Friday, October 30, 2015

Money Crashers: Bottled Water vs. Tap Water

I've never understood bottled water. I'm old enough to remember when no one drank it except yuppies, and nowadays it seems like no one ever leaves the house anymore without a bottle of the stuff. It's like the bottle is this season's must-have fashion accessory—you're not fully dressed without it. Until it's empty, of course, at which point it gets tossed in the nearest trash can or, too often, on the ground. These days, I find discarded water bottles as litter more often than discarded soda bottles.

When bottled water first started getting popular, back in the 80s and 90s, I really didn't get it. You could get water for free—or practically free—delivered right to your house by tap. Why on earth would you pay for it? Then, as bottled water grew more and more popular, we started hearing more about its environmental costs: the amount of oil required to produce all those bottles and ship them across the country, the theft of precious water from some of the driest regions in the country, and of course, the waste produced by all those plastic bottles. (Less than one-third of them get recycled, and even those are usually "downcycled," turned into products that can't be recycled again, such as fabrics.)

All this seems even dumber when you consider that many bottled waters, including popular brands like Dasani and Aquafina, are nothing but municipal water that's been filtered or treated in some way. Why pay bottled water prices for glorified tap water? If you think the filtering process makes that much of a difference, why not get a cheap pitcher or faucet filter and do it yourself for pennies on the gallon?

So basically, bottled water is pretty much the poster child for a wasteful lifestyle—the exact opposite of what ecofrugality is all about. In my latest Money Crashers article, I expose bottled water for the scam it is, comparing it with tap water on cost, taste, safety, and sustainability. (Spoiler alert: it doesn't come out ahead on any of them.) Then I discuss the few cases in which bottled water could make sense (e.g., unsafe or bad-tasting home water, or always being on the go), and explain how a good filter and a reusable bottle can get you around those problems in a much more ecofrugal way.

Full article: Bottled Water vs. Tap Water – Facts & 4 Reasons to Drink Tap

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