Thursday, September 17, 2009

Oil and Water Don’t Mix

Tap water or bottled water? Is there a difference? Well, bottled water is convenient, easy to carry around and shows you are a health-conscious person. You also have to pay for it, and the trendy plastic container. Depending on how much water you drink, it can run you several hundred dollars a year—or more. On the other hand, you have tap water. Tap water is kind of boring, and you have to use a glass to drink it, then you have to wash the glass. It’s also free and has passed strict national, state and local quality guidelines.

If you choose Coca-Cola’s Dasani or Pepsi’s Aquafina water you get tap water with minerals added in—water from the bottling plant’s municipal water source. So, other than the cost and the fact that you’re really drinking tap water with a fancy name is there a downside to drinking bottled water? Actually—maybe.

The well-known environmental group, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) tested 1,000 bottles of water over a 4-year period. They found that 22 percent of the brands tested contained, in at least one sample, chemical contaminants at levels above state health limits.

And then there’s the water / oil connection.

Most plastic water bottles are made with polyethylene terepthalate (PET). To make PET, you need oil. About 17 million barrels of oil a year are used to make those disposable water bottles. And, research from the Container Recycling Institute shows that about 86 percent of the 30 billion PET water bottles sold every year end up in the trash, taking somewhere between 400 and 1,000 years to degrade.

So back to the original question—it seems as if there are actually some big differences between drinking bottled and tap water—other than the fact that a lot of the water itself is pretty much the same. My take: I’m happy washing the glass.

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