Bottled Water vs. Filtered Tap Water

Chances are that by now you know just how harmful bottled water is to the planet, and yet some people still find it difficult to give up those portable, easily purchased, calorie-free thirst-quenchers. Is it really so much better for the environment to drink filtered tap water than bottled water? And is it safe?

The answer to both of those questions is–you guessed it–a resounding yes. The impact of bottled water on the environment is monumental, wracking up environmental harm from the moment the plastic bottle is made and filled to the moment the used bottle is tossed in the trash. The process of making plastic water bottles sold in the United States alone uses approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil, according to the Earth Policy Institute–thatís enough to run 100,000 cars for an entire year. And that doesnít even take into account the inordinate amount of oil needed to transport water bottles all over the world–a bottle of Fiji water enjoyed in New York City, for example, would have traveled nearly 8,000 miles from Fiji to New York.

Adding insult to injury, most water bottles are consumed by people outside of the home, where finding a recycling bin can prove a daunting task. Nearly 80 percent of water bottles are not recycled, resulting in 38 billion water bottles clogging landfills each year where they take 700 years to even begin to decompose.

Still, bottled water is the fastest growing segment of the beverage industry, with Americans drinking an average of 167 bottles of water each year, totaling $16 billion in sales. Ironically, while the United States is the worldís single biggest consumer of bottled water, it has reliable tap water available nearly nationwide–thatís something that canít be said of Brazil, China, and Mexico, which round out the top four bottled water consuming countries in the world. Bottled water retailers are well aware of the quality of our nationís tap water–in fact, at least 24 percent of the bottled water we drink is actually filtered tap water. Pepsiís Aquafina and Cokeís Dasani, the top bottled water brands in the country, are two of the brands that bottle filtered municipal water.

So why are we paying for someone else to bottle our water when we could simply filter our own water at home? Bottled water must just taste better, right? It would appear not. Good Morning America conducted a blind taste test of water using its studio audience as guinea pigs and guess which water source was the clear winner? New York City tap water. Yes, thatís right: Tap water beat out Poland Spring and Evian.

Okay, so tap water tastes the same as bottled water and is far less harmful to the environment-but is it safe? It turns out federal standards are similar for both bottled water and municipal water, which is continually tested for contaminants. And for children, tap water is more than safeóitís beneficial: Unlike bottled water, most tap water contains teeth-strengthening fluoride. To learn about the purity of your local tap water, you can read the EPAís water-quality reports on the agencyís website. If youíre still concerned about trace levels of contaminants, investing in a good filter for your tap water is a great, inexpensive alternative to bottled water. Storing reusable bottles, such as aluminum Sigg bottles, filled with filtered tap water in the fridge makes it easy to grab a bottle of cold, pure water when youíre on the go.

Hereís the icing on the cake: Once you give up your bottled water habit, youíll find you have some welcome extra cash floating around your wallet. If each American drinks 167 bottles on average per year, and the average cost of water is $1 per bottle, thatís $167 extra dollars youíll have to put toward a relaxing day at the spa, new winter coat, or your favorite charity! Looking for donation inspiration? Check out Water Partners International, a nonprofit committed to providing safe drinking water and sanitation to people in developing countries.

For more information or to subscribe at the introductory price of $10 a year, go to Positively Green magazine launched in 2008 as a quarterly women’s magazine that covers 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.

By Meg Donohue, Positively Green magazine


Alex A
Alex A13 days ago

The caliber of information that you're offering is merely wonderful.

Jjulie P.
.28 days ago

Stupendous blog you guys have provided there, I will absolutely valuate your effort.

Jjulie P.
.28 days ago

I know this is quality based blogs along with other stuff.

John D.
John D.about a year ago

I bought a filtered water bottle ( to bring hiking with me, but after tasting the difference it makes to tap water I ended up buying one of their pitchers as well. Can't believe the amount of crap that ends up in our drinking water, either accidentally or on purpose!

Monica M.
Past Member 6 years ago

This truth makes me ill. Do you understand what kind of government we have. I can also believe that we buy hemp from other countries in disguise. God help us before the government kills us.

Gainesville Dentist

Salvador S.
Salvador S.6 years ago

There's an important point that was missing here, as oil and gas drilling chemicals get to public water sources and contaminate the water with deadly toxins, everybody should be aware about this and be careful.

Volcanic S.
Volcanic S.6 years ago

Volcanic Spring Water is pure "alkaline water" It activates and protect our whole body system. It is micro biologically wholesome; having been preserved intact because of the underground origin of the water, which has been protected from all risk of pollution. Its mineral content, calcium and magnesium is made by nature. These groundwater sources are inspected, tested and certified to be sanitary quality and free from surface water influence. The spring source is located within 59 hectares, 240 meters above sea level of approved, protected and monitored company-owned land. Bottled at the spring site.

Edgar B.
Edgar B.7 years ago

Many of the comments to this article are right on point about why we shouldn't promote adding "stuff" to the water we drink.

So, looking for ways to make sure our families, friends and neighbors have access to better sources of water means we must educate ourselves about what is in the water we drink, whether from a bottle we've purchased or the tap in the kitchen.

I equally agree that drinking from certain plastic containers is a problem for our landfills and the environment and means we should learn about avoiding plastics with BPAs in them.

To address this issue head on, my family, friends and neighbors, drink ionized alkaline water using the Enagic Leveluk SD501.

I've read most of the "Kangen Water Scam" sites out there and these folks like to use "negative marketing" to ultimately sell unsuspecting people their own brand of water ionizer.

I've commented on it here:

If you want to try this remarkable ionized water at no cost and without obligation, sign up free at

Kai J.
Kai J7 years ago

Hear hear Roxanne! Keep showing up the stupidity of the human race and we may yet win this war! This, by the way is not an arrogant statement but one based in fact. It is a fact that the article above was written by someone quite, quite stupid, although they may be nice; nice will get you killed everytime. A lot of 'nice' people believe in fighting wars. This makes them exceptionally stupid and dead. Apply this logic to every walk of life and you have it... 'Stupid Rules', and it is increasing by the year.
Now for anyone to actually believe that sticking crap in water is good for you... well I really don't know what to say, except it's your choice and not mine and I don't want it in my water, so wake up smell the propaganda! - Quote: "And for children, tap water is more than safe—it’s beneficial: Unlike bottled water, most tap water contains teeth-strengthening fluoride." FLUORIDE, my dear, IS A KNOWN POISON! I wouldn't feed it to a rat! Go and do some research - PLEASE!

Roxanne N.
Roxanne N7 years ago

This article has to be one of the silliest about the bottled water/tap water controversy. The author sounds like someone handed her a bunch of press releases, and she is spouting the greatest hits of each one.

She really lost me with the "cheerleader" endorsement of tap water because "not only does it taste good because its better for you." Apparently, she never did one iota of research on fluoridating water. There are reams of studies and articles about the downside of fluoridating tap water---apparently, she buys the propaganda about it being good for childrens teeth. Doesn't mention that adults and everyone is forced to drink it as well.

And her silly sweeping remark about taste. So Good Morning America did a taste test with NYC water, which is about the best in the nation. Although, having grown up in NYC, taste does vary depending on where you live. However, because a few people said that NYCt water taste was the same as bottled water, she makes the sweeping remark that "so tap water tastes the same as bottled water."

Plus, as far as that "scientific study" of taste, people often get used to the taste of something. If many of the people in the studio audience drink primarily tap water, they may find that it taste better than something new, like Evian, which does have a strong taste of minerals.

Anyway, totally ridiculous and unresearched article. Shame on Care2 for printing nonsense.