efficient http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/4219/all en-US Getting by on a lot less money: 3 ways it's easier than you think http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-on-a-lot-less-money-3-ways-its-easier-than-you-think <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/getting-by-on-a-lot-less-money-3-ways-its-easier-than-you-think" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bend-in-railroad_0.jpg" alt="Bend in railroad tracks" title="Bend in railroad tracks" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="208" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I spent my whole adult life trying to figure out how to get by on a lot less money, because I wanted to be a full-time writer and knew that it wouldn't pay enough to support the lifestyle I was living. Now that I've made the transition, I can see that I was worrying needlessly--there are three sources of big savings that come along almost automatically when you start to get by on a lot less money.</p> <p>What prompted me to write this piece was finding an old notebook that had a page of notes I'd made in 2004, trying to figure out if it'd be possible to retire at (by odd coincidence) the end of 2009.</p> <p>The brief notes weren't a full analysis, just a quick sketch of a couple of ideas. You see, I knew I had certain retirement resources that would become available at certain dates--a small pension from my former employer, 401(k) and IRA accounts, and Social Security. A full analysis would integrate all of those items into a unified plan; my notes were just a one-page sketch looking at a simplified version: Could just my <strong>non-retirement savings</strong> support me from 2009 until 2024 (by which time all those retirement-specific resources would have become available)?</p> <p>The quick sketch in my notebook suggested that it wasn't going to be possible--and yet here I am, having already made shift a full two years earlier than my most optimistic scenario.</p> <p>The mismatch turns out to have been the amount of income replacement I was planning for. Even the &quot;low&quot; figure from my notes was about double what I've actually been living on these past two years; my baseline target figure was almost triple.</p> <p>So, why did I imagine that I'd need as much money as that? A quick look shows three big sources of savings.</p> <h2>Taxes</h2> <p>The first is taxes.</p> <p>If the reason that you're getting by on a lot less money is that your income is much lower, you'll have automatically reduced your income taxes--possibly by quite a lot. (In the United States, the income tax is rather progressive, especially for people with low incomes. A married couple can earn almost $20,000 and owe no taxes at all, simply due to exemptions and the standard deduction--and the tax rate on the next $16,700 after that is just 10%.)</p> <p>You save money on some other taxes as well when you get by on less money. In particular, the amount that goes for sales taxes drops as you buy less stuff. Further, in many states (including mine), the sales tax rate on groceries and pharmaceuticals is lower than on general merchandise--so, as you spend relatively more on necessities, your average sales tax rate drops too.</p> <p>If course, if any of your money for getting by comes in the form of self-employment earnings, you're stuck paying both halves of the Social Security tax, a terribly regressive tax that hits low-income self-employed folks pretty hard. Still--if you're getting by on a lot less money, you're probably paying a lot less in taxes.</p> <h2>Saving for retirement</h2> <p>Another big drop in expenses is that, once you retire (or semi-retire, or start getting by on a lot less money in whatever form you do it), you can quit saving for retirement.</p> <p>During my period of peak saving, I was putting 15% of my gross income into my 401(k) and putting about as much again into regular (not tax-advantaged) savings and investments.</p> <p>When I took the time to track my spending, this was already clear. But even then--and especially when I tried to just do a back-of-the-envelope calculation--it was hard to get past imagining that I'd need to replace most of my take-home pay if I wanted to maintain my standard of living. In fact, though, once I'd saved enough money to support myself through retirement, I didn't need to keep stuffing large amounts of money into savings.</p> <p>With 30% of my gross going into savings, and about as much going to taxes of one sort or another, the amount I had available for spending was already only about 40% of my gross. The old rules of thumb that you'd need to replace 70% or 80% of your pay in retirement are just crazy--at least for someone who's preparing to retire early.</p> <h2>Efficiency</h2> <p>There's one more big source of easy cost savings that comes along almost automatically once you quit working at a regular job: efficiency.</p> <p>Someone who's working full time ends up spending a lot of extra money just keeping the household running. Over and over again, the person working a full-time job pays extra to get things done in a way that integrates as smoothly as possible with the demands of full-time work:</p> <ul> <li>You hire people to do stuff that you could do yourself, except you're at work.</li> <li>You pay extra to get things done at the last minute because you're too busy working to keep track and plan ahead.</li> <li>You buy things you wouldn't even need, except that you don't have time to be <strong>sure</strong> that you don't need them--and you won't have time to come back and get it later if it turns out that you do.</li> </ul> <p>The efficiencies that come from having an entirely flexible schedule are huge: You need less, and those things that you do still need are needed less urgently. This gives you a chance to wait for deals, to seek out substitutes, and (most importantly) to simply wait and see if you can't get by without it. After all, if it turns out that you really do need it, you can go get it then.</p> <p>Once you're past the need put aside big bucks for a future retirement--and pay the taxes on earning those big bucks--and no longer have to pay extra to make everything fit your work schedule, it's not so expensive to get by as you might imagine.<br /> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-on-a-lot-less-money-3-ways-its-easier-than-you-think">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/will-a-dental-discount-plan-save-you-money">Will A Dental Discount Plan Save You Money?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/optimize-your-ira-and-401k">Optimize Your IRA and 401(k)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/six-ways-to-stay-warm-and-reduce-the-heating-bill">Six Ways to Stay Warm and Reduce the Heating Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/dont-despair-over-small-retirement-savings">Don&#039;t Despair Over Small Retirement Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-questions-that-reveal-if-you-and-your-partner-are-a-money-match">7 Questions That Reveal If You and Your Partner Are a Money Match</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance Frugal Living efficiency efficient retirement savings saving savings taxes Fri, 19 Jun 2009 17:19:46 +0000 Philip Brewer 3286 at http://www.wisebread.com How Not To Freeze For Nearly Free http://www.wisebread.com/how-not-to-freeze-for-nearly-free <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-not-to-freeze-for-nearly-free" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/P1020073_5.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="255" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>We&#39;ve finally just figured out how to stay cool for the summer, and now it&#39;s starting to get chilly (or already has, depending on where you live)! Time to switch gears, pull out the extra blankets and figure out how to keep your money from flying away with the wind this winter. When it’s cold outside, the cost of staying comfy often starts to heat up. Here are a few ways to survive with just a little bit of effort and not a lot of dough.</p> <p>1. <strong>First and foremost, make sure your house isn’t inviting in the chill.</strong> Make the time (and maybe a small monetary investment) to ensure windows and doors are sealed properly. You can buy weather stripping at any hardware store. Or, you can roll towels to put under the doors to kill the draft (hey, nobody said being thrifty was fashionable <em>all</em> the time).</p> <p>2. <strong>Become a furnace. </strong>Most body heat escapes from your head. So, a hat can make a huge difference. Technically, another place heat easily escapes is your thighs. Putting an extra blanket on your lap can be really helpful too, or you can wear Long Johns under your jeans if you can stand them. There is no particular study to prove my own personal theory, but being a woman, I know that if my feet get cold, the rest of me follows suit. Socks are a quick fix for this. I always carry an extra pair in my purse in case I need to double up.</p> <p>3.<strong> If you don’t have carpet, buy some throw rugs. </strong>There is no faster way for your tootsies to become popsicles than to walk on a cold floor (even if you follow the sock rule).</p> <p>4. <strong>Buy an electric blanket.</strong> Most of us are especially cold while cuddled up on the couch trying to get through our favorite weekly sitcom. Why? Because we are doing nothing – or nothing productive anyway. So, instead of cranking up the heat in the whole house, just make yourself warmer in the places you are the least active, and most cold.</p> <p>4. <strong>Cook more.</strong> This will help with your take-out food expenses and the heat in a working kitchen goes a long way to keep you toasty.</p> <p>5. <strong>Close all the doors in the house to rooms you seldom use.</strong> If your office is just for storage, let the boxes and file cabinets get frostbite and keep the heat where you need it most.</p> <p>6.<strong> Use space heaters.</strong> If you buy energy efficient ones, you’ll save money on your central heating bill. Space heaters are particularly good for areas like under your desk to keep your lower body warm, or in a bathroom where you don’t need the heat pumping in full-time when you only occupy it occasionally.</p> <p>7. <strong>A quick heat-me-up can do the trick. </strong>My blow dryer is my best friend in the winter. If I’m really cold, I use it for about 30 seconds to warm up my arms, head or whatever is icy. A lot of times you waste your own body&#39;s energy trying to get warm. It’s much easier to stay warm.</p> <p>8. <strong>Let Mother Nature help.</strong> If the sun is out, let it in. Open the blinds or curtains on the side of the house the sun rises on (and then remember to close them later). You’d be surprised how much it can actually heat up through the windows. And if everything is sealed properly, the house should hold it well.</p> <p>9. <strong>Don’t use your gas fireplace.</strong> Last winter I had a repairman come to fix my stove while my gas fireplace was blazing. He told me it’s one of the quickest ways to a raging gas bill with the least amount of effectiveness. Who knew? You are basically paying for the “pretty” on that one.</p> <p>10. <strong>Find a buddy.</strong> Grab your guy, girl, or cat. Anything warm blooded to cuddle with is an almost instant way to stop the shivers. And since you already have them, it might very well be the cheapest and most fun way too!</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/amy-b-scher">Amy B. Scher</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-not-to-freeze-for-nearly-free">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/six-ways-to-stay-warm-and-reduce-the-heating-bill">Six Ways to Stay Warm and Reduce the Heating Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-successful-savers-do">5 Things Successful Savers Do</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-lower-water-heater-costs">7 Ways To Lower Water Heater Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-on-a-lot-less-money-3-ways-its-easier-than-you-think">Getting by on a lot less money: 3 ways it&#039;s easier than you think</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-ways-to-prepare-your-car-for-winter">7 Ways to Prepare Your Car for Winter</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living efficient energy save winter Fri, 12 Oct 2007 17:38:07 +0000 Amy B. Scher 1277 at http://www.wisebread.com Bottled Water, Bottled Hype Part 2 http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-2 <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-2" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/plastic bottle.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="179" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This is the second in a three-part series about bottled water. To read the first installment, <a href="/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-1"><em>click here</em></a><em>. To read the third installment, </em><a href="/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-3"><em>click here</em></a><em>.</em></em></p> <p>Bottled water companies do an excellent job of marketing their product. Don&#39;t think I haven&#39;t fallen for it a time or two. I have. I do occasionally buy bottled water, and of course, there are times when water in a bottle is your only option. If I have a choice between a bottle of Coca Cola and a bottle of water, I&#39;ll go for the water (and recycle the bottle, if at all possible). And there <strong>are</strong> places, even in the US, in which the tap water is darn near undrinkable straight out of the tap. Recalling the taste of the tap water in my Brooklyn apartment still sends a little shudder down my spine.</p> <p>In any case, seeing as how I live in a glass house with my occasional bottle of Evian, I&#39;m <strong>not throwing stones at people</strong> who choose to drink bottled water every now and then (despite what some slightly <em>challenged</em> readers might think), even if bottled-water drinkers have access to clean and tasty tap water. But what about people who ONLY drink bottled water, even with access to clean municipal water? Why do they do it? </p> <h4>Isn&#39;t It Ironic? Don&#39;t You Think?</h4> <p>I&#39;d argue that they&#39;re probably health-conscious people who have bought into an idea sold by the water bottling companies - that their clean, pure water cleanses your body and flushes out toxins. The irony of this is that<strong> people who are concerned about environmental toxins in their systems are only helping to perpetuate the pollution and enviromental degradation</strong> by buying bottled water, the production of which just makes everything worse off in the long run.</p> <p>Or, in the case of my friend, some water drinkers are absolutely convinced that their tap water must be dirty.</p> <p>Now, we all fall under the spell of marketing campaigns that sell us an image as well as a product (if I drink this beer, chicks in bikinis will dig me; if I wear this lipstick, I&#39;m irresistible to men - and it won&#39;t kiss off on their collars!), but in this case, we&#39;re paying good money for something that we can get for so much cheaper. At least with things like deodorant or snazzy cars or jewelry, we are making purchases of good that we couldn&#39;t easily create or access on our own. I don&#39;t have the resources to make my own Chanel lipstick from scratch.</p> <h4>Creating Demand</h4> <p>Companies that bottle and sell water make all kinds of claims about the health benefits of drinking their products. A couple of great examples are Fiji Water, from the Fiji Islands, and Evian, which hails from France.</p> <p>From <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/01/21/BUGE7NL8RA1.DTL">SF Gate.com</a>: </p> <p class="blockquote">The Web site for Fiji Water (fijiwater.com) says the water &quot;is drawn from an artesian aquifer, located at the very edge of a primitive rainforest, hundreds of miles away from the nearest continent.&quot; That distance, it adds, &quot;is part of what makes us so much more pure and so much healthier than other bottled waters.&quot; </p> <p>Grace Jeon, Fiji Water&#39;s vice president of marketing, said Fiji Water has a naturally high level of silica, which she said &quot;helps strengthen your hair, skin and nails.&quot;</p> <p>David Schardt, senior nutritionist at Washington&#39;s Center for Science in the Public Interest, said it appears that Fiji Water is taking liberties with the purported health benefits of silica. </p> <p>&quot;There are no studies showing that the silica in Fiji Water has any demonstrable effect on the human body,&quot; he said. </p> <p>Fiji Water has done an amazing job, under the tutelage of some <a href="http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/01/21/BUGE7NL8RA1.DTL">very smart owners</a>, becoming a premier designer water. Fiji water is so coveted that Sarah Silverman has spoofed it as something that a diva demands. And how can we resist? A <a href="http://artvoice.com/issues/v6n6/bottled_insanity">remote, tropical location</a>? Palm trees and frangipani? I can smell the coconut suntan lotion from here.</p> <p>Because of its remote location, Fiji Water remains probably the most inefficient form of hydration. The <a href="http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/02/pablo_calculate.php">production of one bottle of water</a> requires 7 times the amount of water that is IN the bottle.</p> <p>Evian was the Queen of Bottled Water until Fiji cam along and started touting it&#39;s benefits. Evian claims to be bottled in the French Alps (how much purer can you get than that?) and their main web page reads simply &quot;evian detox&quot;. Evian&#39;s iconic white-capped mountains definitely speak of pure, clean and fresh water.</p> <p>Evian also has a really bizarre, almost Evangelically-virgin-y-sounding &quot;<a href="http://www.detoxwithevian.co.uk/index.cfm">Purity Pact</a>&quot; that you can sign up for - test your purity, and vow not to drink anything but Evian! This is for the UK site, probably the &quot;<a href="http://www.puritytest.net/">Purity Test</a>&quot; that you can take online would cause most younger Americans to snicker. Loudly. </p> <p>Dasani is one of the most affordable bottled waters available in the US, at about $1 per 18-ounce bottle. Owned and bottled by the Coca Cola Company, <a href="http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0304-04.htm">Dasani is just tap water</a>. Filtered tap water, but tap water nonetheless.</p> <p class="blockquote">This is the essence of brand equity, and it&#39;s why consumers are happy to pay over the odds for Welsh TyNant water in Cyprus, or French Evian in the Peruvian Andes. It&#39;s also why the &quot;water sommelier&quot; has become a feature of upmarket U.S. restaurants. </p> <p>&quot;Branding does matter, even for a mundane product like water,&quot; Frits van Dijk, chief executive of Nestle Waters, said last year. </p> <p>&quot;We produce value-added waters. Marketing and R&amp;D all have to be financed somehow and that&#39;s why you&#39;ll never see Nestle in the very low price market. It&#39;s not our territory.&quot; </p> <p>There you have it. Value-added waters. And by &quot;value&quot;, they mean &quot;this water costs us next to nothing to bring to market, but you&#39;ll pay through the nose for it&quot;. Think about it - the mark-up on something like a can or bottle of Coke is pretty steep. Production costs, even factoring bottling and transportation costs, are minimal, so Coca Cola makes great profits on every bottle that we purchase. But compared to bottled tap water that has been run through a filter, a bottle of Coke is <strong>expensive</strong> to manufacture. </p> <p>By the way, Dasani gets an interestingly mixed review regarding its taste at <a href="http://www.bevnet.com/reviews/dasani/">The BevNET.com</a>.</p> <p class="blockquote">This water, which has a slightly grainy appearance, actually has a somewhat pleasant taste. Unlike many other bottled waters which taste like plastic, Dasani has a clean and pure flavor that we found to be quite refreshing. Overall, a fairly decent bottled water with a pleasant taste.</p> <p>I&#39;m afraid I have no idea what to make of &quot;grainy appearance&quot;. Are they talking about the bottle? The water is grainy? Would that be the opposite of silky (which is how Fiji Water describes their drinking experience)?</p> <p>Designer water is an increasingly popular thing, but it can be easy to be mislead about the source of the water. There are sites set up that are <a href="http://www.finewaters.com/">dedicated</a> to telling you what waters taste the best. I once stayed in a hipster hotel in Portland, OR, that provided a couple of $8 bottles of water in each room. Glass bottles, snazzy caps, lovely packaging. The name included an umlat, to indicate just how exotic it was. But like exotically-named <a href="http://www.hearhear.us/articles/2006/07/26/haagen-dazs-aztec">Häagen-Dazs</a> ice cream, it was all about appearances: it was tap water (you had to read the fine print to figure that out).</p> <p>Now, again, I&#39;m not saying it&#39;s a sin to buy a bottle of Dasani or even Evian if you are thirsty and need water and find yourself somewhere without access to good, healthy, tasty water. But to do so every day, to purchase these products in lieu of being prepared and providing your own bottle of clean tap water, filtered or not... well, I&#39;m not going to call it a sin, but is it a responsible choice?</p> <h4>What About Taste?</h4> <p>My best friend is a great guy. He doesn&#39;t waste stuff. I&#39;ve got him recycling. He doesn&#39;t blow money on useless crap. He&#39;s frugal. He also, until last week, would buy flats of bottled water at Costco every couple of weeks, because he believes that the water from his tap is bad.</p> <p>Seattle has some pretty safe tap water. It isn&#39;t as tasty as the stuff I grew up with (yummy, rural well water that was so ridiculously pure that it even tasted slightly sweet), but it isn&#39;t bad, either. It&#39;s certainly better than the water I have tasted in other larger cities.</p> <p>I&#39;m very sensitive to smells and tastes, and I can smell the tiniest amount of chlorine in a glass of wafter. Even then, our tap water is pretty good. But I still filter it, which is a habit that I developed when I lived on the East Coast.</p> <p>I know a lot of people who have come to the conclusion that our tap water is dirty or unsafe or full of chemicals. But I&#39;ve actually noticed that these people (they include two coworkers, the aforementioned best friend, three family members, and a couple fo good friends) will drink the tap water served in restaurants without a complaint. Sure, maybe they don&#39;t want to pay $6 for a bottle of Evian and are just drinking the water out of a sense of frugality. Or maybe they assume that swanky restaurants serve really good tap water. Whatever the case is, I&#39;d bet my Brita filter that most of these people wouldn&#39;t be able to tell the difference in a blind taste test between tap water and bottled water.</p> <p>ABC&#39;s 20/20 claims that their unscientific blind taste test found that participants <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/2020/Health/story?id=728070&amp;page=1">couldn&#39;t tell the difference</a> between tap and bottled water. According to the Mr. Mustachio himself, John Stossel:</p> <p class="blockquote">In our test of bottled waters, Kmart&#39;s American Fare — the cheapest brand — won. Big-seller Aquafina came in second. Iceland Spring tied the ordinary tap water for third place. Fifth place went to Poland Spring, and in last place, by far, with almost half the testers saying it tasted bad, was the most expensive water — the fancy French stuff, Evian. </p> <p>But let&#39;s just assume you can tell the difference - are you certain that your bottled water is any more pure than the tap water? Since many bottled waters actually come from the tap, how can you be certain that you are taking a real purity pledge when you pay through the nose for bottled water?</p> <h4>What about chemicals? Isn&#39;t bottled water safer?</h4> <p>Many Americans claim to drink bottled water because they feel like tap water is unsafe to drink. And according to the FDA, it&#39;s true that bottled water has stricter rules on the allowable levels of some dangerous chemicals, such as lead:</p> <p class="blockquote">&quot;Generally, over the years, the FDA has adopted EPA standards for tap water as standards for bottled water,&quot; Kim says. As a result, standards for contaminants in tap water and bottled water are very similar.</p> <p>However, in some instances, standards for bottled water are different than for tap water. Kim cites lead as an example. Because lead can leach from pipes as water travels from water utilities to home faucets, the EPA set an action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) in tap water. This means that when lead levels are above 15 ppb in tap water that reaches home faucets, water utilities must treat the water to reduce the lead levels to below 15 ppb. In bottled water, where lead pipes are not used, the lead limit is set at 5 ppb. Based on FDA survey information, bottlers can readily produce bottled water products with lead levels below 5 ppb. This action was consistent with the FDA&#39;s goal of reducing consumers&#39; exposure to lead in drinking water to the extent practicable.</p> <p>That seems fairly reassuring, especially to people who are worried about exposure to <a href="http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lead/lead1.html">lead poisoning</a>. And in older buildings, lead in the water can be a serious problem, but it is usually mitigated by simply running the water for twenty minutes or so. Interestingly, the FDA doesn&#39;t say anything about how the regulate the bottled water industry, or whether or not they inspect the bottling plants, or how the verify that the water sold comes from the advertised destination.</p> <p>According to the <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/bw/chap4.asp">Natural Resources Defense Council</a>:</p> <p class="blockquote">Gaping holes remain in the regulatory fabric for bottled water, and FDA and state resources dedicated to bottled water protection and enforcement generally are thin to nonexistent. For example, FDA&#39;s head bottled water regulator estimates that FDA has just <em>one half</em> of a person (full-time equivalent or FTE) per year dedicated to bottled water regulation. <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/bw/chap4.asp#note114"><font size="1"><sup>[114]</sup></font></a> Similarly, bottled water compliance is a low priority for FDA, so specific figures are not kept for resources dedicated to ensuring it meets standards; the compliance office estimated in 1998 that a likely total of &quot;less than one&quot; FDA staff person (FTE) is dedicated to bottled water compliance. <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/bw/chap4.asp#note115"><font size="1"><sup>[115]</sup></font></a></p> <p>The NDRC report, which I highly recommend as some good, tree-huggin&#39; readin&#39;, states very clearly that they are not suggesting that bottled water is any less pure than tap water, and state that they have documented tap water contamination in the past. But they also point out that water bottled and sold in the same state is NOT subject to the FDA regulations, as flimsy as those regulations are. </p> <p><a href="http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/0205-01.htm">According to the Earth Policy Institute</a>, &quot;[t]he U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sets more stringent quality standards for tap water than does the Food and Drug Administration for the bottled stuff....&quot;</p> <p>Dasani is just filtered tap water, like we mentioned. Sure, it might be purer than the water from your tap, but is that worth the cost when you could just filter it yourself?</p> <h4>What about Fiji Water, the <a href="http://money.cnn.com/galleries/2007/biz2/0701/gallery.101dumbest_2007/20.html">purest of the pure</a>?</h4> <p class="blockquote">Los Angeles-based Fiji Water runs magazine ads for its bottled water with the headline &quot;The Label Says Fiji Because It&#39;s Not Bottled in Cleveland.&quot; </p> <p>Cleveland officials retaliate by running tests revealing that Fiji bottled water contains 6.3 micrograms of arsenic per liter, while the city&#39;s tap water has none. </p> <p><em>This is the second in a three-part series about bottled water. To read the first installment, </em><a href="/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-1"><em>click here</em></a><em>. To read the third installment, </em><a href="/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-3"><em>click here</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p>(Photo by <a href="http://www.recyclethis.co.uk/">How Can I Recycle This?</a>)</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/andrea-karim">Andrea Karim</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-2">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-1">Bottled Water, Bottled Hype Part 1</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-or-tap-the-right-choice-for-water-may-surprise-you">Bottled or Tap: The Right Choice for Water May Surprise You</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/unbearably-stupid-packaging">Dumbest packaging ever?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bottled-water-bottled-hype-part-3">Bottled Water, Bottled Hype Part 3</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/eight-natural-ways-to-make-water-more-flavorful">Eight Natural Ways to Make Water More Flavorful</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Food and Drink Green Living bottled branding chemicals Dasani detox efficient Evian Fiji lead marketing packaging pure water Thu, 19 Apr 2007 18:11:54 +0000 Andrea Karim 527 at http://www.wisebread.com