Green Living Without Bottled Water

  • If you live in the USA or any other developed country, the water coming into your home is almost certainly safe to drink. Yet, it is amazing how many people drink bottled water-at considerable additional expense-when their tap water is available for almost no additional cost at all.

    Think about how non-green bottled water is.

    The sport glass bottles that contain the water are usually made out of plastic, which in almost every case is produced from materials derived from petroleum. Petroleum is not a renewable resource.

    Energy is required to produce the bottles, process the water that goes into them, and fill the bottles.

    Energy is required to ship the bottled water to the store or purchasing point.

    Energy is required to and from the store to purchase the bottled water and bring it home.

    Bottled water is also expensive relative to tap water-a lot more expensive.

    And here is another horrifying fact: most of the plastic bottles do not get recycled. Recent estimates are that about 80% of those plastic-glass tumbler wind up in landfills.

    Given the fact that water sold in plastic bottles is so environmentally unfriendly, what are your options for avoiding bottled water? The first, and most obvious is to drink tap water. It is almost certainly safe if you live in any developed country. The only reason not to drink the water from your tap is that you dislike the taste. If the taste of your tap water is a problem for you, try using one of many filtration products. Brita filters, for example, fit right onto the faucet and filer the water as it comes out, often removing any trace impurities that may contribute to bad taste.

    To take water with you in the car or to keep on your desk at work, strainer glass bottles can be re-filled and reused to reduce the problem of waste accumulation.

    Another option is a whole house water treatment system. Here you have a lot of options, but the best alternative is a water treatment system that uses activated charcoal in the filtration. Such a system will remove trace impurities and improve the taste of your water significantly. You can choose to add a water softener as well if the water in your area is "hard," meaning it is high in minerals such as calcium and magnesium that cause scale on the fixtures, soap scum, and reduce the effectiveness of all cleaning products. If you do, be aware that there will be an up front and maintenance cost and other trade-offs. You will need both an ion exchange system for the water coming into your home and a reverse osmosis filtration system for your drinking water. The ion exchanger that removes the minerals that make water "hard" requires recharging with standard salt-sodium chloride-and this recharging uses additional water vacuum food flask. The brine discharge from the ion exchanger goes into the local waste water for treatment, resulting in some environmental cost as well. The benefit is a dramatically reduced requirement for soap, shampoo, and washing detergents for both clothes and dishes and the elimination of scale on faucets and shower heads.

    Living a green lifestyle should include avoiding the use of bottled water. By using tap water, filtered or treated as necessary, you will save energy, reduce waste, and save money as well.