Tap Water vs. Bottled—What Should You Drink?

Tap Water vs. Bottled—What Should You Drink?

Glug, glug, glug. That's the sound a ginormous number of us make as we drink bottled water in our cars, at the gym and behind our desks.

The sound you don't hear is the thwack of 60 million bottles a day being tossed into U.S. landfills, where they can take up to 1,000 years to biodegrade.

If that's not enough to turn your conscience a brighter shade of green, add this: Producing those bottles burns through 1.5 million barrels of crude oil annually—enough fuel to keep 100,000 cars running for a year. Recycling helps, but reusing and reducing are even better. So invest in a couple of portable, dishwasher-safe, stainless steel bottles like Klean Kanteens that won't leach nasty chemicals into your water. (Don't get into the habit of refilling the plastic water bottle you just emptied; the polyethylene terephthalate it's made of breaks down with multiple uses.)

4 Reasons to Turn on the Tap

1. Tap water is tested daily. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, local water suppliers are required to test tap water daily and to provide an annual report on the quality of the water. By comparison, the FDA examines bottled water only weekly, and consumers don't have access to the results. 

2. Tap water is a bargain. Bottled water costs about 500 times more than tap. And if you're into really fancy labels—up to 1,000 times more.

3. Tap water is a tooth saver. It has more fluoride than bottled water, and that helps prevent tooth decay. (That's right, you never outgrow your need for fluoride.)

4. Tap water can be tasty. Some places (New York City for one) have delicious water, but if you don't love the flavor of your city's H2O, the solution is simple: Run your tap water through a Brita or Pur filter system to help remove unpleasant tastes and odors. The average home filter goes for $8.99 and produces the equivalent of 300 large (16.9 ounce) bottles of water before it needs to be replaced. That's about $0.03 cents a bottle versus the $1.25 or so you'd pay in a market.

One last thing: Don't just think about making this switch; actually do it. Today. It'll do the world—and you—good.

Are you drinking enough water? Find out here.

Medically reviewed in May 2019.

More On

Foods That Can Actually Make You Hungrier—And What to Eat Instead

article

Foods That Can Actually Make You Hungrier—And What to Eat Instead
If you’ve ever downed a bag of chips, but found yourself heading back into the kitchen an hour later in search of a snack, there’s actually an explana...
8 Subtle Ways Alcohol Is Hurting Your Health

slideshow

8 Subtle Ways Alcohol Is Hurting Your Health
Feeling down, tired or broke after having a few drinks? Learn to recognize the not-so-obvious ways that alcohol can affect your overall quality of lif...
Pick This Protein to Cut Throat Cancer Risk

article

Pick This Protein to Cut Throat Cancer Risk
White meat, or red? Your preference could help push your risk of throat cancer a bit lower. Case in point: In a study, people who ate the most red me...
Omega-3s Protect Against Skin Cancer

article

Omega-3s Protect Against Skin Cancer
Clams, shrimp, salmon—which one can do nice things for your skin? Salmon has the edge.  Research suggests that dining on fish high in omega-3 fatty a...
The Insider’s Guide to Healthy Hawaii: Are You Ready to Try a Plant-Based Diet?

article

The Insider’s Guide to Healthy Hawaii: Are You Ready to Try a Plant-Based Diet?
If you’ve read anything about healthy eating plans for people with diabetes, you’ve probably seen the term “plant-based diet.” But what does it mean? ...