Contributing Editor: Will Johnston
By now, we all know the importance of drinking water every day. Did you know that where you get that water from can make a big difference for the Earth and living in a sustainable manner?
It may seem very healthy and pure to drink water that flows from a spring in France or a glacier in Iceland but is it really necessary? That water is bottled and shipped all over the world, causing it to have a very large carbon footprint just to make it to your local store. On top of that, it’s in a plastic bottle.
What about drinking your tap water? It’s already piped into your house, requires no plastic bottle and costs pennies on the dollar compared to bottled water. Is it safe? According to “Bottled Water: Better Than the Tap?” published by the FDA in 2002,
“One thing consumers can depend on is that the FDA sets regulations specifically for bottled water to ensure that the bottled water they buy is safe, according to Henry Kim, Ph.D., a supervisory chemist at the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Office of Plant and Dairy Foods and Beverages. Kim, whose office oversees the agency’s regulatory program for bottled water, says that major changes have been made since 1974, when the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) first gave regulatory oversight of public drinking water (tap water) to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Each time the EPA establishes a standard for a chemical or microbial contaminant, the FDA either adopts it for bottled water or makes a finding that the standard is not necessary for bottled water in order to protect the public health.
“Generally, over the years, the FDA has adopted EPA standards for tap water as standards for bottled water,” Kim says. As a result, standards for contaminants in tap water and bottled water are very similar.”
If you are still not convinced that tap water is safe for your family, you can add a water filter to your household tap. There are those that filter water under the sink, those that attach to the end of your faucet and filter the water as it comes out and also filters that are a part of a pitcher or other water storage container. We use a two gallon container with a built in filter and keep it in the fridge so that we always have cool, fresh drinking water at home.
You can use a variety of water bottles to transport your tap water around if you are working out, going on an outing or the kids need water for a sporting event. Because I don’t have children, I don’t worry as much about BPA in plastics so we have a variety of plastic water bottles and some stainless steel bottles. You can get BPA-free plastic water bottles quite easily now as well as stainless steel. Adults could even use glass bottles for water.
According to Wikipedia, bottled water sales in the U.S. in 2008 topped 8.6 billion gallons. The most interesting part of that is the 25% of that water was purified tap water. Basically, some bottled water companies install a filter on the taps and then bottle that water and sell it to the consumer at a much higher price. You could recoup the price of most home water filters in only a few cases of bottled water.
Another consideration is bottled water vs. tap water is that many brands of bottled water do not contain any fluoride. Household tap water has fluoride added which is considered to improve overall dental health. If your children drink mainly bottled water you may need to consider giving them fluoride supplements to keep their teeth healthy and strong.
I have certainly lived in places where the tap water did not taste good and it was tempting to switch to bottled water. The simple solution is to fill a pitcher and let the water sit for a few hours or overnight. It can sit on a counter or in the fridge. Usually the funky taste will dissipate and the water will taste fine.
Tap water is a good choice because it reduces waste, it saves money, it can keep teeth healthy and strong and it doesn’t have to be transported on gas guzzling trucks. Because the standards for bottled water and tap water are nearly the same and tap water safety is constantly monitored by local municipalities, you can feel confident about the water coming out of your home faucets.