Tap Water or Bottled Water: Which is Better?


Image credit: Robert McLassus

As a dedicated Treehugger you knew it, but…in case you needed more proof:

"A direct comparison of drinking water from the tap with unrefrigerated bottled water shows an environmental impact of tap water which is less than one percent of that of bottled water. Even when refrigerated and carbonated, the environmental impact of tap water is approximately only one fourth of that of bottled water. Thus, from an environmental point of view, tap water is preferable to bottled water as a beverage."
People have an obsession with bottled water. Somehow, somewhere, somebody decided that tap water was no longer acceptable and along came the paranoia, the bottled water and the oceans full of trash and empty plastic bottles.

Some of us choose to continue to drink tap water while others use filtered jugs and tap filters, either way by choosing not to drink bottled water you are making a huge difference to the Earth. This life cycle analysis shows that tap water has less than one percent of the impacts of bottled water! That’s astonishing and all the more reason to let go of the bottled water and go back to the tap.

I know, I know that not all tap water tastes the same. Here in Barcelona the taste of pure tap water is not very yummy, so we use a water filter at home which takes most of the bad taste out. And really, we have gotten used to it.

What is even more frustrating is that in restaurants (unlike in the United States) there is no option for tap water in restaurants. You don't get a free glass of water here. Your only option is bottled water. This just promotes the bottled water phenomenon. What did we do before bottled water? Has the taste gotten worse or do we just notice more? Tell us if you think your tap water tastes worse than it did when you were growing up or if you think it's psychological?

The summary of the life cycle analysis of tap water versus bottled water that was commissioned by the Swiss Gas and Water Association is available online. The study considers the life cycle impacts of different variants including carbonated vs. non-carbonated and refrigerated vs. unrefrigerated.

More on Bottled Water and its Impacts:
Pablo Calculates the True Cost of Bottled Water.
::A World of Reasons to Ditch Bottled Water.
Bottled Water Drinkers are the New Smokers.
The Ethics of Bottled Water.
Bottled Water: What a Waste.

Tags: Bottled Water | Drinking Water | Environmental Footprint | Life Cycle Analysis