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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

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Is bottled water really better for you?  |   Organic Living

Last week we talked all about water filters, but did you know that when you buy a bottle of water, you may be paying a 1900% markup? Did you know your $1.49 bottle of water may originate from tap water? How do you know if you’re paying for purified tap water or water bottled from a spring? Today, we’re going to figure out exactly what we’re getting when we purchase a bottled water and how to get pure spring water for FREE!

water bottle 1

Reading the Label: What are You Buying?

Let’s get some nomenclature cleared up here, because “bottled water” can mean many different things.

Type of Water

Description

Example

Artesian Water

Water from a confined aquifer (groundwater flowing within layers of underground rock). The aquifer as tapped the water is bottled directly from the source.

Fiji Water

Mineral Water

Comes from a natural spring and has a consistent, naturally-occurring mineral level (at least 250 ppm total dissolved solids). No additional minerals may be added to mineral water.

Perrier, Volvic

Purified Water

Water that is purified by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis or other processes. May be called “demineralized water,” “deionized water,” “distilled water,” and “reverse osmosis water,” depending on the purification method.

Dasani, SmartWater, Aquafina

Sparkling Water

Mineral water that naturally contains some effervescence from carbon dioxide. It may be carbonated during bottling to replace any carbon dioxide lost during collection.

Perrier

Spring Water

Water from an underground water source that naturally flows to the surface of the earth at a specific location. Spring water may be collected at the spring site or through a bore hole tapping the underground water.

Evian, Deer Park

Source: FDA.gov

Bottled Water Regulations are Less Strict Than Tap Water

Since bottled water is considered a food product, the FDA regulates the industry, whereas your tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Like tap water, there are enforceable levels for various contaminants in bottled water including arsenic, lead, and bacteria to name a few.

Public water systems are required to test samples daily (sometimes multiples times per day). Bottled water manufacturers, however, may only be required to test contaminant levels monthly, yearly, or as little as every four years (depending on the contaminant).

The bottle-filling equipment only has to be tested for bacterial contamination once every three months.

One study in the UK found that about 12% of food poisoning cases may be caused by bottled water, ranking just behind salad (21%) and chicken (31%).

Purified Water’s Source?

water bottle 2The FDA has defined the differences between types of bottled water (purified, spring, mineral, etc.), but those titles don’t always tell you about the source of your water. Mineral water, spring water, and artesian water all have a defined source, but purified water is a different story. Take Dasani water, for example. Before being purified, Dasani comes from the public water supply. It is then purified through reverse osmosis to remove contaminants (including fluoride), and finally Dasani adds a “special blend of minerals” for flavor. Aquafina water is manufactured in a similar way.

The good news? Purified water is cleaner than tap water. Depending on the brand’s process, purified water will also be free of chlorine and fluoride. It will also have met both the EPA’s and FDA’s regulations.

The bad news? Not every manufacturer is transparent about their sources or purification methods. Dasani provided some basic info on their website, and Aquafina provided a lot more useful details. Look up your bottled water brand to see if the company is open or elusive. Personally, I like transparency. If I can’t easily find details about the source or purification methods, I probably wouldn’t choose that brand. What are your thoughts?

Spring, Aquifer, and Mineral Waters

Unlike purified water, these waters come from natural sources (not the public water system). Remember back to third grade science class? The water cycle? Water begins its journey as rain or snow on the surface of the earth, seeps down into the earth, slowly passes through layers of rock, and becomes groundwater. This groundwater then gets collected as spring or artesian water (depending on the source/method). The water never has to be treated or purified and has some naturally-occurring minerals. Manufacturers are required to test the water for contaminants and must stay within the specified limits. Sources vary from domestic springs that may be in your own state to exotic water sources from thousands of miles away.

Check your label to learn about the source of your spring water. I had a gallon bottle of 365 Spring Water on hand that I recently bought from Whole Foods ($0.99). The label says it was bottled at the CG (Crystal Geyser) Roxane Spring source in Salem, SC 29676.

water bottle 3About 4,200 miles away, Evian spring water is collected in France. Just like the spring water from South Carolina, Evian water begins as snow in the Alps and filters through layers of rock (for about fifteen years) before bubbling up in the spring at Evian-Les-Bains. You can buy Evian water for about $0.118 per ounce, or $15.10 per gallon. Know what you’re buying. If you prefer water from the Alps, go for it. If you just want spring water, then you can probably save a lot of money!

(Like the idea of pure, spring water? Buying it at the store is convenient, but how would you like to get it for FREE? See details below!)

Benefits of Bottled Water

Remember Y2K? Who had a stash of bottled water on hand? You should have a stash on hand now. Bottled water is the top recommendation in any disaster preparedness kit. In the event of a disaster, the water system may become damaged or compromised. Having clean drinking water on hand is crucial. The CDC recommends 1 gallon per person per day and a minimum 3-day supply on hand. A family of four should keep about 12 gallons of drinking water on hand.

Drawbacks of Bottled Water: The Cost

Average cost of one bottle of water in the US: $1.49

-Consumers in the US are spending about $11.8 billion per year on bottled water.

-30 billion bottles of water are sold every year (worldwide).

-In the US, we average 167 bottles of water per person per year.

-If tap water were priced the same as bottled water, your monthly water bill would average $9,000.

Drawbacks of Bottled Water: The Bottle

-30 billion bottles of water per year is a LOT of plastic.

-The recycle rate for bottled water is about 38% (2011).

-About 18.6 billion water bottles end up in landfills every year.

-Although many bottles are now BPA-free, there are still other chemicals in the plastic which may leach into your water.

-Plastic-phobic? Non-plastic alternatives include glass bottles and (recently) boxed water.

water bottle 4

Buying Bottled Water

I don’t know about you, but I get close to that average of 167 bottles per year (but I do recycle WAY more than 38%). I don’t drink soda, so when I’m on the go, bottled water is my #1 choice. I’m not picky or brand loyal, just thirsty. When you need to buy a bottle of water on the go, here are a few tips to point you in the right direction:

Check the label for a water source. Is it from a spring? Aquifer? Public water source (P.W.S.)? If the label doesn’t specify the source, consider another brand. Personally, if a brand can’t bother to tell me what I’m buying, my money is going to someone else who will.

Is it purified? How? If I’m buying “purified” water, I like to know how it has been purified.

Check for additives. Some waters add extra minerals for flavor. Know what you’re buying. [Side note: “Flavored water beverages” are a totally different story, adding synthetic flavorings and sometimes artificial sweeteners. If you want a flavored water, consider adding some tea or fruits for an all-natural option.]

Compare prices. Most grocery stores will post the cost per ounce on the price sheet. (If they don’t, whip out your handy dandy smartphone and divide cost by number of ounces. $1.49/20 = $0.0745 per ounce) One gallon = 128 ounces. Buying larger volumes of water will be more cost-effective.

Do some homework. Take some time to research the brands you often buy. Check their source, treatment methods, and bulk purchasing options.

Purified Water for Less

Another eco-friendly and budget-friendly option is using the refillable water stations in grocery stores. At my local Whole Foods, you can bring in your own container (or buy one there) and fill ‘er up with either reverse osmosis or distilled purified water, just $0.39 per gallon. Does your local grocery store have a water filling station? Where else have you seen one?

FREE Spring Water!

Here’s the coolest thing I’ve learned all year: there are hundreds of free (or donation-based) natural springs all across the country. (Mountainous regions will have more springs, and the midwest is sadly out of luck.) The same spring water you buy in the store may be available totally free right down the road. How do you find a natural spring?

water bottle 5Check out www.findaspring.com to see what’s near you. My closest spring is about 30 minutes away (about the same distance as Whole Foods) and is totally free. You can bring your own containers and fill them up to your heart’s content. I haven’t tried this yet, but it is definitely going to be an outing with the kids this summer. A science lesson and free water all in one. Have you visited a local spring? Any tips to share before we try this out?

Perspective

Here’s the thing. Tap water really isn’t that bad, but it does have some extra chemicals in it that you might not want in your body. Home filtration will go a good job of cleaning your water and is the best option considering environmental impact and long-term cost. However, bottled water is an essential part of a home’s emergency preparedness kit, and it is also a convenient option for clean water on the go.

Best Plan: Invest in a good water filtration system at home. Fill up reuseable water bottles before you leave the house. Keep some clean, empty reusable bottles in your car to fill up as needed. [With the amount of water bottles I end up buying my kids while we’re out and about, I could probably save $20+/month if I made this a habit!) If you buy a water bottle on the go, do your best to get that bottle recycled. If you don’t already recycle at home, check with your trash service. We were able to add recycling pick-up for free!

This is part of an Organic Living Journey Guest Post Series now written by Mariana who has a mother’s heart and scientist’s brain.

    • Lana

      The thing that I hate about bottled water is that the kids take 2 sips out of it and then it is rolling around on the floor of the vehicle with all of the other bottles that no one will claim. My kids are grown and my adult children STILL do this! Aldi is the cheapest source of purified bottled water at 2.29 for a 24 pack. We always keep 6 in the garage because we are on a well and a power outage means no water.

      • Sara

        My kids kept doing that… so now the rule is when you open a water bottle put your initial on the lid. I keep a small mini permanent marker available just for this. :)

        • Florida girl

          Zepherhills is our choice and its less than sourced less than two hours away from me.

      • Karl

        I use the partial bottles for making coffee. I figure that the germs are killed in the coffee making process.

    • Emily

      I use tap water and Camelbak water bottles. Why buy bottled water?

    • pdnr

      I use Tupperware plastic glasses with lids that are still in good condition after several decades of daily use. They are in different colors so everyone can identify their own glass. I fill them up with filtered water before we leave home. I also keep one by my bed at night and use one throughout the day. You can throw them around and water will never spill out.