Bottled water is clean and healthy – or so their producers would have you believe!!!. After all, marketers tirelessly bombard us with picturesque images of flowing alpine springs, pristine, ice-capped mountaintops and thin, attractive models downing a litre just before biking to the Pilates studio.

Make no mistake about it. Bottled water is big business, with worldwide sales projected to be between $50 and $100 billion a year. But is bottled H2O really any purer than ordinary tap water filtered in your home? Well, considering that many top brands are actually just filtered tap water, it’s safe to say that bottled water is often times more pure hype than pure water.

The truth is, bottle waters are usually overpriced, sometimes unsanitary, and always damaging to the environment.

Plastic Chemicals: Most small 450 ml to 600ml bottled waters are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which can leach harmful plastic chemicals and hormone disruptors into the water. Larger bottled waters don’t fare any better. In 2000, Consumer Reports found that 8 out of 10 large 15 Litre jugs they tested left the dangerous endocrine disruptor biphenyl A (BPA) in the water. BPA has been linked to breast cancer, prostate cancer and diabetes as well as reproductive development disorders.

Worse yet, plastic leaching increases with age and heat so storing bottled water in your garage is a big No-No!

Harmful Bacteria: How would you like to drink a nice colony of bacteria after your morning workout? When the NRDC (National Resources Defence Council) tested more than 1,000 water bottles, including 103 bottled water brands, the organization found that 1/3 of the brands contained arsenic, bacteria and synthetic organics exceeding allowable limits.

And the NRDC isn’t alone. Canada’s C-crest Laboratories, a pharmaceutical testing company in Montreal, found that 70% of the dozen bottled water brands it tested had high levels of heterotrophic bacteria, which can be pathogenic and cause infectious diseases like E. coli. The United States Pharmacopoeia says the heterotrophic bacteria in drinking water should not exceed 500 colony-forming units (CFUs) per millilitre, yet the highest recorded level from the sample was 80,000 CFUs per millilitre.

Poor Quality: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has strict guidelines for tap water but does not oversee bottled water. Instead, bottled water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which has weaker regulations and applies the EPA’s rules only selectively to bottled water. The truth is, bottled water taste and quality can range from very good to very bad depending on the brand, and that is a serious problem for the industry. Unfortunately, like a box of chocolate, you never know what you will get.

Too Expensive: Bottled water can cost 500 to 3,000 times more than tap water. So, if you buy a 600ml name brand for $1 then that works out to 5 cents for 30ml, whereas municipal water costs about 1 cent per 4000ml. Since most bottled water is simply just filtered tap water, it makes much more sense to just purchase a water filter and purify your water at home. Adding a quality water filtration system will only increase that costs up to about 2-3 cents per 4000ml and it will give you clean water that tastes just as good but at a much lower cost.

Do you really want to pay that much for something that literally falls from the sky?

Environmentally Unfriendly: Our addiction to drinking bottled water contributes greatly to global pollution. Despite well-intentioned recycling campaigns, 85% of PET bottles are either thrown away, tumbling around as litter, or ebbing in the ocean, posing a threat to marine life that sometimes mistakes the garbage for food. In 2006 the production of bottled water used the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil, releasing more than 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide.

What can you do? Switch your plastic water bottle for a BPA-free stainless steel or aluminium water bottle. And fill it up with filtered water, which has a more consistent, fresh and pleasant taste when compared with stale bottled water with a hint of plastic.

Alternatives to Bottled Water

Tap Water: Because municipal water systems fall under the jurisdiction of the EPA, tap water is regularly tested for bacteria and toxins. However toxic chemicals like chlorine, chloramines and fluoride are routinely added to tap water and water contamination can occur at a thousand different entry points during the trip from the water plant to your home. This is why every family should seriously consider installing a water purification system in their home for drinking water.

Home Water Purification: Reverse osmosis systems are a great water purification choice because they can produce an unlimited amount of ultra-pure drinking water from the comfort of your own home. Reverse osmosis removes up to 99% of organics, chemicals, heavy metals, bacteria and radioactive pollution to produce fresh delicious drinking water at a fraction of the price of bottled water. So bottle your water at home with a reverse osmosis filter to protect the money in your pocket, the health of your family, and the beauty of our environment.