The true cost of bottled water

Why should we be sustainable? I’m not just talking about the environmental benefits (though there are many), I am talking about health, finances, and well-being.
Sustainability offers a surprising amount of benefits, and there are more reasons to be sustainable than the environment. Being environmentally conscious often has many hidden benefits.

This is such a broad topic, I have decided to tackle one thing at a time. First on the list, bottled water.

water bottles

Those convenient packaged sized plastic containers filled with good old H2O.
They cost on average $2.75 a litre, some brands are more expensive, others are cheaper, but that is a solid average. Most people report buying at least one a day.

And why not? Bottled water is convenient, and most people don’t want to drink from public fountains. What if you are out and thirsty? Also, those reusable bottles are pricey, and people like their water to be pure and filtered. Most individuals know you can buy reusable bottles that filter water, but they are so expensive!

These are all reasonable comments. On the surface.

It is true the upfront cost of a reusable water bottle with a filter will set you back about $50, more if you want a particular colour, and those pesky filters have to be replaced every year! That’s another $30!
$80 is a lot of money. I agree, but you are already spending far more than that on bottled water yearly.

I can hear you scream at me in frustration. “Jess, you have to be joking, bottled water only costs $2.75.”

Yes, it does, $2.75 every day of the year.

Let’s do some quick math.
$2.75 x 365 (days in a year)= $1003.75
That’s just one bottle a day; most people drink more water than that… or at least they should.
An $80 reusable bottle and filter replacement, or $1003.75 for bottled water you have to go get every time you want one? I know which I would rather.

“Well, what if I buy those big bulk packs of water bottles from the supermarket and take them out with me?”

Those packets cost around $6 for 24 600ml bottles, and you have to go the shop and get them. Let’s say you use one of those packets a fortnight (and again, you really should be drinking more water than that).
$6 x 26 (fortnights in a year) = $156 a year.
It is still the more expensive option, and you have to go to the store at least every fortnight to buy a new one, instead of twice a year for the reusable bottles. Less if you buy your water filters in bulk.

“Okay, I can see it’s more expensive, but I drink bottled water because it is better for me as it doesn’t have fluoride, and it tastes better than tap water.”

Without Googling it, can you tell me what is so terrible about fluoride?
Do you actually know the reasons or did somebody mention it was bad for you once and you never really looked into it?
It is too easy to get caught up in the thoughts and opinions of others, and when somebody says something is unhealthy for us, we want to trust them.
After all, why would they say that if it wasn’t true?
Probably because someone told them fluoride was harmful to them, and suddenly we enter a vicious cycle.

Here are some facts about fluoride.

  • It is naturally occurring in certain rocks, and spring water and mineral water come from the ground. It is likely that they came into contact with those rocks and picked up some fluoride anyway.
  • Fluoride has numerous studies to show it is beneficial for tooth enamel and the data shows people who drink water with fluoride have fewer cavities and other dental issues.
  • Fluoride in high concentrations is dangerous to your health. But so is Take-out, alcohol, and Everything in high levels is terrible for us, and fluoride in water (particularly in Australia) is so heavily monitored, and the amounts are so small, they do not pose any health risk.

If you want to read more on fluoride, have a look at this interview with Dr. Okano  or have a look here at what the Australian, National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has to say about fluoride.

A lot of research has been conducted to ensure that fluoride is not only safe for the community but beneficial.

Moreover, tap water (in Australia) has to pass rigorous testing before it is approved for drinking. Bottled water is considered a food, and therefor isn’t privy to the same strict testing.

An Australian program, “War on Waste” conducted a series of tests on bottled water and compared them to regular tap water. The results are worse than you think.

The tests showed that many bottled waters actually have a similar acidity to soft drinks and coffee. Regular water is around 7.ph. Anything below 7ph is considered acidic. Here are the results.

Tapwater

Figure 1 sourced from ABC’s “War on Waste.”

The numbers in red wouldn’t pass Australia’s strict testing in regards to whether or not water was of drinkable quality.

Further testing revealed it is highly likely, “Natures best” is just filtered Australian tap water, the same water you would get from your reusable bottle, and you are paying a lot more for it.

As for Vitamins and minerals, tap water beat out almost every brand. Here are the results.

tap water health

Figure 2 sourced from ABC’s “War on Waste.”

So when you are buying bottled water, you are essentially paying more money for water that is bad for you, and not only is it terrible for you, you have to make time to go shopping and get it.

Remind me again, why aren’t we drinking filtered tap water from reusable bottles?

Not to mention the drastic effect water bottles have on the environment, here are some fun facts!

  • Water bottles are one of the most common types of garbage found in the ocean.
  • There is an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic in our oceans; water bottles make up a significant portion of that.
  • The world goes through a million plastic bottles a minute, and 91% of that is not recycled.
  • It takes 450 years for a plastic bottle to decompose, and in that time it will kill and injure marine animals and many more when it destroys ecosystems.
  • Plastic bottles don’t break up as a single unit, it very slowly breaks apart into millions of tiny pieces and ends up in the food chain, right down to the fish we eat and the salt we use. After all, salt is made from evaporating ocean water, if it has plastic in it, so does our salt.
  • Bottled water costs around 1000x more than tap water.
  • Often bottled water is worse for your health than tap water.

Well, hopefully, I am not the only one who finds that a depressing list. That is a lot of damage and destruction for something people use, on average, for about a day. 450 years of destruction for one afternoon’s bottle of water.

There is good news though!
If we move to reusable bottles, and some of them look pretty snazzy, we will save our health, our money, our time, and our environment.
That’s a lot of winning.
Splash out with that saved bottle water money (see what I did there) and buy yourself a reusable water container you can be proud of; seriously, the options are endless.

Go get yourself that reusable water bottle and puff your chest up with pride! Because YOU SAVED your health, your wallet, your time, and the environment!

 

You can learn more tips and tricks like this in my upcoming book. sustainability book cover (1)

 

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close