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Bottled water vs tap water

Is bottled water better than tap water? Bottled water is possibly one of the greatest marketing tricks of the past century. Ads tell us that their water is healthier, tastes better, and other more than questionable benefits. Thanks to advertising we do not know if whether to buy spring water, mineral water or plain bottled drinking water.

How Does The Manipulation Work?

The market for tap water and bottled water will compete great world lobbies with important economic interests. This often ends up in a disinformation war for the citizens, who no longer know what is true and what is a lie. In addition, we have to consider the bottled water environmental impact.

It is a contradiction that the largest consumers of bottled water are countries with access to quality drinking water. These consumers do not trust tap water, although there is no justification for it.

One reason could be the taste of tap water in some areas. But this argument is unacceptable if we take into account the high economic and environmental cost of bottled water. Furthermore, some blind tasting studies show that in most cases, we cannot tell the difference between the taste of tap water and bottled water.

Sometimes the “bad” taste of tap water in some areas is due to the land’s geology. Water passes through different layers before being treated, such as gypsiferous and saline soils, as well as hardness or chlorination. This flavor should never be associated with a health hazard. Drinking water is subject to strong regulations and controls. It never exceeds the safety levels established by world organizations such as the EU or the World Health Organization (WHO). Drinking water is one of the most controlled food products.

Bottled water pollution and plastics

If taste is the biggest enemy of tap water, pollution is the biggest enemy of bottled water. We are not aware of the amount of plastic generated worldwide. A significant part of it is due to bottled water. We might think that recycling plastic is enough, but plastic cannot be recycled indefinitely (unlike glass or aluminum). We also must remember that recycling consumes energy and pollutes. For this reason, the ideal scenario is to reduce the use of plastic to a minimum.

The largest consumers of bottled water are countries with the good fortune to have guaranteed access to drinking water

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The Vast Pollution of Plastic Manufacturing

What’s the environmental impact? The manufacture of a plastic bottle consumes petroleum (as raw material and energy) as well as other fossil fuels, but it also consumes water (between .26 to .52 gallons per container). At the end of the line, we must take into account the resources consumed for transportation and distribution.

On the other hand, we do not value the enormous transport capacity of tap water distribution network, which transports tons of water with minimal energy consumption.


Tap Water

The price of bottled water is another downside. However, many consumers don’t mind paying much more for bottled water than tap water. The cost of bottled water may seem low, but it can reach several hundred dollars a year for an average family. Curiously, a liter of gasoline before taxes is cheaper than 0.26 gallons of some bottled waters.

Speaking of taxes, the question is if bottled water (and in general all plastic packaging) should be taxed with the well-known carbon tax. Many countries are already applying this tax on other consumer goods.

Ultimately, tap water and bottled water may turn out to be another of our world’s great rivalries, like—Mac or PC? Maradona or Pele? Ketchup or mayo? Unfortunately, a good bottled water marketing campaign can be more reliable than the best scientist in the world.


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