Bottled Water vs. Filtered Water - The Age Old Debate

by Ryan Fair / Nov 19, 2015
Bottled Water vs. Filtered Water - The Age Old Debate

Many water drinkers throughout the U.S. rely on bottled water as a safe and convenient means of hydration. This is particularly true when communities lack trust in their municipal water supplies. But is bottled water really safer than the tap water flowing from your kitchen faucet? And is it actually a more cost-effective solution than a home water filtration system?

If you opt for single-use bottles of water as a "cleaner alternative" to your tap water, you may be surprised to find out that the water often comes from the exact same source. Keep reading to learn why bottled water may not be the best option for consumers in search of a clean water source.

The Truth About Bottled Water

Where Does Bottled Water Come From?

The world's largest bottled water brand, Aquafina, has been challenged by Corporate Accountability International, and it is now changing its label to address claims of misleading marketing practices. The "P.W.S." that has been on Aquafina's label will now be spelled out as "Public Water Source," which means it comes from the same supply as your tap water... tap water that has chlorine, fluoride, impurities, and other contaminants that affect your water quality, taste, and safety. And all this with a healthy dose of microplastics from the plastic water bottles they're housed in!

And it is not just Aquafina; the water industry is rife with companies filling their bottles with tap water and passing it off as high-quality spring water through sneaky marketing techniques. In reality, most bottled water has simply passed through the same water treatment plant as the water that flows freely from your tap and is then sold back to you at a premium price on the grocery store shelves.

"Read the label carefully. If it is packaged as "purified" or "drinking water," chances are it came from a municipal water supply, and unless the water has been "substantially" altered, it must state on the label that the water comes from a municipal source.

Often images on the label show mountains, snow, or other bodies of water. For example, the label design on Aquafina (from Pepsi) gives me the feeling of mountains and snow, implying that Aquafina may be from a mountain spring rather than bottled at Pepsi plants using processed municipal water. Coke's Dasani, also one of the leading bottled water brands, is processed municipal water with added minerals. Many gallon jug waters are also from municipal sources."

Phil Lempert, TODAY Show, Food Editor

What Contaminants Are Found In Bottled Water?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the governing agency responsible for regulating bottled water brands and ensuring they deliver safe, clean water for consumers. The question is, what is their definition of 'safe' and 'clean'?

The short answer is that FDA regulations for bottled water are based on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for tap water. You can rest assured bottled water goes through a disinfection process and is acutely safe to consume. But there are still several chemicals and contaminants in bottled water that can cause long-term health issues when consumers experience long-term exposure.

Different types of water end up in bottles on grocery store shelves, including mineral water, artesian water, spring water, and public municipal water, usually labeled as "purified water."

But regardless of the water source, bottled water has been found to contain harmful chemicals, including BPA, Phalates, and more from the plastic it's housed in. Learn more about the known health risks of single-use plastic water bottles.

Is Bottled Water More Economical Than Filtered Water?

Financial Cost of Bottled Water

A Harvard report states that while the water used by several bottled water brands is almost indistinguishable from tap water, a gallon of bottled water is about 3000% more expensive than a gallon of tap water from your public water supply.

Trust us when we say that the addition of a chemical-laden plastic bottle is not worthy of that kind of markup.

A better option if you're looking for a clean drinking water alternative is to employ a home filtration system and use the tap water you already pay for from your municipal water supply. The upfront cost of buying the filtration system is more than a 24-pack of plastic bottles, but the overall savings are astronomical, especially for a multi-person household. Plus, you'll now have access to high-quality drinking water free from the disinfection chemicals of tap water like chlorine and fluoride.

Environmental Cost of Bottled Water

The same Harvard report that revealed the significant cost savings associated with ditching single-use water bottles also sheds light on the dire environmental impacts these bottles create. Here are just a few concerning statistics:

  • America's demand for plastic water bottles requires more than 17 million barrels of oil annually.
  • 86% of plastic water bottles end up in landfills as plastic waste rather than being recycled.
  • More than 8 million tons of plastic produced annually ends up in the ocean.
  • As plastic waste decomposes over 450 years, toxic chemicals and microplastics are released into our waterways and groundwater systems.

Filtered water eliminates the need for single-use plastic and offers an environmentally friendly form of high-quality drinking water.

So, filtered water and bottled water step into the ring. Who wins? The answer is clear. Filtered water offers higher-quality hydration that saves you money and eliminates the negative impacts bottled water has on our shared environment.

Clearly Filtered offers convenient, high-quality water filtration systems to bring the best drinking water straight to your home. Explore our different water filtration options, such as our Clearly Filtered Pitcher, Clearly Filtered Bottle, and our Clearly Filtered Under-Sink System today!