When I was growing up, bottled water typically came in large glass jug called a carboy that was placed atop a water cooler. These coolers also known as bubblers were exclusive to office environments. In fact, the expression ‘Around the Water Cooler’ started because people would leave the office to get a drink and catch up on the office gossip.
My main source of water growing up came from the tap. Bottled water was either mineral water or sparkling water and although Poland Spring Water has been distributing water for almost 170 years, their primary market was commercial offices. Bottled water has deep roots in the United States, but it wasn’t until the late 1970′s that the appeal for bottled water changed. Whether this change was stimulated by clever marketing or poor quality tap water, the debate rages on.
Some Facts about the impact of bottled water:
- The energy used each year making the bottles needed to meet the demand for bottled water in the United States is equivalent to more than 17 million barrels of oil. That’s enough to fuel over 1 million cars for a year.
- If water and soft drink bottlers had used 10% recycled materials in their plastic bottles in 2004, they would have saved the equivalent of 72 million gallons of gasoline. If they had used 25%, they would have saved enough energy to electrify more than 680,000 homes for a year.
- The average cost of bottled water and vended water in the U.S. was $0.90 per gallon compared to the average cost of tap water, which is roughly $0.80 per 500 gallons.
- Most plastic disposable bottles are never recycled. According to the Container Recycling Institute, 85% of plastic water bottles end up in the trash even though they are made of recyclable materials. Americans throw away an average of 38 billion water bottles a year, which won’t biodegrade for 1,000 years.
Now, it is true that there are some areas where the groundwater or local water sources aren’t treated, but the safety of tap water is fairly consistent. Tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Water treatment plants that provide tap water must be tested multiple times per day, and every water provider in the country is required to provide consumers with detailed water quality reports to assure its compliance with EPA standards.
No matter the statistics, the debate between bottled water vs. tap water will continue on, but for bottled water drinkers, who are looking to convert back to the tap, there is an alternative; filtered water. Brita produces a product that can be attached to your faucet, but it is bulky looking. For a more integrated filtration system seek out Rohl’s Water Filtration System or Grohe’s Blue Prue.