Bottled water and its cost

Bottled water and its cost to you and the Planet

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Have you ever considered how much money you are spending on bottled water – I mean that is if you happen to use bottled water regularly – and what impact that has on your finances and on the health of the Planet?

Despite having some of the highest quality tap water in the world, in the UK we spend £1.5bn, that is nigh on twice that amount in US$s, per year on bottled water – in fact 6 million liters of that stuff is being drunk in the UK every day. Americans spend even more but then again the country is bigger and they have a few more people than Britain.
This bottled water thingy is a fairly recent phenomenon, but it certainly is something that is having quite a serious ecological impact.

The figures are about as follows: 27 million tonnes of plastic are used to bottle water each year; to make the 29bn plastic bottles used annually in the US requires enough barrels of oil to fuel more than a million cars; of 13 billion plastic bottles sold in the UK last year, only 3 billion were recycled; a liter of bottled water generates up to 600 times more CO2 than a liter of tap water, and costs thousands of times more… and I could go on. I know, I do at time, don't I...
Here is an idea, but one that the industry and even some in the green movement that promote “ethical bottled water” will not like at all .... Drink more tap water!

Yes, I did say some in the green movement promote ethical bottled water and it, alas, is true. I found that out when I wrote an opinion piece for an online community and had it pulled by their editor with comments of the sorts that the article was not appropriate as they were promoting ethical bottled water. Duh? Ethical bottled water? Is that not an oxymoron?

Did you know that a quarter of all bottled water is simply filtered tap water? Or that when Decanter Magazine conducted a blind tasting of 24 brands of water, Thames tap water came joint third? In fact, when Thames Water conducted a blind test on the streets a few years back about 70% thought that the tap water was the bottled water as tey preferred the taste.
Tap water is in fact pretty good, and you can always filter it if you do happen to be worried about the quality or don't like the idea of chlorine and such in it.

I have not bought a bottle of water for I do not know how long as I do not see the point of paying 100x more for it than for tap water which, where I live, is good though at home I do filter it simple because of the lime scale and the chlorine.

I am lucky, obviously, in that I have been given water bottles for reviews and hence do have some rather nice ones that can travel with me and also that our tap water is of reall good quality.

What we do need, in London and everywhere, is, once again, drinking water fountains where one can fill up one's own water bottles too. The first ons, indeed, have returned to one or tow of the Royal Parks, so I understand, but many more are needed.

Reusable water bottles of the right kind – you want to avoid those that may still contain BPA and leach dangerous stuff into the water and you definitely not ever want to reuse a plastic PET bottle – can be had and some do not even cost all that much.

On the other hand, if you do not mind carrying a glass bottle then repurposing a SnappleTM lemonade bottle as a bottle for use with you tap water is simple, easy and, most importantly, cheap. The only one drawback, or maybe two, is and are that glass is – one – heavier than plastic or even stainless steel and – two – that glass is breakable. That, however, does not stop people reinventing the glass bottle though for carrying your tap water and charging you about $20 for something you can just repurpose.

Oh, and just to add though, my main peeve is not, in fact, with the plastic bottles alone and primarily, though, then again it is, but also and especially with the fact that we are needlessly extracting water that is needed elsewhere.

So, let's get back to the tap.

© 2010