In 2006, Americans spent $15 billion on bottled water and an estimated $16 billion in 2007. One can argue that it’s money down the drain. About 24 percent of bottled water is just filtered tap water such as Aquafina and Dasani. You can achieve exactly the same quality of water by installing a filter on your faucet at home. If the cost ($100 or less) of purchasing a filter for your home causes you to hesitate, consider this; you can buy a half-liter of bottled water for $1.35. If you filled this same bottle with filtered tap water once a day, it would take roughly 10 years before you spent that $1.35. However, if you purchased one bottle of water every day, after 10 years you will have spent $4,927.50.
Besides the incredible savings that you get with filtered tap water, there are environmental and socially responsible reasons that just strengthen the case for the tap. Plastic is a petroleum based product. The pollutants associated with the manufacture and transportation of these plastic bottles is unnecessarily damaging to the environment. Of the 50 billion plastic water bottles used last year, about 38 billion went straight to landfills. The plastic in those landfilled bottles is worth around $1 billion. Some 12 billion bottles were recycled, but remember that plastic doesn’t recycle into the same quality plastic. It can only be recycled a finite number of times before it can no longer be recycled.
Like other water from pristine ecosystems, Fiji bottled water is collected from natural sources and shipped halfway across the earth to the United States, where we already have clean drinking water in every home. Unfortunately, Fiji doesn’t have a great public water system and last year Fijians fell ill with typhoid casued by contaminated drinking water. When more than 1 billion people in the world don’t have access to safe drinking water, buying bottled water with all its associated financial, environmental and social costs seems irresponsible—especially when a home filter gives you the same or better quality water than bottled water.
• Carafe: The simplest filtering solution. Buy a carafe that has a filter in the spout. Keep a full carafe in the fridge for pure, cold water all the time. You can even keep some of those plastic bottles and fill them up from your carafe when you’re on the go. Like all filters, you do have to change the filter with use. Positively Green recommends the Brita Classic carafe filter for $29.99 from amazon.com. 3-Pack refills cost $17.99 at amazon.com. The filter holds two quarts and it filters out mercury, organics, other metals and 0.5-1 micron particles.
• Faucet Mounted: The Pur 3 Stage Horizontal Filter mounts on standard faucets and it filters out lindane / atrazine, mercury, asbestos, organics, MTBE, cysts and 0.5-1 micron particles including lead, and chlorine. It has a bypass function to allow you to switch to unfiltered water for washing dishes. The filters last for 100 gallons. A filter change indicator lets you know when to change the filter. We found the Pur faucet mounted filter on amazon.com for $39.99 and filter replacements are $21.99 for a 3-Pack on amazon.com.
• Under Sink: The Kenmore 38461 is an excellent choice for an undersink filter. It does require making a new hole in your sink surround to install the separate faucet and this filter does not come with tools. The filter isn’t particularly easy to change, but it does remove sediments, cysts and 0.5-1 micron particles. For pricing information on this filter system and the filter replacements, see sears.com.
• Reverse Osmosis: While the reverse osmosis process does do a fantastic job of filtering water, it creates between 2 and 4 gallons of waste water for every gallon that is purified, so from a green standpoint, a reverse osmosis filter isn’t a great option.
• Whole House: A whole house filter is a good option for overall water quality, but for purifying drinking water specifically, a carafe, a faucet mounted filter or an under sink filter is the best choice.
Brita and Nalgene Outdoor Products are teaming up to help people kick the bottled water habit. Go to FilterForGood.com where you can pledge to switch to a reusable water bottle that you can fill with your own filtered tap water. For each refillable bottle purchased between now and the end of 2007, a $4 donation will be made to the Blue Planet Run Foundation, a non-profit organization working to provide safe drinking water to 200 million people by 2027.
For more information or to subscribe at the introductory price of $10 a year, go to positivelygreen.com . Positively Green magazine launches in 2008. This quarterly women’s magazine will cover every aspect of green from eco-friendly vacations to green fashion to green health. With articles that don’t just explain the problems, they outline solutions for busy people who want to make the change but don’t have the time to research solutions.