Are Water Bottles Worth It?


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Early high school was when my addiction to Starbucks' frappuccinos began.  During high school, I did satisfy my craving for Starbucks at least once a week.  Upon arriving at Penn State this semester, I have continued to purchase from Starbucks and other local coffee shops but I am also drinking more sugary drinks than I was while in high school.  The entries about sugary drinks have been a sort of wake-up call for me, and I have since been focusing on replacing sugary drinks with water as often as I can.

My recent concentration on avoiding sugary drinks has got me thinking about the different "qualities" of water.  Growing up, my mom would never spend money on water bottles.  She didn't believe that the water in the bottle was any different than the water that she paid to have available at our sinks.  

An article from Fox News, titled Bottled Waters Vs. Tap: Pick One to Stay Hydrated, featured an explanation from Lou Savant, president of Kiwaii True Spring Water, "'Bottled water is tested to the same standards as tap water.  Reporting regulations are different, but that does not mean that bottled water is less regulated when it comes to standards.'"  The article made a point to explain that if a water bottle company is claiming that their water is "natural," they must provide proof that it does not simply come from the surface.

Alright, so maybe the water in water bottles IS different than the water that comes from our sink.  But how noticeable is this difference?  From what I have found, bottled water tastes better because we expect it to taste better; it's all based on psychology.  In most blind taste tests, individuals are unable to tell whether the water comes from the tap or from a bottle.  The article Why Does Bottled Water Taste Better? from PsychCentral.com shared a test from Penn & Teller: Bullshit that revealed that "75 percent of New Yorkers preferred city tap water to bottled waters."  The show hosts also conducted their own test in an upscale restaurant in Southern California to determine just how easily people could be convinced that it was necessary to pay high prices for what was actually just tap water:
  

So far, I have determined that bottled water is different from tap water, but is not different enough to be detected by our taste buds.  The final piece, then, is determining whether or not one is healthier than the other.  An article from ABC News, Study: Bottled Water No Safer Than Tap Water, claims that the lack of regulations on bottled water is to blame for it's lack of nutrients.  This, however, entirely contradicts the argument made in the first article that I referenced, which defended bottled water companies based on the fact that there are so many regulations in place for bottled water production.  Overall, there are more articles supporting the argument that bottled water is not any safer than tap water.  Nonetheless, there is still a lack of solid evidence for this claim.

The value of bottled water will continue to be a source of controversy as long as people are making money from producing it.  After doing this research, I have become convinced that bottled water isn't worth the cost.  I will continue to drink water instead of soda for my health's sake, and for my wallet's sake, I will drink tap water instead of bottled.  

2 Comments

When ever my parents go to the store they always buy huge cases of water for my sister. She drink about half and then throws them away for some reason. I'm not sure about how the water is in some places but I know that at least here the bottled water is probably as pure if not less pure then the water that we have here. At home it is the same way. Actually at home they add flouride to the water so it is actually better for you and your body.

Drinking bottled water is definitely more expensive and leaves more of a mess then you would have to spend if you were to drink tap water. I'm not a tree hugger but I found this website pretty eye opening.

While I'm sure there are some brands of bottled water that may be somehow more "pure" or beneficial to you than tap water, overall I don't really see much of an outstanding benefit. While some tap water may have a weird taste or could even have a balance of chemicals that are unsafe to drink, I think a filtering pitcher could easily solve at least the taste problem. The tap water in my apartment doesn't taste so great right out of the sink, but we run it through a Brita pitcher and it tastes fine. I've always wondered how these filters work. How does running water through a bunch of little black dots make it taste better? Turns out it's a two step process. Fist the water tuns through a sheet of carbon, which sucks out as many impurities as possible. The remaining ions travel through the rest of the filter becoming neutralized, and you're left with great tasting water!

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