Bottled Water, Bottled Hype Part 3

By Andrea Karim on 20 April 2007 (Updated 12 July 2007) 32 comments

This is the third in a three-part series about bottled water. To read the first installment, click here. To read the second installment, click here.

We’ve talked a bit about bottled water. I’m of the opinion that, if you have access to safe tap water (that may taste a little chloriney), then buying bottled water is downright irresponsible. Both from a fiscal and an environmental standpoint.

Readers who clearly had no idea, despite repeated assurances to the contrary, that I would be addressing water taste and cleanliness in this series, posted comments to the effect of "My water tastes bad - suck on it."

Point taken. Sort of. I have lived in places in which the water tasted downright awful, so I can sympathize. I've lived in places in which the water was not safe to drink, too. But for those of us who have access to clean drinking water that just tastes a little... meh... then I believe we have the responsibility to take advantage of it. It doesn't take much to make most water taste better.

As pointed out in the first thread, the people who often drink only bottled water usually have enough money to do so, and they drink it for health reasons (they belive it's purifying, or whatever). But bottling and transporting water is polluting, and I'll bet that half of those bottled-water-only drinkers don't give it a second thought.

Are we drinking clean water?

As the authors of a water quality paper from Virginia Tech noted in 1998:

There is no such thing in nature as "pure" water. Nearly all water contains contaminants, even in the absence of pollution-causing activities. Many dissolved minerals, organic compounds, and microorganisms find their way into water supplies as water comes into contact with air and soil. When contaminant levels in water are excessive, they may affect certain household activities and/or be detrimental to human health.

There is no doubt that water quality is decreasing all across the world. Chemical pollutants from pesticides from orchards and crop fields, chemicals from manufacturing and refining processes, and the runoff from our streets and highways all contribute to increasingly toxic water. We in the US and Canada are luckier than some other parts of the world, because our local governments conduct extensive testing of our water supplies. This doesn't mean that dangerous chemicals don't get through, because they do. And according to the Environmental Protection Agency, only 90% of water supplies in the US meet the standards for safe drinking water.

Well, you can argue that 90% is high. But what the EPA doesn't say is how many people live in the areas supplied by the 10% of water supplies that DON'T meet their standards.

The CDC has an excellent list of possible causes of nasty drinking water, and what you should do if you experience the nastiness.

Now, this is a real concern. I'm one of those few people who actually drinks a LOT of water every day. I made a vow a while back that I would do whatever I could to keep myself hydrated and keep my kidneys happy, so I drink just short of a gallon of water every day. So trust me, I understand the fears associated with tainted water - I drink so much of it that I would be in a riskier place than a lot of other people should my water be filled with dangerous chemicals.

Filter? Purify? Huh?

The terms that are used to define clean water can be a little confusing. Some people would argue that purifying water means removing the bacteria and other harmful organisms, whereas filtering refers to removing particulate matter. I'd use those terms interchangably. Ironically, water can be "purified" of harmful organisms through adding sodium hypochlorite, a chemical that retards microorganism growth, and a substance that is responsible for the "pool water" taste that many city water supplies experience.

For the sake of simplicity, let's just summarize the following steps that are taken to make your drinking water safe for you to drink. Please note that listing these procedures does not imply that I approve of all of them.

Filter: There are several different filtering processes that water goes through between the original supply and your tap. Filtering removes particulate matter.

Purification: Purification is the process of destroying or limiting harmful bacteria that can grow in water supplies. It should be noted that harmful bacteria are often present in seemingly natural, spring-fed waters, which is why you aren't supposed to slurp from any creek you come across while hiking and camping. Purification can also involve boiling.

Softening: Adding sodium to the water to counteract naturally occuring salts and other minerals that can clog pipes (click here for a good explanation). "Hard" water isn't bad for you, but it cruds everything up, and leaves nasty deposits in your shower. Hard water can also have a strange taste, but some people believe that it has medical benefits. After all, mineral water is sold as a healthy thing. Calcium, magnesium, zinc... these are minerals that we consume in supplement form for fear of not getting enough!

Now, it's important to note that most bottled water is filtered or purified in some way. As to whether or not bottled water is better than tap water, well, that varies so much that it's hard to say.

Do consider this, though: much bottled water is nothing more than tap water run through a filter. Like the kind of filter you can buy at home. So why pay so much more to have someone else filter it for you when you can do it yourself?

Testing Your Tap Water

Your local governement or water monitoring agency should provide a yearly water quality report. The EPA provides links to these reports, organized by state, then county, on their web site. Not every county is included, so do try a Google search for your area's water supply report if you can't find it on the EPA site. It's never a bad idea to understand your water quality, so give it a look.

The aforementioned Virginia water quality paper gives these instructions for testing your tap water.

Your local Health Department and Cooperative Extension Offices can provide you with information about water testing labs most accessible to you. The yellow pages of your phone book may also be helpful. Look under the following listings: Laboratories-testing, Water analysis, Water purification, and Water treatment to name a few. Be sure to ask any laboratory you contact for a certification number indicating that it has been approved at the state level.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

Always contact the water testing laboratory beforehand to obtain proper sample containers and specific instructions on where and how to take the sample, as well as how and when to deliver the sample to the laboratory. After receiving the test results, contact the laboratory if you have any problems interpreting the specifics of the report. Again, you can contact your local Health Department and Cooperative Extension Office for assistance in evaluating the significance of your results, and any actions you should take to solve identified problems.

You have the right to know if your tap water is clean or not. These tests may involve a fee, but it shouldn't be more than $20.

Be wary of online tests that you can order from various filtration companies. These companies have a vested interest in telling you that your water simply isn't pure enough to drink, because then they can sell you expensive filters.

Home Filtration

I filter my water using a Brita filter. I know other people who use a Pur faucet cap on their drinking water. I do this, because even though my ta water is fairly clean, every now and then, I get that chlorine taste. And I hate it.

Brita claims that their filtration systems cost roughly $0.18 per gallon, which is a significant improvement over $9.85 per gallon (or $5 per gallor or even $1 per gallon). This, for me, makes more sense than buying my water in plastic bottles.

Drawbacks

There are potential drawbacks* to filtering water using certain methods: you may remove minerals that some people think are really important to consume, and you remove some of the fluoride that many municipalities dump into the water supply to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is incredibly controversial, and aside from politics, I can't think of a better way to make some enemies in Seattle than to go to a party and loudly declare your love of all things fluoride. I had always been under the impression that fluoride=dental health, and I'm not sure if I am yet ready to abandon that idea, seeing as how the only time I ever got a cavity is when I lived in an area with a non-fluoridated water supply.

But this is something to consider - if you love fluoride, and want to consume it in mass quantities, you won't get it once you filter your water, and will have to get it from the dentist. If you hate it, and think it's evil - well, you can filter your tap water without guilt!

Not every type of filtration will remove fluoride. Click here for a list of filtration systems organized by fluoride-removal capabilities. Some readers have pointed out that Brita and Pur filters do not remove fluoride, and this is true.

It's the plastic, stupid

"But Andrea, you fool" you are saying to your computer monitor, "Aren't water filters made of plastic, at least in part? Aren't you decrying the pollution created by plastic?"

"Yes," I am forced to reply sadly. "Yes, they are."

I usually throw away my Brita filters, as there doesn't seem to be a way to recycle them here in Seattle. And I regret throwing them away, since I hate to throw away plastic (although I do use them for twice as long as is recommended by Brita; I used them until I can taste the chlorine flavor in my filtered water, then change them out). So I throw away roughly 4 Brita filters per year. Compared to the number of plastic bottles that I would use daily if I drank the same amount of water from bottles (8 per day, if drinking from 16 ounce bottles), that's a paltry amount of plastic.

It's not the ultimate solution, but it's an easy one for me to live with. And I would love it of Brita could provide filters using less plastic (maybe they will in the future) or if I could recycle them. I don't think that our planet will ever be, or should ever be, completely free of plastics, because they are a very valuable material. But reducing their use is going to be crucial for the environment, and our own health, in the long run.

I realize that there are a myriad of solutions to the water problem. I appreciate reader feedback - what do you do to get good drinking water? If you use home filtration methods, what kind do you use?

*In my first round of writing, I didn't do an adequate job of mentioning that not all filtration removes fluoride from the water. I've since corrected the sentence to point out the discrepancy. I did not mean to initially imply that Brita and Pur filters removed fluoride from the water. Although I certainly have heard some people claim that, it doesn't seem to be the case.

This is the third in a three-part series about bottled water. To read the first installment, click here. To read the second installment, click here.

Picture by Jane M. Sawyer)

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Guest's picture
Guest

According to Brita's website, their filters only remove a trace amount of flouride so you still get the benefit of flouridated water.

Guest's picture

Brita pitcher filters don't work as well as the tap mounted ones. I still use a pitcher at work though to remove that chlorine taste.

Jessica Okon's picture

A few years ago there were pages online about turning cheapo vodka into high-end vodka, running it through a Brita filter several times. While searching for a link to post here, I see the Mythbuster guys busted it!

 

Andrea Karim's picture

When I interviewed Keith Knight, I asked him about that. He claimed he couldn't verify it, but he had mentioned it in an old comic strip. Bummer! And here I was thinking I could really save a penny or two.

I HAVE heard that bad red wine can be made better by filtering it through a coffee filter, but I don't know if that's true either.

Guest's picture
WaterGuy

Reverse Osmosis, way better than Brita, only have to change filters about every 12 months, and if you add up the cost, it would be a lot less than $0.18/gallon!

Guest's picture
Insulted

Author's response to contradicting opinions: oh noes, you don't know what you're talking about! I'm an Authority, because I wrote an Article! Um, it's called research babe, look it up. You purport to understand the complicated buying habits of water drinkers (i.e. everyone) and didn't even know that filters like Brita don't remove most flouride??? Some bottled water is just tap water (but oh, FILTERED). Not all filtration is considered equal, and people have reasons for their standards. Gee, you didn't get a cavity while sucking down flouride? Proof enough! I say go start your new career in science, she who is the voice of reason for us all. I'll sleep better knowing you're out to save the world and look forward to your next article on why we should use wash cloths in a bucket next to the toilet instead of toilet paper!

Andrea Karim's picture

You're right, Paul. I'm taking down the snark.

Paul Michael's picture

...that all the folks writing snarling, negative comments at the Wisebread writers (myself included) should take a step back and realize that this is a free service provided by writers with opinions who are trying to help you live a better life. If the content is not to your liking, you certainly don't have to read it. I think we're all adults here, the attitude and offensiveness of some remarks lately has been less than fun to read.  Lets try and keep this civil folks, for all our sakes.

Andrea Karim's picture

It's going to be too exhausting from here on out to try to counter every idiot with internet access who graces Wise Bread with their drivel. So, I'm pretty much going to delete any snarling posts that don't have a valid point, starting now. That's my posting policy.

Guest's picture
Insulted

While I can appreciate that people blog for free (plus whatever I'm guessing small amount they get from ads), that doesn't mean they should post anything they want without doing research. Andrea has called posters who nicely point out other opinions as "inbred brethren" and such; not so nice. This comment will probably be censored like so many others. I just wandered over here from Reddit and was sad to see someone saying things in error like Brita filters flouride, and posted my valid response. It was barely snarky; I suggested you do your research. In fact this is one of the few times I've bothered to post a comment on the net, but it really bothered me. This is a big and important issue, but not a simple one. It deserves a more balanced approach. I personally agree that people buy too much water and that it's expensive and wasteful, but there are reasons that people believe are valid for doing so. Honestly, I'm sorry Andrea if it really hurt your feelings. I figured I could be a little blunt in my comment since you dish it out. Seriously, I'm sorry. It's hard to convey tone through the written word.

Guest's picture
Guest Kat

I'm a staunch supporter against censoring other's opinions. One reply said -paraphrasing- We're all adults let's keep it civil....
Well I say, yes we are all adults(mostly I guess)and should not be offended by opinions even if they're "sharky" whatever that means. I don't even think that's a word. Don't be a hypocrite and say this is a free site for writers to formulate their own opinions for all to read, and then tell repliers that certain tones in their opinions are not wanted. I'd say this is the biggest problem with Americans now days. "You can't take away my freedoms to do what I want to do! Hey man don't say things like that! Don't do that!" I see it all the time. I myself am an everyday Dasani drinker. I'm an American living in Canada. Dasani, which is tap water, is filtered by reverse osmosis and is then remineralized. It also has no fluoride. Regular household Brita and Pur filters are not capable of filtering chlorine and fluoride. Both are extremely toxic, and even worse can be absorbed through the skin when you take your shower or bath. My husband and I did the math we spend about $312 a year on our water. But the Berkey water filter we want is $299. http://www.berkeywater.com/start.main.html
Your points were well taken, but to say it's down right irresponsible to buy bottled water is disobliging to those who do buy water in bottles. Besides tap water is not free. Home owners have to pay for their municipal water. Apartment rent and condo fees include the cost of municipal water.Depending on where you live, like in the south west, water fees can be high.
My husband and I recycle everything we are allowed.

Guest's picture
Insulted

I just noticed you clarified the point you made about fluoride, so thanks for that. I see you understand about it being a controversial subject, and I guess I missed that you're being humerous with the point about people who might want to consume lots of flouride. I'm a big treehugger :) and I see from looking at a few pages of your posts your focus is more about economy. Not that the two can't co-exist, but it shows more what people should take from you as authority.

Andrea Karim's picture

There's no need to apologize. My feelings weren't hurt, I promise.

Let me say something about my general level of snark: no, calling someone inbred isn't very nice. Here's the direct quote from the commentor that I called inbred (I also called him retarded and rabid):

Everything you say about water also applies to every drink that comes in a bottle except those drinks take even more processing and consume even more resources. What kind a stupid idiot are you that you can't figure that out?

I'm going posit that the above quote doesn't qualify as "nicely" pointing out an opposing opinion. It does qualifiy as downright rude, and sort of beside the point. Is it mature of me to call him names afterwards? Probably not. But I feel like once someone has needlessly insulted me, I can return the favor.

We don't actually censor much in the way of comments - just the stuff we find over the top or offensive or blatantly off-topic or troll-y. I thought you were a troll who was simply trying to start a flame war.

I appreciate that you read the other parts to the bottled water article, and have come back to see what is going on. Our admins have reposted your original comment.

For the record, I advocate toilet paper use.

Guest's picture
Insulted

Actually now that I see my original comment, it was a little rougher than I meant. I was making what felt like a valid point at the time, but yeah, kinda snarky. I haven't posted much on the net, so went with it. Low blood sugar? Who noes (heh). Thanks for the second chance. I like your blog, now that I've read more of it.

LOL, love the toilet paper link. I lived in a barn on an organic CSA (community supported agriculture) farm for seven months last year working in the soil to learn what I can and can't live without. And how to grow my own food. We had amazing artisan well water. But I'm nothing close to a purist.

Anyway, I'm thinking of starting my own blog, so I'm going to learn first hand what it's like to have my thoughts interpreted and responded to. :)

Andrea Karim's picture

See, I'm going back and looking at the comment and saying - hey, that's not so bad - why did that tick me off so much? But maybe it's because I now know you're not a troll, AND I've seen what other people are saying about me on other sites. :) Comparatively, this is quite tame.

I'm impressed by that kind of environmental dedication - 7 months of barn living? Actually, we'd be really happy to hear about your experiences, and even share them, if you feel guest-blogging for us. If not, do keep us up to date on your own blog. Sustainable living is a big part of ou philosophy here.

Guest's picture
(Not)Insulted

No, it was bad enough. I look at it now and can't believe I wrote that. Today was my second day at a new job (vitamin and herb shop). Maybe it was pre new job stress? My blog ambitions seem to be in an extended planning stage :) but if/when it gels I'd love for you to take a look at it.

I live in Milwaukee, and there's a surprising amount of sustainable living action going on here. I know, Milwaukee, who knew? There's an active sustainable living yahoo group for the area that helps keep the different interests tied together. Oh, and I should clarify... yes, I lived in a barn, but there were bedrooms built inside. And a bathroom. :)

Guest's picture
Jeff

You, as well as many environmentalists, may find it very surprising to learn that recycling is not all it has been cracked up to be. Check out http://ecoworld.com/Home/Articles2.cfm?TID=340 for more info.

I mention this because the idea of recycling has come up repeatedly in your three part series, as well as in the user comments below. Seriously, just check out the article. I found it to be incredibly interesting when I first stumbled upon it.

Andrea Karim's picture

Actually, I'm not surprised at all. Thank you for bringing this up, by the way. I struggle with these issues every single day.

The article you linked, however, does not strike me as a definitive damning of recycling. The author doesn't link to much evidence, aside from some EPA data that I will now have to hunt down and examine, and I'm worried about the logic behind some of the arguments. Take this tidbit, for example:

Turning a live chicken into a meal creates food waste. When chickens are processed commerically, the waste goes into waste. When chickens are processed commercially, the waste goes into marketable products (such as pet food), instead of into a landfill.

I'm a bit baffled by that one.

I think that lots of environmentalists struggle with issues like recycling - I do think about things like, does it consume more water to make a new plastic bottle, or to recycle the one I just used? I don't think we have any hard, definitive data to answer this question yet. The article doesn't answer those questions, but it does raise some points that we definitely need to explore further. Also, I think it sets up a few strawman arguments that are easy to knock down.

But you are correct - recycling as we do it now isn't a be all, end all solution to our problems.

Guest's picture
Jeff

I don't think the article ever set out to be against recycling. At least, I never read it that way. What I took away from the article, honestly, was the idea that if you're not recycling, don't worry about it, because while there may not be anything inherently wrong with recycling, it's also not as fantastic as people would frequently have you believe.

When I moved into the apartment building where I currently reside, the manager told me that the trash is picked up by a service which sorts our garbage into recyclable stuff and non-recyclable stuff. Because of this, she said, feel free to throw all your trash away together.

Why did I believe her? I don't know. I guess part of me didn't understand why she'd lie about such a thing. Another part of me, of course, took the story as an easy excuse to be lazy. So, yeah, I just throw everything out together. "It'll get taken care of", I tell myself.

Well, once, at a party, a guest couldn't believe that not only was I not recycling, I was also being so flippant about it with my "whatever" attitude. I explained it was sorted elsewhere, or so I was told. Needless to say, she did not believe that actually happened, and was a little surprised that I did believe it.

Someone else interupted the conversation, told me to not feel so bad, and pointed me towards that link. I read it, and ya know what, I really don't feel bad anymore. First of all, I cling to the remote possibility that my trash is actually sorted and handled appropriately. But, in the more probable scenario that it isn't... well... whatever. ;)

Guest's picture

I totally agree with WaterGuy. Personal reverse osmosis systems are small versions of the systems used to make bottled water, but without the overhead of coca-cola, evian, etc, attached. A good system used at a decent clip (ie 50% or so of your daily drinking water) will pay for itself easily in the first year. And you can even give your pets some of that delicious water!

I have more info on my site, feel free to link to it.

http://www.homeosmosis.com

Guest's picture
Beth

I believe the Aquasana filter is a more ecologically viable alternative to Brita. From what I understand (and I haven't tried it yet; I just know what the company rep told me) the Aquasana cartridge is wrapped in a thin film and has 2 plastic end caps, but the bulk of it is activated carbon that will biodegrade. I think they are made with much less plastic than Brita filters.

Brita filters are not recyclable in the U.S., although they are in Europe. When I questioned a Brita rep, I was told that the filters are made using a different technology in Europe. I'm not sure I buy that, but it's enough to make me want to stop buying the cartridges.

By the way, I found your site when I was trying to research what could be the difference between the different Brita filters. I still don't know. I do know that I am trying to eliminate as much plastic waste from my life as possible. I've published my correspondence with Brita on my web site: http://www.fakeplasticfish.com.

Guest's picture
Guest

If you're so concerned about cost, taste, and truckloads of bottles, then just start using the machines that dispense water by the gallon. These machines are ubiquitous, but yet no one seems to know about them. They have many brands and names, but basically, you bring a container up to the machine and it filters/purifies the tap water for about $.25 per gallon. There's your cost. I bought a special container that doesn't leach Bisphenol A, and it was $.25 at the supermarket. It is made of Polypropylene plastic (recycling symbol #5). The machine I use is by Arctic, and it goes thru 7 filter/purification methods (2 carbon [brita], 2 UV [viruses and bacteria], coarse materials, reverse osmosis, etc), all for the same cost. It dispenses at 1 or 5 gallons at a time.
This water tastes great, just as good as any other water purified by reverse osmosis. And lastly, since I reuse my gallon containers indefinitely, I never throw away any bottles, not even 4 brita filters per year. I go thru about 1-2 5-gallon jugs a month between my girlfriend and I, so about 2 dollars a month or around $25 a year. That's even cheaper than brita, tastes better than brita, and it wastes less space. And I can get it with my groceries.

Guest's picture
Guest

OK, it's not cheaper than brita ($.18/gal), but we're talking a few cents more a gallon, and I have a couple machines nearby that dispense for $.20/gallon. Plus, if they were as popular as brita, the cost would go way down, and it's a lot easier to sink $.25 into some water than $10.00 for a brita filter (plus like $30.00 for the dispenser). It's hard to tell when to change the filter, and if you're into purified/bottled/filtered water for anything besides the taste, then brita is not smart. You're fooling yourself into thinking the water is 'safer' just because it tastes better. If you are concerned about Trihalomethanes or other chemicals then you need something like RO or distillation.

Guest's picture
Jillian

While I understand that in some places the water is truly not safe to drink, due to bad pipes/bacteria/etc., I have never understood the complaints about water taste. Water tastes like water ... which is to say, nothing. Maybe my taste buds are insensitive, but I've never really noticed much of a difference between tap, filtered, and bottled water. I drink tap water, and I carry a bottle of tap water around with me most of the time.

As far as tap safety goes (at least in the US), the way I look at it is that humans drank water out of the ground for thousands of years. While its true that life expectancy wasn't what it is now, I seriously doubt that water had that big of a contribution. Animals drink shitty water all the time. People are overly paranoid. My elementary school's water fountains ran red from rust every Monday morning, and none of us ever got sick (not desirable. but still). I also kind of feel like drinking uber-purified water is like sterilizing every surface in your house: it might technically be healthy, but it probably weakens your immune system or something. What would happen to the bottled-water drinkers if they're cut off from their water source? They'll die from the tap water, and the rest of us will be fine.

Guest's picture
Rayoh

Where I live (in southern spain), we have hard water, full of salts, which makes our pipes to be full of problems, and doesn't help on drinking tap water. That's why we almost all drink bottled water.

Anyway, after reading this thread, I'm thinking on the possibilities of filters to drink tap water, as well as a solution for our pipes. Any tip on this is welcome!

What I'm concerned about is that about 3 or 4 years ago, bottled water was purely spring water, but now many big companies had bought most of local small companies, and the water quality became lower (or different) and its taste it's not the same.

Also,to say that in some supermarkets bottled water became as cheap as 0,26 euro cents for a 1,5 liters, but you have to carry it al along the way, and at least in the small town I live, there's no PET container to recycle the bottles.

Andrea Karim's picture

Hi, Rayoh. I think what you actually have is soft water (salty water is considered soft, unless there are a myriad of other dissolved chemicals that make it hard). In any case, I'm not sure what to tell you about filtering your water because I don't know what's available to you. Here, people either install a filter on their faucet or buy a filtered pitcher to fill. I use a Brita. Some people swear by the Pur filters.

My friend's family has a very intricate reverse osmosis filtration system that is installed under their sink. It filters the water several times before sending it to the faucet. But I'm not sure if all plumbing systems permit this kind of system.

No recycling in Europe? I've never heard of such a thing!

Guest's picture
Stanleyrama

First, thanks to the writer for attempting to make us all pause and think about the bottled water craze and the enormous amount of plastic it creates. I bought a PUR dispenser for my refrigerator shelf- it works great! In addition, I reuse plastic water bottles (keep a few around)or put the water in a plastic drinking bottle that's not supposed to leach harmful stuff - Buy one at your local Health food store!There's also a new bottle made from CORN that looks exactly like plastic!
Lastly, the comments about haveing a reverse osmosis filter system has made me decide to have one installed in my home.
I like the suggestion of the large water dispensor as well, they have a system at our local Health Food Co-Op, I see people using it often.
Let's all make a commitment to TALK to our friends about this, and get them to start by purchasing a home filtration (Britta or PUR filter) for the tap or a pitcher. If everyone talks about it- we can start a new revolution and Empower ourselves with our own personal filtered water at home.
Happy Holidays!

Andrea Karim's picture

Well, see the thing is, this site isn't meant to be a forum for free speech for everyone. We don't go to the trouble of writing posts so that trolls can come along and abuse the writers. It's not hypocritical to take down comments that don't add to the discussion, or are particularly snarky (that's a word, dollface, look it up), and it's site policy to remove such comments.

From a blogger's standpoint, the biggest problem in the web today is that anonymity allows people to say incredibly stupid, hurtful things with no fear of ever being found out. THAT is disobliging. Your toes would curl at some of the comments we've had to remove from this site.

Now, people are free to disagree with what I write - many do. That doesn't mean that I can't respond to their criticisms. An engaged blogger enjoys discussing these things with commenters.

People are obviously free to do whatever they want - you can buy all the bottled water in the world. It's just hilarious to me that people are so concerned over things like fluoride ("It'll be absorbed through your skin!!!!"), but not the pollutants created in the process that it took to get that water from a tap to your mouth. Buying bottled water may seem like a great way to keep toxic chemicals out of your body, but in the long run, supporting such a a wasteful method for obtaining water is hazardous to EVERYONE'S health. 

In addition, you might be interested in the following statement from Dasani:

"Fluoride is not an added ingredient in DASANI or any of our
carbonated beverage brands.  However, since our brands contain water
from the local water supply where the product is produced, whether
they contain fluoride or not will depend on whether fluoride is
present in the local water supply
. The Reverse Osmosis process does
remove more of the fluoride, thus DASANI will contain less fluoride
than our carbonated beverage brands." [emphasis mine]

I realize that a Brita or Pur filter isn't the answer to everyone's concern about clean drinking water, but it still strikes me as a better solution than buying cases of water that are trucked in from out of town (depending on where the nearest plant is, you're still probably drinking the same water you'd get out of your tap, but filtered). 

As to the cost of municipal water - I suppose that can vary from home to home, but my water bill and my Brita filters are significantly less than $300 per year. But your point about costs varying is well-taken. And now that there is so much drought in the Southeast, I won't be surprised bottled water becomes more and more common.

I should add that I recently tried Fiji water at a luncheon, and damn, it was good. I can see why people enjoy it so much. 

Guest's picture

Andrea:

I'm not sure why you'd make fun of the person who commented on what they thought was a source of fluoride absorption ("It's just hilarious to me that people are so concerned over things like fluoride ("It'll be absorbed through your skin!!!!"), but not the pollutants created in the process that it took to get that water from a tap to your mouth."). If they're concerned about fluoride (regardless of their concerns over pollutants created in the process of bottling and shipping water), then they'd naturally be concerned about absorbing it through showers or baths, and that's their right. There's plenty of evidence that the type of fluoride that gets added to drinking water, can be bad news.

But the person who was concerned about absorbing fluoride through the skin during a shower or bath, may not actually have that to worry about--from everything I've read, fluoride is not absorbed in significant levels through the skin. One might be concerned about the effects of fluoride on the skin itself, but at least it may not be a systemic problem from showers and baths. I don't know about the skin absorption of chlorine, however.

Anyone concerned about absorbing things from water during a shower, can buy a shower head filter which is supposed to do a pretty good job in removing at least chlorine. I don't have any references handy, but as usual, Googling will turn them up.

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Beka

I am a Brita user myself (although I will also do tap water with lemon or lime juice to cover the chlorine taste) and recently came across this tutorial on instructables dot com about how to refill your Brita filters. I may have to give it a try. Of course my complaints about the Brita pitcher are that it doesn't hold much water, it is top heavy (my kids are always pouring the whole top segment onto the floor when they try to pour a cup of water) and it is hard to keep all the components in place. I wish there were a better option. Reverse osmosis is definitely a great option (my parents have had the same system for close to 30 years, and it still produces great tasting water), but I don't have the funds right now. I can't get the link to show up but just search the words: instructables refill brita filter, and it will show right up.

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Guest

I have a persuasive presentation assignment for school and I have chosen the topic of bottled water and all the hype in the last decade.

My question is:

Are water coolers (those at the offices) pure water or are they the equivalence of bottled water?

Thank You

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Guest

I like your 3part series;
I think that you would be amazed and inspired if you download and watch, and share with as many as you can, Russian documentary called 'Voda' (which means 'water')

After seeing it few times I decided:
- to keep my water in glass bottles
- to wish welkome to water when I pour it in the bottle,
- to tell it (not out loud, but in my mind) that I'll leave it in the sunny spot for day - to rest and recover from it's trip trough the pipes, to absorb energy that is going to pass onto my body to help be healthy and happy - for which I am gratefull to it (it is like a little prayer).
- to avoid putting it in the fridge, I just keep it in the cool spot.

Sounds stupid?? No, please, whach documentary, and that tell me..!!!