There seems to be a lot of confusion these days over what water is the most healthful, least harmful, and most eco-friendly to drink. Given some of the scary reports about tap water, bottled water seems like the cleaner, safer choice. But the source of some bottled water is tap water! And then there are the plastic bottles. So which is safer? How can we find the best and healthiest water to drink? Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of both kinds of water.
Filtered Tap Water
Various kinds of home water filtration systems are available. You can simply attach a filter to your faucets, or you can get more elaborate and install an “in-line” system into your plumbing. There are carbon filters and reverse-osmosis filters, with the latter being the most thorough.
- Water is drunk from re-usable containers.
- Faucet filters are inexpensive and easy to install.
- Many chemicals and microbes found in tap water are filtered out.
- Federal regulations require rigorous, frequent testing of tap water.
- Tap water costs pennies or even fractions of a penny per gallon; it is far cheaper than bottled water, which averages $5 a gallon (far more than gasoline!).
- You can get your tap water tested and purchase a filter that is appropriate to the contents of your area’s tap water.
- Frequent filter changes, as required with faucet filters, are wasteful.
- Reverse-osmosis in-line filters waste a great deal of water.
- In-line systems are expensive and can be complicated to install. It’s worth noting, however, that the average American drinks 167 bottles of water a year. Each bottle costs around $1, so saving $167 a year would greatly reduce the time it would take for such a system to pay for itself.
- Bottles are convenient; you can purchase water instead of sugary drinks when you are traveling or otherwise out and about, and they can be made available for athletes, picnickers, etc.
- Many claim that the taste of bottled water is superior to tap water, and prefer it for making tea or coffee.
- The bottles can be refilled and re-used for water consumption a few times, and then they can be filled with water and frozen to provide ice packs for coolers or other applications. There are other creative uses for these bottles as well.
- The manufacture and disposal of plastic bottles is not eco-friendly. Petroleum products and other chemicals are used in the manufacture of the plastic, and the bottles must be transported by pollution-emitting trucks or airplanes to consumers. And while they are recyclable, less than half of all plastic water bottles find their way to a recycling plant. Despite the interesting uses for used plastic bottles, most of them end up in the trash.
- The source of bottled water may be a municipal tap, although it is usually filtered before being bottled.
- Less stringent federal regulations are in place to protect bottled water’s purity.
- Bottled water costs far more per gallon than tap water.