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Shopping Tips for Bottled Water

The issues:

Is buying bottled water worth the environmental impact? Educate yourself with the following bottled water facts:

  • When it comes time to dispose of empty bottles, only about 25% are recycled, and the rest end up in our landfills. As a result, bottled water creates a large solid waste management burden.
  • While consumers may believe that bottled water is “safer” than tap water, this is a misconception: the quality of municipal tap water is actually regulated more tightly than bottled water. Some brands of bottled water even use municipal tap water as their source and subject it to minor treatment before bottling.
  • Tap water is roughly 750-2,700 times less expensive than bottled water on a per-gallon basis, for what is often an equivalent or better product
  • The energy cost of producing bottled water (taking into account manufacture, transport, and refrigeration) is more than 1,000 times the energy cost of producing tap water.
  • Groundwater extraction sites can take a toll on local communities and the surrounding environment.

What to look for:

If you must buy bottled water for one-time use, make sure that it comes from a nearby source and is packaged in lightweight containers. Water transported over long distances has a large energy and carbon footprint. Heavy packaging materials like glass have larger transportation impacts than light-weight packaging. As always, be sure to recycle the container after use.

GoodGuide Recommendation:

  • Avoid purchasing bottled water and drink regular tap water from reusable water bottles.
  • Select reusable bottles that are made of BPA-free plastic, aluminum or stainless steel.
  • If you would like extra assurance that your water contains few impurities, use a filter in your kitchen. Look for appropriate filters for your kitchen’s faucets or filtering containers such as Brita® or PUR® systems. To get a report on the quality of your community’s tap water, visit the Environmental Protection Agency website

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