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Bottled Water Vs. Tap Water

Essay by 24  •  January 5, 2011  •  1,699 Words (7 Pages)  •  3,753 Views

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Bottled water vs. tap water

Water is an essential part to human life. We as humans need around eight to twelve cups per day to make up for the fact that throughout normal functions such as breathing and sweating we lose an average of ten cups per day. To make sure that we are healthy and everything runs properly, we must make sure we drink the right amount of water (msnbc.com, 2004). The one question when thinking about water is what type of water will you drink? The biggest controversy is bottled water vs. tap water. Many people in the world today are switching from drinking tap water to drinking bottled water. The number of people who drink bottled water has been rising over the past few decades and by an average of 7% per year. A reason for this could be the fancy packaging. Some other reasons for this could be because bottled water is convenient and is said to taste better and be healthy for you than tap water. However this is not always the case. The water that you just paid for could have possibly come out of the municipal water supply. This article is going to show some facts about bottled water that most people did not know.

The global consumption of bottled water was 154 billion liters in 2004, up 57 percent from the 98 billion liters consumed in 1999. Even though most of the time bottled water is no healthier than tap water, it can cost up to 10,000 times more, as much as $2.50 per liter or $10 per gallon in some areas. This is almost the price of a gallon of gas. Bottled water is consumed by half of all Americans. One in six Americans drink only bottled water. The United States consumes more bottled water than any other country on earth. In 2004, the US consumed 26 billion liters, equivalent to one 8 ounce glass per person each day (Arnold and Larsen, 2006). San Francisco, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Chicago, St. Louis, and other major cities have recently jumped on the “ban bottle water” bandwagon which makes it illegal to spend the taxpayer’s city dollars on bottled water (bottlewaterblues.com). I was not surprised when I read this because the United States is at the top of the list in every other consumption category so I figured we had to be at the top or at least close to the top in this regards. Americans are getting needier as the years go on; they need their fancy bottled water and their fancy food when your bottled water could be tap water. Depending on the situation your tap water could actually be healthier for you than bottled water. I usually buy bottle of water every few weeks and just reuse that bottle over and over again.

Around 40% of bottled water comes from tap or municipal water but sold back hundreds of times the cost. Bottled water delivered costs about $1.50 per gallon and purchased it is about $1.00 per gallon. Tap water is about $0.003 per gallon. Most bottled water goes through processes such as reverse osmosis, deionization, activated carbon filtration and other treatments. FDA only regulates bottled water that crosses state lines; however bottled water sold in state is not regulated at the federal level. The FDA only requires that the source of bottled water be protected; nothing else while tap water is has EPA guidelines provide regulations for managing not only the source but the whole area around the source (nrdc.org).

There are about 7 different types of bottled waters. The first is natural mineral water, which contains minerals and trace elements and is said to have healthy benefits. It originates underground where it is protected from pollution. Iron, sulfur, and other compounds are removed to make it healthier. Spring water is another type of bottled water. It is underground water without any treatments and does not have to contain any minerals. Purified water is water from lakes, rivers, and springs that has had some form of treatments such as reverse osmosis, distillation, deionization or others. Artesian water is another source. This is water from a well that taps into an aquifer underground. Drinking water is another type which cannot contain any flavors, calories, sugar, or any other extracts. Sparkling water is water that after being treated gets the same amount of carbon dioxide put back into as it originally had. Last but not least is well water. This is water from an aquifer that had a hole drilled in the ground to get to it (Ferrier, 2001). With all these different types of bottled water do you know which one you are consuming? Are you reading your labels? If you are reading the labels, would you have any idea what the difference was between these different types of bottled waters? I think that the majority of the bottled water drinkers in the United States just buy the bottled water for the brand name on the front.

There are many impacts that bottled water has on the environment. The choice of packaging determines many impacts. The bottles, which are either plastic, aluminum, or glass, that are not recycled are thrown into landfills and buried. According to the Container Recycling Institute, 86% of plastic water bottles in the United States become garbage. If water bottlers would have used 10% recycled materials in their plastic bottles in 2004, they would have saved the equivalent of 72 million gallons of gasoline. If they used 25%, they would have saved enough energy to power more than 680,000 homes for a year (Jemmott, 2008). Incinerating used bottles produces toxins such as chlorine gas and ash. Water bottles that get buried can take up to thousands of years to biodegrade. The most common type of plastic is polyethylene terephthalate (PET) which is a resultant of crude oil (Arnold and Larsen, 2006). To bottle, transport, and recycle bottles took around 17 million more barrels of oil last year and generated 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide. Another way to look at this is that the energy costs required in the lifecycle of a bottle of water is equal to filling up each individual bottle a quarter full of oil (thinkoutsidethebottle.org). Car trips to the store also contribute towards the increase in fossil fuel usage and pollute air quality. The FDA does not mandate that watersheds be protected from companies drawing water but the EPA does mandate that municipal water suppliers protect their watersheds. The water treatment plants produce waste and consume energy and resources to power the plant and to treat and

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