Saving money on drinking water is probably the simplest thing you can do to economize. And all you have to do is turn on the bloody tap! According to Tapwater.org, an organization devoted to discouraging the consumption of bottled water (and, it should be noted, selling their own refillable bottles and assorted supplies), the average consumer in the UK spends £25,000 on bottled water during the course of their lifetime. Why, that’s about enough to purchase a shiny new Jag or a couple of nice motorbikes, neither of which will do much to slake your thirst, but will go much farther in moving you higher on the “cool” scale. But corporate profit incentives and ego-fulfillment aside, there is a lot to be said for not consuming commercially bottled water. To wit:
British tap water costs approximately 0.09p per litre, meaning that £1 will buy roughly 1,000 litres. By comparison, that same £1 will purchase a one-litre bottle of “purified” water. It doesn’t take a university-trained mathematician to see how much more costly the bottled stuff is, but it is possible that some of those mathematicians work for the bottled water companies, just to keep track of the huge profits they make.
Yes, we know… some of the bottled stuff is “purified,” or perhaps “enhanced with essential minerals.” Sounds impressive, but the fact is that a goodly portion of that bottled stuff comes from a tap, anyway. So by boiling it and perhaps tossing in a virtually untraceable amount of calcium, or iron, or whatnot, and putting it into a pretty bottle, they can charge a thousand times as much for it. And according statements in The Telegraph by Prof Paul Younger of Glasgow University, author of Water: All That Matters, “Water coming from UK taps is the most stringently tested in the world. People think there must be something wrong with tap water because it is so cheap and plentiful. But from a safety and price perspective, tap water is better for you. There’s certainly a greater chance you could find something harmful in bottled water than from your taps.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9775158/Bottled-water-not-as-safe-as-tap-variety.html)
Aside from the much higher cost and concerns about the quality and even safety of bottled water, there’s also the impact upon the environment to be considered. According to The Environmental Technology Centre at the University of Nottingham (http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/etc/news-water.php), even in 2007, British consumers purchased thirteen billion plastic water bottles, only about three billion of which were recycled. Again, you needn’t be a mathematician to imagine where the other ten billion bottles ended up: in landfills, on road sides, and in the bellies of very uncomfortable marine animals.
But the bottled stuff is so convenient…
If you simply must have a bottle of water to take with you wherever you happen to be going, consider purchasing reusable bottles and filling them from the tap. If nothing else, some of the reusable bottles look infinitely more chic than the disposable ones anyway, and you’d have to pay an awful lot for the bottle before it came out to be more costly than buying bottled water over the long term. If you have some worries about purity (which are pretty well unfounded, we might remind you), you could always run the tap water through an inexpensive filter.
In summary, if you simply insist upon purchasing bottled water, at least be honest with yourself as to your reasons for doing so. You certainly aren’t doing it for economic or health reasons. If not having to be bothered with washing out and refilling your own bottles is worth sacrificing that Jag or those motorbikes, and the image of a river clogged with plastic rubbish doesn’t bother you, and you say “bollocks” to the notion of choking dolphins and whales, then by all means, carry on. It’s your money and health after all, and you probably can’t see the river – much less the dolphins – from your flat, anyway.