Updated on 07.31.07

Now That Aquafina Is Actually Labeled As Tap Water, Maybe We Can Look For Another Solution To The Bottled Water Issue

Trent Hamm

Last night when my wife and I were shopping at Sam’s Club, I witnessed a lady putting a large package of individual bottles of Aquafina into her shopping cart. My wife knew that would get my hackles up, so she got us out of the way and out of earshot so I could rant, which I will recycle for you all now:

Aquafina is tap water, as are many other bottled waters. The liquid inside is basically the same thing you get from your tap in the kitchen.

It’s a lot of plastic, which just fills up a landfill Twenty four plastic bottles, plus the plastic shrinkwrap around the case, means that the environment is getting hammered.

It’s expensive If you pay more than a nickel a bottle, you’re getting ripped off when buying bottled water. There’s simply no reason to pay more.

I won’t even get into the pretentious aesthetics of many bottled water drinkers, who tend to glare at anyone who is not also drinking bottled water as though they’re doing something wrong (trust me, I’ve received glares).

My wife, playing the devil’s advocate (which she does so well), responded with the justification that it’s getting people to drink water instead of high-fructose drinks. To which I respond that it still doesn’t justify the cost.

Here’s my advice to the lady buying the Aquafina – this will not only save you a lot of money, but it’ll save the environment as well.

When you finish a bottle of the water, don’t throw it away. Instead, wash it and save it in the cardboard tray that it came in. If you put the entire case in the fridge, then put them in there without the box and stack the bottles in the box; if you just put in a few bottles at a time, swap the empty bottles for full ones to stock the fridge.

When you’ve finished the case, refill them out of the tap. Do the entire case at once and sit them back in the fridge. If you only put in a handful at a time out of the case, fill them as you stock the fridge.

Guess what? You can keep doing this over and over and over again, because the bottles are food safe and the content is the same: tap water. Each time you reuse a bottle in this way, you’re saving a little pile of change that you’re not spending buying these bottles, plus you’re saving space in the landfill.

If you drink bottled water regularly, please consider giving this a shot – it saves money and saves the environment, too.

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  1. joanE says:

    if it is tap water, why does it taste so different?
    our tap water tastes so strongly of chlorine, that it is pretty nasty.
    i tried to click to your explanatory aquafina link but it gave an error message…

  2. Teggy says:

    My wife and I are guilty of this, but I agree with the first comment – not everyone is blessed with great tap water. In my neighborhood they will occasionally do work on the street or fire hydrants and we will get brown water flowing out of our taps (this happened this week, in fact, and we got a warning from the town about it). Makes me wonder what might be in the water at any given time. There is a level of convenience and peace of mind that comes with bottled water (and we tend to get Poland Spring, which is not tap water).

    A good compromise would probably be to use a Brita, which I am likely going to start doing.

  3. Josh says:

    How does it fill up landfills when we recycle the bottles?

  4. Tiffany says:

    I have a really great water jug that fits on the stand like any other, but it has a filter inside. I love it so much and never buy bottled water anymore!

    This is a link – I hope it works:

  5. I found that Aquafina story to be along the lines of what I’d suspected for years. I boil my tap water to ensure most of the unwanted stuff is out.

  6. John says:

    At least it is filtered tap water, which is why it tastes better and is better than some (not all) places tap water supply.

    OTOH, it is cheaper to buy a Pur or Brita filter and get the same results without the concerns about waste…

  7. Citoahc says:

    I’ve been doing this a work for a year or so and am on the 4th case even though I drink 2-3 bottles a day.

    Make sure that you either clean the bottles with some bleach or recycle them after 5-10 refills. Bad things can grow in stagnant water.

  8. Celeste says:

    The stupid thing is, a lot of the bottles that drinks such as Gatorade and Aquafina come in have warnings on them NOT to reuse.

  9. Justin says:

    @joanE: Tap water tastes different depending on your municipality and the state of the delivery pipes. It’s certainly possible that your tap water doesn’t taste as good as Aquafina’s, in which case there is a reasonable advantage to drinking bottled. However, IMHO, a better solution than resorting to bottled is installing an on-tap filter, which will cost much less — and be more environmentally friendly — than bottled water.

    @Josh: First, not all bottles are recycled. Second, “recycle” is merely the last resort after the all-important “reduce” and “reuse”. Stop using bottles, and you don’t even have to spend energy on recycling.

  10. !wanda says:

    @joanE: Different municipalities have different water qualities. Our tap water, here in SF, is just fine, and NYC tap water tastes really good. Maybe you need to filter your water?

    @Josh: It still takes more energy to make the bottles and recycle them than if they weren’t made in the first place because you’re drinking tap water.

  11. Modern Worker; All you’re doing by boiling is killing active bacteria. You’re not removing minerals, all unborn organisms or dormant bacteria in your water.

    I refill bottled-water bottles all the time, but find that after about six uses they have to be thrown away because they smell. I’m not sure if its the plastic breaking down or if its actually stuff growing in the bottle, but I sure as hell don’t like the taste.

    One thing that I like to do is snip off the tops and then use them as seedling planters. Just fill them up with soil, plant your seeds and within weeks you’ve got nice green plant-life coming something that would have ordinarily found itself in the landfill (there’s poor recycling here).

    Another trick is to fill the bottle halfway with water and then put it in your freezer. In the morning, when you’re going to work or class, just remove the bottle and top it off with tap water. Then you’ve got nice ice cold water all throughout your commute.

  12. Beth says:

    I live in AZ. Our tap water if NASTY. Like it has floaties and a weird smell.

    I personally don’t like the taste of Aquafina but if it’s that or tap water, I chose the Aquafina every time.

    Normally we buy the big bottles of the Costco water. Since we are in such an extreme climate in the summer, we drink a LOT of water. I feel better using the big bottles and we do recycle them when we’re done with them.

  13. sarah says:

    Better yet, get a nalgene bottle that you can throw in the dishwasher if you’re afraid that it’s going to spread funk after a while. Some bottles even have a freezable insert to keep your water cold.

  14. Monica says:

    Also, the bottles have to be transported to your city, which is a waste of energy when you have perfectly good water in your tap.

    I don’t reuse Aquafina type bottles though (I occasionally buy them when I am out and about getting hot and thirsty due to poor planning, maybe once every 6 months), because there may be health issues. I have been using a Nalgene bottle instead, but I am considering switching to a Sigg bottle or Klean Kanteen instead.

    I find tap water is just fine as long as it’s cold. So I fill a pitcher with tap water and stick in my fridge.

  15. Christopher says:

    I followed this path for about three months, and realized quickly that I was thoroughly wasting my time and effort refilling those hard to wash bottles. My solution was a reusable water bottle (camelbak, nalgene, or etc) and a Brita pitcher. That combined with the water cooler provided at work, evens out to a completely workable hydration plan that doesn’t taste like copper pipes and chlorine.

  16. Bill says:

    I knew there was a problem when my kids started talking about their preference for bottled spring water (this is a popular local brand, not from tap)

    I solved that by opening my mouth and letting them see what happens when one grows up (as I did) without the benefit fluoridated municipal water.

    Restorations (“fillings”) in almost every tooth.
    Thankfully, only one crown so far.

    We will be using our own sport bottles filled with municipal tap water from now on.

  17. Trent K. says:

    Yeah my family reuses water bottles. We may buy new bottles about once a year. My brother prefers drinking water out of bottle rather than out of a glass, so this way, we don’t have to buy new bottles and it’s convinent.

  18. Amanda says:

    I have a sister in law who was actually allergic to the tap water here (Provo). Apparently, filtering didn’t work, so she had no choice but to do bottled water.

  19. I’m reminded of Dr. Strangelove with all this fluoride talk, heh.

  20. Marcus Murphy says:

    I would rather drink RO tap water than plain tap water any day. But really I do neither. I paid (good money) for a custom water filtration system that has active carbon, reverse osmosis, de-ionization (2 stages), sediment filtration, and UV filtration; all of which removes the dissolved solids, bacteria, and chemicals to a total density solid (TDS) reading of less then .01 ppm (it fluctuates between 0 and .01, the smallest reading the meter can take) Then it passes through a coral calcium filter to reinfuse it with a natural balance of minerals at ~20 ppm.

    I know people will disclaim the fact that I think there are harmful substances in water. Fact is I’ve had my tap water tested by an independent lab, and they sent back the report saying that there were levels of substances that are not beneficial nor fit for human consumption.

    Yes we can drink this water and not get sick immediately. But that is like saying its ok to eat McDonalds 3 meals a day, it is perfectly healthy. And we all know it is not. If you think it is, watch Supersize Me. The guy clearly gets sick a few weeks into his sabbatical. Just like the chemicals in tap water can affect your health over time.

    People who try MY water tell me it is the best tasting water they have ever had, bar none. I even fill up a large 5 gallon container for some people for a small fee. Also, food (esp. pasta) cooks much better with my filtered water compared to tap. And it tastes better too.

    Just my 2 cents.

  21. CHRISTIAN says:


  22. Matilda says:

    I buy water bottles mostly because it’s so convenient. I’m on the go a lot and I like to have a water bottle with me all the time. The tap water at my house is actually very tasty so I will refill them but I only use them a few times before it ends up in the recycling bin. Aquafina goes through an intense purification process to ensure that it is clean and safe. That is what matters most to me – that the water I’m drinking has been purified. And with some sources you can’t always say that.

  23. paradoxymoron says:

    It’s actually a bad idea to continually reuse plastic bottles like aquafina or dasani. The plastic isn’t meant to lose and starts to degrade after a short while. You end up drinking plastic. Instead, just don’t buy bottled water and put your water in a Nalgene (among many other brands I’m sure) bottle that’s meant to last.

    THIS IS A CREATED NEED. I’m quite sure Pepsi and Coke (Aquafina and Dasani) spend more of their money on advertising (creating a need) than they do on “filtering”.

  24. paradoxymoron says:

    Oh, btw, a great test for anyone who uses brita. Take that little filter out of your jug and just fill it up as normal, unfiltered…and put it in the fridge like you always do. Three hours later, do a taste test. Surprise! It tastes fresh and clean! Just like cold water does.

    Everyone who has done this stops buying filters.

  25. Trent, I’m curious about your thoughts on the high-fructose drinks. I’m allergic to corn so I can’t have them anyway, but you mentioned it but didn’t go into things. Are you, too, concerned about some of the medical implications, or is it a calorie thing?

  26. EP says:

    Never recycle the bottles of thin plastic as they aren’t of a quality to keep bacteria from growing.

  27. You bring up some good points against bottled water; however, you failed to mention the most important reason to have some bottled water, emergencies. I think every family should have 1 case per person on hand. If you are struck with a flood or a hurricane, it may take days before you will be able to find clean drinking water. Refilling the bottles makes them unsuitable for long term storage as bacteria and other nasties can get in the bottle. The cases are fairly easy to store and are portable if you should be displaced.

  28. Elaine says:

    Skip reusing plastic water bottles — the plastic is made to be disposable, so over time the chemicals from the bottle can leak into what you’re drinking. Instead, purchase one or more durable water bottles made to be reused (I’m particular to my Nalgene bottles). If your local water tastes nasty, use a filter like Brita or Pur and refill your water bottle that way.

  29. Nicole says:

    The problem with recycling is just because you throw something in the recycle bin doesn’t mean that it is actually ever recycled. It takes so much energy and money and there are so many constraints on what types of products can use recycled content that there aren’t that many uses for recycled water bottles. What consumer is going to voluntarily spend 15-50% more for the same product.

    I guess the environmental and frugal lesson is to use indefinitely reusable products whenever possible and use “disposable” products as many times as possible before recycling.

    As to the social stigma of not drinking bottled water, I live in San Francisco where it is definitely acceptable to carry your own reusable water container – make it non-BPA leaching Stainless Steel to be really cool! Then again, we are a bunch of liberal hippies.

  30. feonixrift says:

    This assumes you trust your tap water as much as Detroit’s tap water or wherever it is Aquafina gets their stuff combined with whatever filtering they do it. Check the EPA data for your area if possible… Yes the standards are stricter for tap than for bottled, but they aren’t always met.

    Consider also whether you’re comfortable drinking something that may have plasticizers and other bottle-related chemicals dissolved in it in small quantities. When in doubt, filter! A good high quality tap filter will get you around a lot of these problems. But it isn’t just as simple as plastic waste.

    Also any water takes a while to get used to, if you travel a lot it may be worth while to be used to water that’s easy to pick up in a store just about anywhere in the country, rather than trying to adapt to the local variation.

  31. guinness416 says:

    The high-fructose drinks are the very definition of empty calories, Randy.

    I’m amused that you think you’ve received glares from bottled water drinkers. Bottled water only in restaurants in Ireland is rampant, but nobody has really ever appeared to give a damn when I order tap here in Toronto or NYC.

  32. Caren says:

    We are so lucky here in my area of Minnesota to have great water. In blind taste tests it beat bottled water (aquafina and evian) and yet everywhere I go I see people drinking bottled water. I used to drink lots of diet soda and bottled sparkling water. Now I’m down to homemade iced green tea or tap water. I have a store bought nalgene bottle I can scrub out now and then. Our church has even taken a stand against bottled water with so many people on earth without a clean water supply.

  33. glblguy says:

    For me it’s all about taste. Now I drink natural spring water, not Aquafina (from Pepsi) or Dasani (from Coke) (btw, from a friend of mine that works at Coke, Dasani is from the Catawba River, also the same water they use to mix Coke).

    I just can’t deal with the terrible taste of tap water. I’ve tried, even the filters don’t do it for me. We do recycle the bottles though so it doesn’t take up landfill space.

    Trent, what is the basis for your no more than a nickel point? Not disagreeing, just want to see the reasoning.

  34. atlas says:

    Bottled is of a slightly higher quality than tap water, but sodium is added to Aquavina for flavor, so keep that in mind. Also, tap water contains fluoride (among other chemicals). Fluoride helps you retain calcium (hence its “good” for teeth), but some studies have shown that calcium deposits are found in the brain cells of Alzheimer’s patients, so too much fluoride could possibly be bad for you, however nothing conclusive has been proven.

    Me personally? I choose un-fluorinated, no-salt-added bottled water. Check the label and, of course, recycle your bottles.

  35. Erin says:

    Bottled water may be tap water, but it’s filtered tap water. No on in LA drinks tap water straight from the tap because it tastes disgusting. We use a Pur filter because just chilling it doesn’t improve the taste, you have to filter it.

    Where I used to live in Northern California, we also couldn’t drink water straight from the tap because a lengthy drought had caused seawater to fill our freshwater source. Some days it tasted like gargling salt water. We had to buy filtered water from the grocery store. This was before the age of bottled water, but they had a dispenser where you could fill one-gallon jugs, so we used those repeatedly. I’m sure it was tap water, but it was somehow filtered, flouridated, and desalinated to some degree.

  36. Scarfish says:

    I’ve always been interested in the bottled water debate because…seriously? People buy bottled water to keep in their house? I have a Brita pitcher which I always keep filled and in the fridge. NYC tap water’s not bad at all, I just prefer the slightly filtered taste and cooler temperature. I guess I could see it if you lived in a place with hard water, but even my grandmother has a filter system on the front of her refrigerator.

    I still buy more bottled water than I would prefer. It’s just not feasible for me to carry a full bottle everywhere I go, nor to carry an empty one to fill up (where on earth could I fill it up anyway? It’s not sanitary to hand behind the counter at Starbucks, etc., and there aren’t many public water sources like fountains here in the city. The water that comes out of a sink in a public restroom may or may not actually be filtered for drinking, is usually tepid at best, and also not sanitary to fill). I hate that I buy two or three bottles a week, and I reuse them as much as possible (especially for Crystal Light shaker-thingys). However, as mentioned earlier, the plastic is not graded for repeat use, and there’s also a danger in reusing a bottle over and over without washing it (and who does that?).

  37. Mitch says:

    Filters–it depends on your local water. I pretty much grew up on well water (rather than municipal), and some of the places it helped the taste more than others. Also, I have a squirt-style sports bottle with a mini Brita filter in it that I’ve used at times. Don’t know if they still make it but it’s sometimes handy.

  38. Jim says:

    I’m curious as to what kinds of things grow in you guys’ water bottles. I have one here that I re-fill pretty much every day at the drinking fountain at work. It’s been here since last November and hasn’t grown anything I can tell. I have another one that I re-fill maybe twice a month and it’s not growing anything either.

    I notice I can use water bottles or soda bottles without worrying about growing anything, but if I don’t dry out an empty apple juice bottle it’ll grow some mold in about a week.

  39. ZenniHill says:

    I’ve been lurking in the background since early June. I mainly read the blog for the financial topics, but this topic does concern me as I drink lots of water a day and I refill my Aguafina bottles daily. I normally purchase my bottles every six months or so. I’ve repeatedly checked Snopes on this topic and they say that the claim about plastic bottles breaking down into carcinogenic compounds when re-used is false, that it is a Urban Legend. What are your thoughts about Snopes claiming it’s false?

  40. Wendy says:

    The comment posted by Elaine @ 2:32 is definitely on the money. You should not keep reusing plastic bottles after 2 or 3 times. Instead bottles that are considered non-leeching plastic are best. They are non-porous and won’t leak out the chemicals (contained in any plastic items such as water bottles, tupperware, etc) into your water or food. Hence, the nasty taste or smell your water bottle may get after a few uses.

  41. Jason says:

    I grew up drinking cool water directly from the Florida Aquifer. MMMM! Just a little hint of lime(stone) flavor, but still better than “city water”. Now I own a home connected to a private water company’s nasty chlorinated supply, so my wife and I use a faucet-mount PUR filter + a camelbak bottle. It’s easier to drink out of than my nalgene, plus it fits in my car cupholder. Now I’m always hydrated! (pulling over to pee lol)

    @Marcus Murphy: is that one of those systems where the guy comes door to door trying to sell them?

  42. N'Awlins Kat says:

    @Jim Two things that multiply quickly in your water bottle: strep and staph germies! A couple of years ago, one of our local tv stations did a swab and culture of people’s bottles–those that were refilled without rinsing, ones that were rinsed, some washed by hand with soap, and some washed in a dishwasher at high heat. The ONLY ones not colonized were those run through a dishwasher (which probably does terrible things to the plastic’s integrity). Twas a real eye-opener. I’d always run them thru the washer when I did a load, just because I suspected thingies might be growing. My husband uses an old stainless steel thermos for his drinks–no style, but no problems, either.

    We drink tap water here; our neighborhood has an artesian well and I think it tastes pretty good. It’s chlorinated by law now, but before additives, visitors found it pretty nasty because of the high sulfur content. I’ll never forget my first few fountain drinks after moving here….like urping brimstone. Grape koolaid was interesting, too. (shudder) With chlorine, we don’t much notice the sulfur anymore, though.

    We keep a few cases of Army-issue water, just in case of storms; I’ll have to rotate it out or consume it at the end of this hurricane season, but other than that, we don’t buy the bottled stuff. But two years ago, there were boil orders in place for well over a month, and I gotta tell you, when you have to haul your carcass to the Wal-Mart parking lot and wait in line in 95 degree heat for the soldiers to pass out ice and water for a month or two, you start really appreciating fresh, safe water and refrigeration. Now, my family has a 1200′ deep well that goes into an artesian hot spring; unlikely to be contaminated, under pressure w/o a pump, and 100 degrees when it comes out of the ground. No more worries about muni water, thank God. The sulfur, on the other hand……it’s baaaaaack!

  43. PF says:

    paradoxymoron: I tried goig without the Brita filter and the water takes on the tastes of the fridge. It takes more than 3 hours for it to taste bad, but by the next day, yuck!. However, I only change my filters every 6 months without any problems instead of every 2 months like they tell you to do.

    Bill: Millions of us live on well water and don’t have a mouth full of fillings. I’m not sure flouride is the main factor

    I use the Nalgene “On the Go” bottle because I it fits in a drink holder better and I can operate it one-handed while driving. I invested in 10 of these. We fill them with water when we take them out of the dishwasher and throw them in the fridge. The result: we always have cold, bottled water. The initial investment was a bit high, but I’m sure we’ve recovered the price now a year later.

  44. Ali says:

    Our family loves the new Camelbak water bottles with the bite-valve. My kids are small and think it is pretty grown-up of them to be drinking out of the big bottles instead of sippy-cups. These Camelbak bottles are much sturdier than the kiddie cups you pay nearly as much for, spill-proof and they hook right onto diaperbags, back packs and fit nicely in most vehicle cupholders. Also, they don’t stain or absorb nasty odors (like sour milk).

  45. Shevy says:

    I do not, under any circumstances, drink water that is not bottled. During a boil water advisory last year I brushed my teeth and washed my dishes with bottled water.

    1. I’m allergic to the chlorine in the water and get a serious post-nasal drip if I drink tap water. (And bright red eyes and irritated skin when I swim in a pool.) Breathing chlorine also aggravates my asthma.
    2. I don’t want fluorine, lead, or any other unpleasant things in my water. I saw a news report this past week about someone whose house had mistakenly been connected to a non-potable irrigation source for months or longer and they only just found out!
    3. It tastes far better and I’ll actually drink water. Before I bought it bottled I wouldn’t drink water at all, disliked the taste of most coffee & tea and drank huge amounts of Coca-Cola (at least one big bottle per day). This is far healthier.
    4. Water filters (Brita, etc.) don’t really take care of the taste issue for me, and aren’t generally as thorough about filtering out other stuff as the water companies are.
    5. I’m always prepared in case of any emergency. Fire, floods, earthquake, etc. could shut off your access to clean drinking water with little or no notice and you would probably be lucky to get it back in under a week. You can’t live without water for that long, so people start drinking contaminated water and then you’ve got disease spreading (typhoid, cholera, etc.).
    6. It’s true that many parts of the world don’t have access to adequate, safe, accessible water. The solution is to work on increasing access to safe water throughout the world, not to limit our access to it out of guilt.

    However, I buy very little water in small bottles. I have a stoneware urn so we aren’t using electricity to heat &/or cool the water. It takes 5 gallon bottles and I always keep a couple of extras on hand over and above what we use in 2 weeks. It costs roughly $9 for 5 gallons, under a quarter for the equivalent of a small bottle. The empty bottles are picked up when the new water is delivered.

    This is one expense that is well worth the price for me. YMMV.

  46. ammbd says:

    We drink bottled water picked up from Sam’s or Costco. Until we buy a house & can install either a custom filtration system or at least a Brita this is not going to change. Our household goes through way too much water for any pitcher to keep up & we’ve yet to find an affordable apartment in this town equipped with a kitchen faucet compatible with Brita or PUR filter.

    As the prior poster mentioned, AZ water is nasty. ex: we used to live in Maryvale & the water tasted like kerosene. No amount of Kool Aide, Tang or chilling changed that either.

    However, having seen the recommendations for Nalgene & Sigg we’ll be looking into those:)

  47. Ryan says:

    Having worked for both Pepsi and Coke at their Aquafina and Dasani production facilities, I think that bottled “tap” water is getting sort of a bad rap. Sure, sure, I agree that more bottles in a landfill is bad and I personally drink filtered water out of our fridge, but the stuff is NOT simply tap water, nor is it even filtered water. Let me expound…

    First off, Aquafina and Dasani are brands of “purified” water, meaning the city water goes through an extensive filtration process and Reverse Osmosis process to remove all mineral and stuff from the water (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reverse_osmosis). This ensures that each bottle of water tastes the same regardless of where it is made. Most large beer companies do this also to make sure beer in Colorado doesn’t taste different from beer of the same brand in St. Louis.
    After this step, both filled with ozonated water (to kill microorganisms) and Aquafina is put in a sterilized bottle and out the door. Dasani goes through an additional process where they add minerals (mostly salts) back into the water in small batches. In fact if you taste Dasani at room temp you may taste a hint of salt.

    So there you have it, the real story on what’s in those water bottles you are buying. Interesting fact – It costs coke more to make Dasani per fl. oz than Coke.

    Oh, and BTW – don’t reuse those bottles for drinking water unless it’s that day and even if you put them in the dishwasher. The Machines that Pepsi and Coke use to clean the bottles before filling get into all the areas of the inside of the bottle and dries it – your dishwasher does not and it WILL grow microorganism in as few as 1 day, at 14 days it will have all kinds of stuff in there, possibly pathogens.

  48. Teresa says:

    you know, one thing that works well for me was double filtering with brita. that seemed to take out a lot of the bad taste that i would get with just plain tap water. now i use a water distiller and it works great for us. we are actually drinking more water than we were before. so for us, its worth it. but thats just my two cents. :)

  49. Sophia says:

    during a boil advisory you guys don’t just boil the water?

    where i live (asia) most of us drink boiled tap water at home

    in restaurants i suppose it’s just tap. hardly anyone likes to pay for bottled water here.

    but the tap water here doesn’t have any different taste, but there is still evil!flouride

  50. SwingCheese says:

    Where I grew up, the tap water was great. I never even understood the need for a filtration system. A move to a different municipal water source changed my mind, and I purchased a Pur water pitcher. Where we now live, the taste of tap water is fine, and really, not dramatically different from the filtered stuff. We drink both, depending on how much water is in the pitcher.

    However, about 3 months after moving here, our male cat developed a severe urinary tract infection. The vet said that it is due to the high mineral content in the tap water. (Male cats are more prone to UTIs in general, but this cat had never had one in the previous 2 years we’d owned him.) We switched the cats to drinking only the filtered water, and he hasn’t had an issue since. There was only a brief moment of panic for me, when I thought I was going to have to buy my cats bottled water!! :)

  51. Jim says:

    Wow, jump on many bandwagons?

    “My wife knew that would get my hackles up …” Sounds like an interesting life, keeping you from blowing a gasket. Why not chill and let consumers do what they want, instead of lecturing? People are willing to pay for convenience: if what they purchase offends you, you might want to examine that a little more closely.

    Consider the idea, just for a moment, that you don’t know everything that’s involved in a particular situation, and maybe you won’t feel the need to “rant” so frequently.

    Geez, I’m tired of being preached to by eco-nuts. Let’s see, what might be next? Aluminum drink cans, yeah, see, you can actually get those in 6oz sizes, what kind of waste is that? And, really, who needs carbonated drinks, anyway? What a waste! Ban all consumer goods!!!

  52. Rebekah says:

    When we were younger, my mom taught us to refill the bottles halfway and freeze them – easy ice pack. I’ll use Brita water and then finish filling the frozen bottle with more Brita water – it melts as I go through my day, and I always have cold water. (If I’m out, and hot/thirsty, I will buy bottled water, but we reuse the bottle when I get home. $1.39 is too much for tap water, but it’s a small price to avoid dehydration when I’m out longer than I planned to be.)

  53. mike says:

    as a rule, i drink tap water. BUT, I have 5 cases of bottled water in my garage.
    The reason is simple, I live on the gulf coast and we were without ANY running water for over a week in my neighborhood after hurricane ivan in 2004. our pool (emergency water supply) was overrun w/saltwater and silt.
    if you happen to live somewhere that can be totally cut-off from even the most basic of life sustaining staples then bottled water does become a necessary fact of life. (can’t just fill the bathtub before the storm, my ceilings collapsed so even that water was filled w/drywall….)

  54. Lisa says:

    I agree with Mike above, who lives on the coast and keeps cases of bottled water – it’s a wise move for a family who might be without drinkable water for a few days. We live in a rural area where winter snows can cause power outages (we have a well and sump pump which doesn’t work if the electricity goes out) and keep us in the house for a day or two, and we keep bottled water around for that same reason. BUT – on a daily basis, you and the environment are MUCH better off if you buy and carry an inexpensive, stylish Sigg aluminum water bottle. There is a non-toxic coating inside the bottle that doesn’t hold any flavor so you can fill and re-fill it with any kind of liquid, and the bottle itself is practically indestructible. If it does somehow reach the end of its useful life, it’s 100% recyclable aluminum. Find out about them here: http://www.mysigg.com/ I don’t leave home without mine (I bought the striped Harmony bottle, but as you can see, the style options are many) and it never fails to start a conversation, thereby giving me the opportunity to talk to other people about the wisdom of not buying all those plastic bottles that will mostly end up in landfills. It’s a win-win all the way around!

  55. Justin says:

    @Jim: The way some of us “eco-nuts” see it is that we pay over $3 at the pump because our demand for oil is out of control. Manufacturing plastic bottles, shipping them to distribution plants and then back to consumers, and then the disposal/recycling process uses quite a lot of resources. Many people aren’t aware of the impact of something so innocuous as drinking bottled water, so I’m glad Trent is helping educate the world.

  56. Tommy says:

    I guess I am the antichrist according to all you guys. Our house is usually stocked with 20 or more 24 pack of different varieties – usually Poland Spring, Evian, Fiji or Deer Park. My car has about 20-50 empty bottles a week, and I drink at least 5-12 daily.

    For me, it is something I crave and I love being hydrated. Yes, we also have a brita filter in our house on the sink and an actual jug. But water in your car, on the metro, going to work, etc etc. is too important for me.

    Is water a big expense? You bet. But I know it’s coming from safe, clean sources and I’d rather spend my money knowing my body is well-hydrated.

    So, yeah, I’m the guy drinking the $4.50 Fiji Bottle. It’s my preference. I do hundreds of other things to underspend, so I don’t mind to buy a product I truly enjoy.

  57. Tommy says:

    Jim – I agree 100%. If you give someone a bad look for drinking bottled water, your pathetic. Consumers have the right to make choices and if you don’t like it then too bad.

    (…drinks another sip of Poland Spring bottled water..)

  58. Brad says:

    I find that Brita filters still leave much of the taste I can’t stand. This time of the year it is even more profound as the local lake we get our water from has some strange occurrences. It is supposed to still be safe, but it tastes horrid and I even use filtered water to brush my teeth. :)

    We buy it 5 gallons per jug from a little filtering stand place. Sure, it is the same water, but it is heavily filtered and reasonably cheap at 25 cents per gallon.

    I solved that by opening my mouth and letting them see what happens when one grows up (as I did) without the benefit fluoridated municipal water.

    I have read enough that I think modern water fluoridation is harmful to all but the very young and even dubious there. I would bet it was more dental hygiene and techniques (which have since advanced) than fluoridated water that “caused” your fillings.


  59. Brad says:

    I forgot to add that I have heard that plastic does leech into the liquid stored in it. I am still not going to all glass, but it is worth considering for the “purists” out there.


  60. Vincent says:

    There was an episode of Penn and Teller’s BULLSH!T! about just this subject.

    It’s very, very telling. They open a fictitious water restaurant and have people taste various “vintages” of water. It’s hilarious. Watch it.

    Penn and Teller’s BULLSH!T! — The Truth about Bottled Water

    It cusses, so be careful if you’re at work.

  61. lorax says:

    Brad – there are studies that show that cities with fluorinated water have less kids with dental problems. It’s the hardening of the young teeth that’s the benefit. If you live out in the boonies, your dentist might recommend fluoride supplements for your young ‘uns. Every dentist we’ve been to has, as well as the pediatricians. (That doesn’t mean it doesn’t cause cancer, but I’ve asked all of them about the studies and they’ve convinced me that there are no rigorous medical studies that show fluoride as a problem – yet.)

  62. Rebekah says:

    Trent (and Tommy) – we have a (one) Fiji water bottle in the freezer among the refilled. I won’t even carry it out of the house anymore, not after I read that the people in Fiji don’t have drinkable water.

    this source came up via Google, but it’s not the only place I read it.
    Bottled water expose’

    FWIW, I won’t take a “free” subscription to the newspaper in exchange for $10 off my groceries, because I’d rather get my news online. I just got a trike – I can’t ride a bicycle – to save gas resources. I don’t pick on anyone – even single SUV owners who idle their motors – for their choices. These are mine.

  63. Jeni says:

    I feel like an idiot because I drink a bottle of my boyfriend’s water (Auqafina coincidently) every day when I go to his house, and it’s never dawned on me about how much plastic I’m wasting! I used to be big on recycling, but upon moving to Las Vegas, I sort of gave up on it:( I like tap water, though, because it has flouride in it. I grew up in Hawaii, which has no flouride in the water, and I now have a ton of cavities. So I’ll now be washing out my boyfriend’s water bottles and refilling them with tap water. Thanks!

  64. N'Awlins Kat says:

    After reading the past couple of days’ comments about bottled water and plastic waste, last night I attended a public forum on conservation and land management here in SE Louisiana. Speaking were representatives of the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, the Land Trust for SELA, the Conservation Fund and the Nature Conservancy (among others). And the VERY first thing I noticed? Every single one of them had a bottle of water in front of them. And about half the audience did, as well.

    Now, 15 years ago, as a reporter, I covered local and parish government meetings with eye-glazing regularity, and there was always a glass pitcher of ice water and individual glass drinking cups for speakers then. I guess I can understand the need for speakers to have a drink (in the 90s, I sometimes wondered if water was ALL that was in those glasses!), but really…if you’re pitching conservancy to the public, why would you flout that by swigging so conspicuously from your disposable bottle? And this in an area which currently has NO recycling, and a serious problem with landfills. Is it so difficult to rinse a glass? Just my .05 (inflation).

    /Rant off

    @Rebekah–brava on the trike! I’d love to have one; I can’t ride a bike anymore, either.

  65. Kristi says:

    It really depends on where you live if you can fill up bottles or not. When I lived in Hannibal, MO I filled up bottles and put them in the fridge and found that within a few days, black mold was growing inside the bottles.

  66. pam says:

    I agree that aquafina and the like are a waste of money. But Trent, you don’t have the right to rant at the store about other customers purchases. Live and let live.

  67. Marcus Murphy says:

    @Jason – No actually this is one that was custom built by a friend of my doctor (who is also my friend). My doctor and a few of his friends (myself included) all submitted water samples to a water lab together. The plumber friend who built these filtration systems put together a system that he was satisfied with, because everything on the market lacked in one area or another. And not only the TDS meter, but the water samples proved this. In the end it cost me about $1200 ($900 in parts) plus a couple hundred for the guy to install it all. It cost me about $150/yr to maintain, but it is well spent money I think. In the 3 yrs I’ve had it now, I think it has paid itself off in the amount of bottled water I have not bought, and the amount of kickback money I get from people I give water to.

  68. Thompson Hunter says:

    Umm… no. It’s FILTERED tap water. There’s a difference you know!

    That said, I’ve been refilling my bottles with either tap or filtered tap water for years. I usually buy a case a year and use it all year long. By the end of the year, the bottles start looking a bit scruffy (used primarily for travel, not around the house where I’ve been recycling the same blue glass Arizona Iced Tea bottles for 10 years) and I put them in the recycling bin at the curb.

    Tip for city water folks: You can remove much of the cholrine by filling a pitcher and letting it sit out open over night. The taste and smell dissipate.

  69. Thompson Hunter says:

    Having now read the responses I have to comment on the nasty things growing and leaching into my bottles of water:
    cough BS cough.
    Ok, things do grow. Know what? That’s good for you. Not if you’ve never encountered them, but if you do it routinely you’re building resistance. (Ever wonder why Mexicans can drink their water for years but you take on sip and your vacation is ruined? They’ve built immunities to the stuff in the water. Living in a bubble free from germs we’re actually lowering our immunity! That’s why I french kiss the dog every morning.)
    If you leave bottles of water out in light, eventually they will grow algae. This isn’t bad for you – I’m drinking right now from a glass bottle that has a green fuzz on the bottom – but it grosses some people out. Keep your water stored in the dark. Empty the bottle and let dry when not in use.
    Leaching. Well, depending on how paranoid you are, even Lexan bottles leach. Maybe. Doesn’t seem to be definitive info available (surprise). We won’t know how bad this is for us for a few years yet, so maybe you should stick to glass as much as possible. Besides, you can scrub a glass bottle out with a brush and it’s brand new.

  70. Ayuri says:

    Although I agree that drinking only bottled water is a little ridiculous, there are a few points in your article that are problematic. For one, those bottles aren’t safe to reuse (this warning is branded on most labels) because the plastic erodes over time and leaks into the water. Also, not everyone has drinkable tap water. In my old home, even a filter system failed to make my hard water palatable.

  71. soothsayer says:

    The guy who fills a stainless steel thermos has got it right. It is no myth that plastics leach into water and other liquids and foods. Often you can smell and taste it particularly in bottled water which may be stored for months. If you don’t believe your nose and tastebuds, read this month’s Mother Jones article “Hard to Break,” for research citations. I hate to break it to all you Nalgene lovers, polycarbonate contains bisphenol-A, which has been linked to prostate cancer, precancerous breast tissue in animals studies, chromosomal abnomalities in human uterine cells, and a predisposition to obesity in mice. You don’t have to use a bulky thermos, though. Several companies (www.kleenkanteen.com is one)are now making slim, light stainless steel bottles for drinking water. They last forever and your water never tasted so good. I use a Brita to filter but don’t leave the water sitting for long periods in the polycarbonate pitcher. (Flouride has it’s own issues and chlorine certainly does. I can only hope that someday I’ll be able to afford reverse-osmosis filtration) I’ll admit to being an eco-nut– recycling uses quite a bit of energy and other resources, so it’s no pancea– but in this case I’m just a health nut.

  72. soothsayer says:

    Whoops! I misspelled http://www.kleankanteen.com in my previous comment.

    I’ve posted on the subject of stainless water bottles. For more info, please visit:


  73. drayke says:

    That “Penn & Teller BULLSHIT” spot is bullshit and is really irrelevant. It’s not as if all tap water, or bottled water, or filtered water, is created equal. NYC tap water is one of the best municipal tap waters in the country

    I have lived in the East Bay suburbs of San Francisco, San Francisco, Kansas, and Los Angeles and each place has different quality tap water. In fact, the suburb I grew up in, Walnut Creek, had two different sources of water and luckily I lived in the part of town that got water from the Sierras, as did San Francisco, rather than the coastal ranges. The difference was amazing, the Sierra water tasted clean and pure, the locally supplied water tasted like an estuary, which is probably where it came from.

    The water I had in Kansas would grow black mold if left out over night whereas the water I’ve never seen the water anywhere else I’ve lived ever do that no matter how long it was out. Sometimes the Kansan water would smell and taste like a fish tank and the locals would say it was because “the lake turned over”. Not to mention it came from a river with many other cities and towns upstream for 100s of miles, all dumping their recycled sewage back into it. Yuck.

    In Los Angeles, the chlorination levels seem uneven. The water itself does not seem too bad, except for the chlorine which normally is just mildly distasteful, but occasionally it is so strong that when you flush the toilet you get a stonger chlorine smell throughout the bathroom than an indoor heated pool.

    Some places I’ve traveled the water comes out of the tap brown and or with sediment in it. And I’ve even had “Montezuma’s Revenge” in California from the water supplied by the City of Carmel.

    Alternately, bottled water may be degraded by sitting too long in the bottle, especially if it has sat in the heat or sun in which there will definitely be the taste of plastic.

    I much prefer to drink out of glass and why would anyone be drinking out of aluminum? You know, there are links to aluminum and Alzheimers.

  74. Josh says:

    I agree i drinkmy tap water causde my city has its own water that is clean, cheap and tastes good… unfortunately many people city cities around here get regular water… and the person who said pastic bottles get recycles….wrong justb/c they are suppose to doesn’t mean they do michigan is banning plastic bottles cause they get throw away and into the sewer system which causes alotor proble,ms not to mention litering so this guy is right when he says you use use them over again

  75. Kimberly says:

    I’ve worked in a pharmaceutical company corporate headquarters package design department. PLEASE do not wash out your disposable plastic (PETE) water bottles and reuse them. The detergents in dish soap make PETE unstable and, as other posters have stated, leech into your water. The bottles are not intended for repeat use.

  76. scarmer says:

    Uhhh, it’s either spring water or tap water, always was, this was the biggest non-news event of the year – I knew it originated as tap water, where do you think they got it from? The point about Aquafina was never where it was FROM, it was that it was purified. Anyone who tells you that Aquafina IS tap water because it came FROM tap water, doesn’t understand reverse osmosis, which is not the same as a $5 filter on the faucet either. You can buy reverse osmosis under-the-sink units which should provide similar results to Aquafina, or you can buy something like Aquafina. There is a difference and you can taste it. Don’t listen to all the idiots tell you otherwise; they don’t have a clue.

  77. ginc says:

    FYI—Flouride is a poison. It is was used in the early days to treat those with hyper-thyroidism to basically kill off the thyroid. If you have a history of hypo-thyroidism you should avoid anything with flouride. Also, Splenda has other side effects but they have recently released a report indicating that it kills off the thyroid over time. Use stevia or xylitol instead, made by nature.

  78. alex says:


    Sodium is also a poison. Normal amounts of Nitrogen (the most common element in air), under pressure, will cause you to behave as if you were drunk, and could eventually kill you. Oxygen, in large doses, will kill you. (Want a reference for those last two? Ask any scuba diver, especially one trained in tri-mix, nitrox, or depth-diving.)

    Solution? Get rid of it! Let’s see… literally no sodium diet! Oh, look… I’m dead. Huh. Okay, try Oxygen. Whoops, dead again. Nitrogen? Hey, still dead! Still wonder what happens when you stop taking in Fluoride? Here’s a hint: you die (with bad teeth, too).

    Every thing, every thing, every thing, in high doses, is bad for you. Money, power, dirt, sleep, food, fluoride, whatever. That doesn’t mean that in normal doses, it is bad for you. In fact, those toxic elements may sometimes actually be, you know, *required* for life.

  79. chris says:

    Aquafina’s source is municipal tap water, but it undegoes a 7 step purification process which includes reverse-osmosis and ozone infusion that produces the purest water availble in bottle form. Although this means almost all minerals are extracted, it also means the other garbage (e.g. bacteria, pharmeceuticals, etc.) is removed. Filtering your tap water (e.g. Britta) won’t remove a fraction of what the Aquafina process will. Although more costly, I’ll take that trade off any day.

  80. Tami says:

    I JUST HAD MY BOTTLED AQUAFINA WATER TESTED FOR TDS AND IT CAME OUT TO BE ZERO! I had a professional come out to my house to test my under-the-sink filter, my tap water, my fridge filtered water and 3 types of bottled water. Arrowhead was 280 TDS! That is crazy! Tap water is close to that! Dasani was 40 which is good but Aquafina surprised me with ZERO! I had them test it twice, I thought the meter was broken. So how about that?

  81. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    Tami: that’s not really a good thing. Good water has some degree of mineral content – it’s good for your health. TDS is not bad by any means.

  82. kangen water says:

    Please people do not buy auqafina or anything of that type you are better off drinking tapwater in a number five or seven jug it is on the bottom in the triangle. The ones with one the one in the triangle acid from the petroleum links into the water thus poisoning your body. And auqafina is reverse osmosis water which is very acidic and has very little pH in it, the Japanese call the water, dead water, look into kangen water and email me at s.fromm@yahoo.com and I will give info it is located in Destin, Florida. And scientists proved that by drinking this water it helps improve your bodys overall function, it helps your muscle improve after a workout and it kills cancer in the your body. So people for your health look into this water.

  83. Amelia says:

    I try to drink tap water, but it tastes horrible. I have a filter on the sink and a pitcher but neither can get rid of the taste. I remember the days of walking up to the fridge at home (in NC), pressing the glass to the lever and getting better than bottled. 1,700 miles later in Texas the water is so bad smelling/tasting I can’t sit in the bath, or drink it. I either buy water (I don’t buy the individual bottles I go for the gallon variety) or drink anything else. I hope I move back to a place where I can drink the water, I hate paying for well filtered water.

  84. I agree so much with this post, but I have a suggestion to improve the water quality another step. By all the tests we have good tap water in our town but it smells of chlorine when it comes out of the tap. We put it in a large jar with a large opening and let it air. The chlorine smell evaporates and the water tastes better (and is presumably healthier).

    On the occasions when we buy a bottle of water (after the security gate at the airport, for example) we reuse those bottles many times (until lost, basically).

  85. Ron says:

    I’m late to the party, but the first claim at the top of this page is demonstrably false: “Aquafina is tap water, as are many other bottled waters. The liquid inside is basically the same thing you get from your tap in the kitchen.”

    The water that comes out of my tap runs at about 330 ppm on average. Aquafina uses reverse osmosis to purify their water and runs between 0 and 1 ppm.

    Whether or not it is beneficial to have dissolved solids in out water can be (and has been) debated, but Aquafina is not the same thing as tap water, period (unless you mean something ridiculously broad like “they both contain H2O”).

  86. Ron says:

    And regarding post 82:

    RO water isn’t “very acidic”. It has a pH of 7, which is exactly neutral.

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