Thursday, October 15, 2009

Water – bottled or tap?

Clients ask whether they should drink bottled or tap water.

At the health club, fitness enthusiasts show me their bottled water with a smile.

In offices, people take their bottled water out of their drawers to show me they have it handy.

They want me to congratulate them on their healthy habits. I answer by going to the tap and pouring myself a glass of water.

The 8 cups water/day myth has been debunked over and over; so drinking all day is not necessary anymore. I could never do that anyway.

Tap water is fine, and it’s better for the environment. Anyway, why pay for bottled? Here are my thoughts, which you can ponder before making your decision:

1. Tap water is best for the environment. Millions of tons of plastic are used to bottle water every year, you are adding to the heap.
2. When plastic bottles are manufactured, toxic chemicals and gases are released into the environment. You are adding to this.
3. Drink tap water at home. Use a filter if you want to remove the chlorine taste. I once decided to keep water bottled in a cute, small plastic container overnight on my bed stand. In the morning, the water tasted like plastic. I returned to tap.
4. If you don’t like the taste of chlorine in your water and you don’t have a water filter, pour water into a tray and let stand for a few hours. The chlorine will evaporate.
5. In restaurants, choose tap water and don’t feel like a cheapskate. I usually do. Ask for a lemon or lime if you want added flavor.
6. If you like sparkling water, order and pay the price. I sometimes do.
7. Europeans prefer the taste of bottled water. It tastes better than their tap water. They are correct.
8. North Americans drink bottled water because they believe it is safer. That is not correct.
9. More than half the bottled water sold is actually filtered or purified tap water, with a fabulous label.
10. Bottled water costs up to 1,000 times more than tap water. With such high profit margins, manufacturers are sprouting up everywhere.
11. Regulations for quality are tougher for tap water than bottled water.
12. If you buy bottled water, you are contributing to the fastest growing beverage industry in the world. More than 700 brands worldwide are now on the market.
13. Do not choose flavored water with supplements and promises – not worth the extra cost and you may actually believe the claims.
15. The main difference between some bottled water and tap water is that it is distributed in bottles rather than pipes.
16. Boiled or bottled water is the better option in developing countries due to poor purification methods.
17. If you drink bottled water, recycle.
18. Then there’s the fluoride issue:
a. Bottled water does not contain fluoride;
b. Fluoride can prevent, slow and reverse tooth decay. Water fluoridation is considered one of the 10 greatest public health milestones of the 20th century.
c. It is recommended that bottled water labels the fluoride content.
d. The fluoride recommendation is about one part per million in drinking water.
e. Fluoride supplements can lead to overuse, causing white lines and spots on teeth.
So it is still up to you. I say:

Tap water is still the best choice for most people, from health and environmental perspectives.

Choose bottled water if you like the taste.