Don’t Bottle It Up: Speaking Out About the Benefits of Tap Water
We’re in deep water when it comes to the amount of plastic waste we’re using, and what’s even more shocking is that much of it is completely needless. Take bottled water as a prime example. In the UK, we are lucky enough to have a very good standard of drinking water that flows freely from our taps, which we can drink, bar the tiny amount it adds to our water bills, for free. And yet, we still continue to guzzle down bottled water, often with no thought into the consequences of our simple everyday actions. The bottled water industry in the UK is worth in excess of £2.4bn a year!
At GreenSeas Trust, we are great advocates of inspiring behavioural change, giving everyone the tools they need to consider their everyday actions and think about ways to reduce their impact on the planet. Often, it’s incredibly simple – as simple as turning on the tap instead of reaching into your purse to purchase a bottle of water. In this blog, we are going to explore some of the reasons why tap water triumphs over bottled, and some of the reasons might run a little deeper than you think…
- Tap water is safer to drink. All tap water is closely monitored and rigorously tested by The Drinking Water Inspectorate, and yet despite having such strict standards in place, 99.7% of samples pass the tests. This shows the quality of the tap water we are drinking, and demonstrates that it is very closely audited. Bottled water is actually far less well regulated, and it is looked after by local authorities, meaning there is not one central place where it is monitored. Researchers found that whilst tap water has to be checked daily, bottled water only needs to be tested monthly. Tap water also contains traces of chlorine, which makes it more bacteria resistant and helps stop infections spreading. Bottled water doesn’t have this, so when you buy it, you need to drink it quickly – within a few days at the most. Wouldn’t it ultimately be easier just to turn on the tap?
- Bottled water is so expensive. Compared to tap water, the bottled variety is extortionate in price. If you are a United Utilities customer, one litre of water will set you back less than a penny. You are charged per cubic metre – one cubic metre is the equivalent of 1,000 litres, which will cost you about £3. Yes, £3. How many litres of bottled water would you get for that? At Tesco, you could get around 15 litres of water for £3 if you chose their cheapest range. Just think of all the things you could be buying with the money you save…
- Your bottled water is probably tap water, anyway… It was revealed back in 2004 that the bottled water sold by Coca Cola was actually purified tap water, sourced from the mains supply in its Kent-based factory! Then, in 2007, Pepsi and Nestle had to change labels on their Aquafina and Pure Life brands to show where the water had come from. If you’re just paying more to drink purified tap water, then why not get it from the tap and cut out the middleman? And if you’re looking for the same purity as Aquafina or Pure Life? Simply use a water filter. There are so many different kinds on the market, from jugs you can keep in the fridge to filters in reusable bottles for water on the go. They will remove impurities to give you better tasting water, and if you keep it in the fridge, it will be cold and ready to drink.
- There are some great refillable bottles on the market. Some of them will even keep your water cold for you. You can refill them as many times as you want to, and you can carry them everywhere so that you always have cold, fresh water to hand. It’s much more convenient than having to go into a shop to buy water, no?
- So few bottles are actually recycled. Despite the fact that we are constantly encouraged to recycle plastics, a shockingly low percentage of bottles in the UK actually make it this far. According to Recyclenow, around 16 million plastic bottles a day are not recycled in the UK – this is out of the 35.8 million that we use in total. By not using plastic in the first place, we can dramatically cut this amount, and bottled water is a great place to start – simply make a commitment to drinking tap water instead. This will help reduce the strain on local recycling, reduce plastic pollution and help reduce plastic in our oceans. If you want to find out more about the types of plastic you can recycle in your area, check out this handy local recycling tool from Recyclenow, which only requires you to put in your postcode.
- The production of plastic to make bottles is very damaging for the environment. Crude oil is used in the manufacturing process, as the chemicals used to make Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) are extracted from this. The manufacture of plastic bottles is a drain on natural resources, and the extraction processes pf crude oils are damaging to the environment as well.
- Plastic bottles shouldn’t be reused, if you want to be 100% sure you’re not damaging your health. It is possible that the water bottles you are using contain bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that could interfere with our hormones. It has not actually been definitively proved whether this chemical is harmful to humans, but some have linked it to medical conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and even cancer. By topping up your bottle with fresh water, you are increasing your risk of these chemicals entering the water your are drinking. Whilst the risk seems pretty low, it’s so easy to avoid the risk altogether – by drinking tap water in a glass or a reusable bottle instead.
Bottled water might seem like a convenience in our hectic modern society, but it’s damaging effects will be felt by our planet and our oceans for years to come. And when you consider that your bottled water might actually just be purified tap water anyway, isn’t it much better just to turn on the tap? We certainly think so.