Jun 28

The Best Drinking Water is (almost) Free

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I am rather fascinated by the love many have for bottled drinking water.  Apparently we drink about 200 billion bottles of drinking water annually worldwide, and this number is growing at a strong rate each and every year.  Research, however, underscores the utter wastefulness of this practice.  Drinking bottled water just does not make sense for a number of reasons.

The Love for Bottled Water

Some Popular Brands of Bottled Water

I am neither a psychologist nor a psychiatrist.  I am simply and personally confounded by the seemingly nonsensical actions of individuals and groups of individuals in many instances.  I am merely expounding my life experiences and personal observations here.

One thing that I have noticed is that water bottlers and marketers  work very hard to convince people that their drinking water is worth paying (in many cases) more that the price of gas for.   This does not make sense to me when we take a look at the facts.  In my view, people buy bottled water for one of two primary reasons: cachet and prestige and/or perceived health benefits.  Both of reasons fall flat in the water.

Cachet and Prestige

Perrier, Evian, and San Pellegrino are three bottled drinking water brands that have cachet appeal.  You can find this water at most law firms and corporate offices.  These companies spend exorbitant amounts of money promoted the exclusiveness and cachet of their drinking water.  If you are into being ‘exclusive’, don’t bother reading any more.  Just go on buying your crazily expensive bottles of water.

Health Perceptions and Facts

Many people believe that bottled water is healthier than municipal tap water.

A study by Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine as reported by TIME magazine had this to say: “Americans quaff nearly 10 billion gallons of bottled water each year, in large part because they assume, wrongly, that it’s healthier and safer than tap water.  Somewhat surprisingly, the data has suggested, underserved black and Latino families tend to spend more money than whites do on bottled water, and provide it exclusively for their kids.”

The problem is, however, that; “In fact … bottled water may be prone to bacterial contamination … What’s more, data have associated bottled water with diarrheal illness in kids.”

The article concludes: “Given the high cost and health consequences of consuming exclusively bottled water, the researchers hope their efforts will lead to public education campaigns about water from the tap: it’s free, it’s healthy and it usually even tastes good”.

Concerns about bacteria levels in bottled water are widespread.  I just Googled “bacteria levels in bottled water” and viewed close to 2 million results (many of them recent results from respected sources).  Check for yourself.

Read the Label

Look at the label of a water bottle.  You will sometimes see the source of the drinking water as well as a list of contaminant levels.   If there is no source listed, it is most probably sourced municipally and simply filtered or distilled (boiled).  Usually there are about twenty or so contaminant levels listed.  Most municipal drinking water is held to much more stringent testing standards and it is normally tested every few hours or so.

The Other Costs


Water Bottles in a Landfill

Most plastic bottles can take anywhere from 450 – 1000 years to decompose.  Harder plastics and plastic bottles deprived of oxygen can take even longer to break down.  We are leaving a landfill legacy for future generations.  Convenient? undoubtedly; but this convenience comes at the cost of future generations and eats up our shrinking landscape to an ever-growing degree.  Convenience always has a price.


Bottled water, at any price, is considerably more expensive than using the municipal drinking water supply.   Considering that most municipal water is safer and already paid for with our taxes, the cost of bottled water seems very wasteful and unnecessary.


Sure, drink municipal drinking water.

If you don’t like the taste, or prefer an even higher standard of quality, try out a high-quality water filter.  I love the Seychelle water filter pitcher and use it myself.  Here is my comprehensive review.


Bottled water doesn’t make sense for many reasons.  It is expensive, can actually be less healthy than municipal drinking water, and it creates one heck of a mess for present and future generations to deal with.  There are far less expensive and healthier alternatives if you are looking for better quality drinking water.

Do you drink bottled water or not?  Why?  Leave a comment below.

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Author: Jason Milburn Google

Frugal dad – focusing my money and energy towards happiness and the things that matter most since around 1985.

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