Many of us reach for bottled water without giving it much of a thought. The total annual U.S. bottled water consumption was 11.7 billion gallons in 2015, according to the International Bottled Water Association. Bottles of water are often what's available. There’s no doubt that it is a convenient choice. But is bottled water safe?
Although it seems easy to conclude that bottled water would be treated with a water filter system, it may not be the healthiest choice. Drinking bottled water also places a drain on the environment to boot. Judge the pros and cons of bottled water versus other choices.
What's in bottled water?
Because manufacturers stretch the truth in their marketing, it's hard to know whether the water you're drinking comes from a sparkling mountain spring or has even been treated in any way that increases the quality. Approximately 25 percent or more of bottled water is actually just tap water, according to the National Resources Defense Council. So although it may not hurt you, it may not be anything better than what's coming from your sink.
Regardless of whether the bottled water you drink is truly pure and heathy, keeping your home or business stocked with bottled water is an expensive proposition. If you're looking for alternatives, purifying your tap water with a water filter system may be a better option to save you money in the long run.
Is bottled water safe compared to city water?
Municipal water supplies are subject to strict regulations and safety standards. Surprisingly, the same is not true for bottled water. Though bottled water is regulated, the standards are different. For example, up until recently, bottled water wasn’t even tested for the presence of E. coli bacteria.
Though safety standards are improving, testing for tap water is more advanced. It is much safer and healthier to use filtration in the home than it is to drink bottled water. Once tap water reaches your home, it has already undergone extensive filtration and testing. Any extra water filtration systems you have in place makes your running water even better.
How bottled water affects the environment
Plastic, disposable water bottles are bad for the environment because they aren’t sustainable. Sure, most recycling programs accept plastic bottles. However, many plastic bottles find their way into landfills — a lot of businesses and people don’t even bother to recycle.
It is estimated that three out of four water bottles end up in landfills. Once there, they take around fifty years or more to decompose.
Alternatives to bottled water
Despite the cons, bottled water is still a popular choice because of its convenience factor. Instead of purchasing all those disposable water bottles, a better alternative is using a safe, reusable bottle with your filtrated tap water. A water filter system takes advantage of the benefits of municipal water with the additional benefits of further water purification at the counter or whole house level.
A bottleless water cooler—many models of which have a water filter —are also an option.
Drinking bottled water can be harmful for your health and for the environment. However, plenty of safe alternatives exist. If you're asking yourself "Is bottled water safe?" you might want to consider cheaper, healthier and better-for-the-environment options for access to pure drinking water on a day-to-day basis.