Is bottled water worth the cost?


Fact Box

  • Not all bottled waters contain spring-sourced water. Popular brand, Aquafina, “originates from public water sources and is then purified through a rigorous purification process. This purification process includes reverse osmosis and other filtering and purification methods.” 
  • The most expensive bottled water in the world, Acqua di Cristallo Tributo a Modigliani, contains 750ml of water from France and Fiji and is presented in a 24-carat solid gold bottle.
  • The 2019 Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting convention determined that Eldorado Springs, Colorado had the “best tasting tap water in the United States.”
  • The Flint, MI water crisis began in 2014 when officials switched the city’s water source to the Flint River to save money. The river had long been the dumping grounds of local industries and was “highly corrosive... Flint officials failed to treat it, and lead leached out from aging pipes into thousands of homes.”

Bre (No)

The business of bottled water has grown to beyond booming. It’s America’s favorite drink, with more than 14 billion gallons consumed in 2019 alone (up from 9 billion in 2008). 

Capitalizing on fears surrounding tap water’s safety, bottled water manufacturers continue to trash the planet on both ends of their finite production cycle (extraction and disposal), while consumers keep placing faith in an industry lacking consistent regulation, and thus, credibility. Clearly supporting the dependence of big business on fossil fuel consumption, the obvious downsides are overlooked in favor of profit and pollution. When corporations mine public water sources, destroying habitats for countless species, they simply filter that previously free water before packaging it in contaminated plastic. In between, manufacturing, storage, and transportation all demand massive amounts of oil. Additionally, the production and destruction of plastics can release toxins into the atmosphere and even our bodies. Once empty, bottles pile up in landfills and oceans, forming literal islands of waste. The welfare of humans and animals alike is suffering greatly due to the carcinogenic plastics and toxic processes involved. All an unnecessary gimmick, externalized costs impact countless lives every step of the way. 

Despite perceptions, tap water typically tests better in purity and is generally superior in regulation. Safe tap water is widely accessible, and when it’s unavailable, there are several economical options to filter, sterilize, or purify water. Embracing sustainable methods would slow the increasing costs of bottled water consumption imposed on the planet. Avoiding bottled water and demonstrating an attitude of natural preservation over convenience can model behavior with unlimited potential to influence future generations for the better and provide cost savings to the drinker.

Andrew (Yes)

Clean drinking water is a necessity and paying slightly more to ensure one's health is absolutely worth the cost. The FDA regulates bottled water with more rigorous measures than those set forth by the EPA, which controls tap water. The FDA's bottled water standards include protection from contaminants, sanitary conditions during bottling, and quality control through sample testing. 

Many people agree that bottled water tastes better. This is because some municipalities treat their water with chemicals like chlorine or fluoride, which have strong after-tastes.

While the environmental impact of water bottled in plastic may be higher, it is also worth considering the environmental impact of tap water, particularly if that water is wasted. The water coming from faucets in our homes must be stored and treated with chemicals, requiring energy use. Further, after drinking a glass of tap water, most people will wash the glass with a chemical soap or dishwasher.

One of the most significant objections to bottled water is the plastic waste that it can generate. However, there are four easy ways to mitigate this issue so that consumers can get bottled water's safety and taste benefits. People can recycle plastic bottles at a traditional recycling facility or up-cycle them in a creative way. Consumers can also purchase larger bottles, which will create less plastic in the long run, or purchase bottles made from glass or other materials. 

Paying for bottled water ensures both quality and purity and a superior taste free of chemicals that is well worth the cost.

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