says

      BTW I have an installed water softner in my home which, as we live in a hard water area (london) and it saves a lot of life on the washing machine, dishwasher etc, reduces limescale on showers, taps , but thats not drinking water.
      And the reason I know the bottled water I buy is spring water, is that the small company belongs to family in Cumbria, and it definately is superior to tap water.

  89. Pat says

    Our water company sends a notice from time to time to the effect that while the water SOURCE in our city is tested and it’s good water, the trip from the source to your tap may pose problems, for example, copper pipes with LEAD joints, old pipes along the trip with corrosion, lots of things. Our water company recommends that households have their water tested from time to time, so that the household actually knows what is the state of their water. Testing involves letting your plumbing sit unused overnight, then drawing water from the tap that’s farthest way from the spot where the water main enters your house. Try it – maybe you’ll be surprised. Brita doesn’t take everything out. We’re a household where the “source” is supposedly good, but somewhere inbetween it and us, the water gets bad. We use Purified Water to Go in 5-gallon carboys, most of which are about 10 years old. Water to Go uses a multi-stage purification system of tap water. They publish their test results, and you get just H2’s and O’s, as water should be. A side effect is we are always prepared water-wise for an earthquake (we live in an earthquake zone).

  90. says

    I’m going to look for this movie. I’m in NC and didn’t realize they were bottling water while we’ve been in a drought for the past few years. That is crazy – and irresponsible.

    Another thing that drives me nuts about this issue is that we DON”T NEED bottled water. Our tap water is perfectly fine to drink. I’ve spent time in a few countries where you can’t even open your mouth in the shower for fear you’ll catch some nasty bug. We boiled water and poured it into bottles most of the time, but there were times we had to resort to purchasing bottled water. It makes more sense in this environments that bottled water is a necessity, not a luxury like it is here.

    We are so spoiled!

  91. Kate says

    On top of all that, did you also know that the making of plastic water bottles is also a massive waste of water.

    It takes nearly 2 gallons of water to make the average individual water bottle. Now multiply that by the numbers of bottles that are being sold. It’s mind boggling. And just one more reason why I love my stainless steel bottle, and my filtered water I put in it.

    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/06/how-many-gallons-of-water.php

    The other thing I love is that lots of areas close to me are trying to phase out bottled water, by providing free fill-up spots, where you can refill your bottle for free with more filtered water.

  92. says

    I’ve watched the film Tapped, and while I completely agreed with it’s point – bottled water is an unnecessary, wasteful, and overly expensive product manufactured by companies that are more concerned with their bottom line than doing the right thing – I didn’t like it’s very propaganda-like stance.

    I do live in NC, and although I wasn’t here during the drought, I looked up tons of newspaper articles from that time after I watched Tapped. The truth is that while it seems morally wrong that Pepsi was bottling up our water during a drought, they weren’t doing anything legally wrong, and there would have been consequences if they had stopped bottling water. Here’s what I found out:

    Water use was restricted in gradual phases. Stage one was residential water use, which accounts for 60 percent of the water consumed in the area. Stage two included universities and government buildings. Stage three would have been commercial and industrial users, but restrictions never got that far.

    Although the Aquafina plant ranks in the top ten individual water users in the area, the plant only uses 1 percent of all of the water distributed by Raleigh, compared to 60 percent by residences. Put that way, it makes sense that water restriction began with residential use.

    Most of the water used by residences goes toward personal consumption: drinking, bathing, washing clothes and dishes…Most of the water used by industries goes toward manufacturing. So whereas restrictions on residential water use mean a few less showers, restrictions on industrial water use would result in less manufacturing, possible downtime for the factories, and ultimately potential lay-offs.

    I don’t think Pepsi should be allowed to bottle up our water ever at any time, but to single them out from other industries during a drought would have been unfair, and I didn’t like how Tapped presented that issue in such a one-sided manner rather than showing the whole picture.

  93. says

    Thanks for posting! I’m going to repost on my blog. I know this is an issue with athletes buying and accepting bottled water at events! Thanks again – great post!

  94. says

    I haven’t seen this documentary yet , but agree with your point of view. We don’t buy bottled water — instead we drink straight tap water or Brita filtered water and use reusable containers.

    Check out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=prM46UF_nLg&feature=related for a great Brita commercial produced in Canada.

    I’m interested to know what you do to keep water on hand for emergency purposes. They say you should have enough water for 72 hours — 1.5 gallons per person per day — which is a lot!

    I would have liked to buy a huge refillable container of water, but no one could give me a clear answer as to how long that water could sit for unused and still be safe in the event of an emergency where no water is available. I was told that the water in the reusable water bottles (ie: that you can fill up at the store) would not be fit for a year or even for 6 months and that water that is sealed by the manufacturer is the way to go. So I reluctantly bought a bunch of water bottles with the knowledge that I would have to replenish again in a year’s time. I’d love to do something else, but I also want to make sure I have water on hand just in case of an emergency.

  95. says

    I work for a US engineering company that specializes in designing water and wastewater treatment plants, and you should see how amazing water treatment process is, in the US. Every water treatment plant has a lab, and they test the water rigorously and keep track of previous days’ water samples, just in case they need to track some kind of disaster, the water is treated with UV radiation et cetera.

    This technology, is not readily available in countries like India or in Southeast Asia in general, where tap water is sanitized by way of chlorination, and water needs to be boiled. Ergo, tourists and travelers are advised to drink bottled water if they don’t have access to boiled water.

    In the US, and most of Europe, there’s no excuse. Your tap water is the best quality there is. Your government spent so much of YOUR TAX DOLLARS to make water SAFE and TASTE GOOD, you should take advantage of that.

    Thank you.

  96. Karen says

    I use a Brita too and love it. 3M now makes a Filtrete Water Station that is a water filter like the Brita, but instead of putting the water into a pitcher, it goes directly into 4 reusable water bottles attached to the Station’s four “ports”. A friend who was never without bottled water before bought the water station and now uses her reusable bottles exclusively and LOVES her water station.

  97. Megan says

    I haven’t drank tap water in years and don’t use it for cooking either. At home, we installed an under the sink filter (a reverse osmosis filter) which eliminates the highly unnecessary and toxic fluoride. Dasani and Nestle Pure Life might use tap water from a local water source, but they process their water by reverse osmosis which eliminates the fluoride. Just drinking tap water is bad for everyone’s health.

  98. says

    Finally just watched this today! What an eye-opening film! I really enjoyed it, although I do wish they had gone more into the reasons why tap water has a bad reputation and not just because it “tastes bad” – there are definitely plenty of different reasons why it could be considered “impure” at times. However I was completely shocked at the lack of regulation that the bottling industries have! Mind-boggling. My husband and I rarely buy bottled water and use re-usable bottles whenever possible and will continue to do so now, especially after this film!

  99. says

    Wow, this was a really interesting post! I mean I knew that the bottled water industry was an awful and mainly pointless undertaking but I didn’t realize just how extreme. Would you mind if I linked back to this post? I think more people should read it.

  100. Amanda Y. says

    I know the overall concept is right, but I hate when I am hated on for having bottled water–I am allergic to flouride (It was causing very bad acid reflux for me that was eating away at my throat), and the only alternative I have where I live it to buy Spring Water (of which there is only 1 reliable brand, many others come from a tap and still contain flouride), so remember not everyone with a water bottle is evil!

  101. says

    i agree with you on most fronts, and i don’t buy bottled water for that reason, and for many others, but i also don’t drink tap water as a rule. tap water contains more chlorine then most pools (my mom tested ours) and the amount of floride in the water is not healthy for you.

    So my option? “fair trade” spring water. it’s a local company that does it in a way that protects the resource and charges a fair price. the health improvements i’ve seen in drinking this water (and not tap) have been great.

    As i said, i agree with you on most fronts, but the fact of the matter is although there’s no “kill you quick” problems with our water it’s still not healthy or safe for us to drink (long term).

  102. says

    Hi Kristen, I am SO glad to see someone else who is so down on plastic water bottles. Plastic is the bane of our society and the DEATH of billions of fish, birds and animals. Birds, animals and fish stick their necks through the sixpack holders and wear them until they die. Fish swallow plastic bags in the ocean mistaking them for jellyfish, and die. Birds pick up plastic floating in the ocean and feed it to their young, they die.
    There are several “Islands” of plastic bigger than the state of Texas floating in the Pacific Ocean between the US and Asia, also in the Atlantic. Enough plastic if collected, to recycle and supply us for tens of years. But right now it just kills whatever is in the ocean.
    I would totally be on board with a $1.00 per item deposit for any container. You go to the supermarket and they have a young person who counts your bottles, cans, or whatever and issues you a credit which you turn over when you check out and is deducted from your receipt. Not too many bottles and cans would be seen dumped any more! And if they were there would be plenty of people happy to pick them up and turn them in. The only cost would be the cost of the young person at the supermarket or recycling center – and we need more jobs.
    And we would save on trash pick up, better looking neigborhoods and beaches and the lives of millions of birds, animals and fish saved.
    But what does Big Business care about that? For an extra dollar on their bottom line most of them would happily sacrifice every bird, animal or fish on the planet

  103. HS says

    Aren’t those pitchers w/ filters made of polycarbonate? Polycarbonate is formed by the combination of BPA and phosgene.

  104. mike says

    I drink distilled water, or any bottled water. Our municipal h2o tastes noticeably unpalatable, even after going through a brita filter. If I make ice, I can visually discern, in a second, the ‘spring’ water from the tap water and the distilled water. I recycle every recyclable container that we use. If you read about municipal water, it at one time or other has everything from feces eating bacteria to pharmaceutical drug residues, to chemical industry pollution in it. Sorry, but what we eat and drink is very important, and I cannot give something ‘a try’ if I have doubts about it.

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