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Why do we gladly swallow the bottled water rip off?

Bottles of water

I very rarely drink bottled water; I’m happy to get it from the tap. On the few occasions I’m forced to buy one after forgetting my refillable bottle, I do it begrudgingly. Do you buy bottled still water?

At a conference last week I was charged £1.60 for a 500ml bottle. What nonsense, especially as I can get it for free out of the tap. Plus in this case, the tea, coffee and soft drinks all cost less.

The British Soft Drinks Association worked out that we drank 33 litres of bottled water per person in 2010. That might not sound like a lot, but it extrapolates to us spending £1,440 million on the stuff in just one year! Although it’s justifiable to buy sparkling bottled water, 72% of that was on still water.

Bottled or tap water?

I just don’t get it, why are we paying for something we can get perfectly safe from a tap? And I’m not even considering the environmental aspects of producing so many plastic bottles.

A few weeks ago, the Telegraph reported that ‘bottled water contains more bacteria than tap water’. Scientists in Canada found that 70% of bottled water widely available in shops contained high levels of bacteria, often one hundred times more than the permitted level.

Many people might assume that because they’re paying through the nose for it, bottled water is a purer product. Yet, as the above research suggests, this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, it appears drinking tap water may not only be kinder to your wallet and the environment, it could potentially be better for your health.

Do you buy bottled still water?

No (69%, 491 Votes)

Yes (31%, 224 Votes)

Total Voters: 714

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Skinny Liz says:
13 July 2011

The only time I buy bottled water is at the airport for drinking during the flight. I dont have a choice and I resent it!

Some airports have free drinking fountains air side.So you can fill your refillable bottle there.

Francesco says:
22 July 2011

I think a lot depends on how used you are to different waters.
In Italy most people drink bottled water, and you get used to different tastes (yes they really taste different) also the very high consumption in the country means wider choice and lower prices.
Personally I would never stay without my favourite mineral water, even if buying it here means paying four times as much here than in Italy.

We buy bottled water because our tap water in West Lothian leaves an orange deposit on taps and kettles. It is no doubt safe but is never the less off putting.

Dan Jmes says:
3 August 2011

We have had to buy 50 ltrs of bottled water over the past three weeks just so we can have a decent cup of tea— up to now its cost us £10 so lets hope they ain’t much longer At the moment our water is absolutely foul despite the water company saying because it is taken from bore holes it MIGHT HAVE A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT TASTE cor what an understatement that it’s b—-y awful. They are doing repairs to the resevoir and if they make their tea with the same water we have got they wont have many tea breaks. Maybe the job will get done quicker( who am I kidding)— we know many more people are doing the same as we are— the Supermarkets are doing abomb

I first bought bottled water a number of years ago when I started going to a gym. I found drinking tap water was not quenching my thirst! I tried a couple of bottled brands and found one that suits me. I live in Kent, our water is hard and not thirst quenching.

I would like which? to do a feature/report on water filters: jug of various makes, plumbed in cartridge, reverse osmosis, UV, etc.
I use a Brita filter, but only for the kettle and coffee maker, because it seems to reduce the frequency of descaling. However, I am suspicious that it has an ion exchange resin that turns calcium and magnesium salts into sodium salts, which are not so good to drink.

Having spent half an hour trying to work out the answer, I agree that it would be useful to have a report. From what I have read it seems that the Brita filters do use ion exchange. Calcium salts are the cause of limescale and ion exchangers usually replace calcium ions with sodium ions. This information from the Brita website suggests that calcium might be replaced by potassium instead of sodium. Hopefully Brita could advise.

“I am on a potassium restricted diet. Can I drink filtered water?
The filtering process can cause a small increase in water’s potassium level. However, one litre of BRITA filtered water contains less potassium than an apple. If you have kidney disease or watch your potassium intake for other reasons, consult your doctor before using a water filter.”

As someone who has to descale the kettle and coffee maker every month or so, I’d rather do that than mess around with filtering all the water.

We haven’t seen you around here much, Mike, so welcome back.