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Why Not Bottled Water?
Photo: James Meyer
Bottled water is going through a bad patch. Some condemn it as environmentally unsound. Cities are outlawing it. Others claim tap water is just as good for anything you can use bottled water for.
Do not throw the baby out with the (bottled) bathwater, however. Choosing bottled water from the beverage list at a restaurant, over having them bring you a glass from the tap is an exercise in conspicuous consumption. Yet bottled water has its place. No one should feel embarrassed about using it when appropriate.

What advantages does bottled water have over tap water? 

It is storable. You can put a case of bottled water in a closet, or the trunk of your car, and forget about it for a week – or six months. That means little when the electricity and car are running and your faucets work. It makes a big difference when storms knock out your electricity or your car breaks down leaving you stranded on a hot summer day.

If you live through a hurricane or earthquake, you might find yourself without a safe supply of water for up to a week. You can fill basins and gallon jugs from your sink, but that assumes you get a warning. You would also need to treat that water if you plan to store it more than a few days. It is simpler to get a few cases of bottled water at the beginning of hurricane season, and have it at hand.

It is portable. You can put that screw-top bottled water in your car, your backpack, or your boat, or wherever, and forget about it until you need it. You need not to worry about tipping it over, the way you would with a pitcher, or having it leak the way a reused milk jug will, if you tip it over.

It is sanitary. Share a canteen with someone and you may share more than water. Use a jug and you need cups. They either need to be cleaned afterwards or tossed. Bottled water is individually portioned and when consumed within a reasonable time after opening, is clean and sanitary.

It is convenient. You do not have to do a lot of cleanup before or afterwards. With canteens, water jugs, or pitchers, you need to clean them before using. Use cups and you have to wash up afterwards. Disposable cups create almost as much waste as water in disposable bottles.

Under normal circumstances – at home, at work, at a restaurant – if you want water, tap water is just fine.  Fill up a pitcher and put it in fridge. Fill a glass from a drinking fountain. Ask the waiter for a glass of water. It is just as wet, and costs less than bottled water.

But if you are in a situation where using bottled water makes sense – use it. When convenience and safety dictate, choose cheap, generic bottled water and drink it without guilt.

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By Mark N. Lardas, copyright 2007, Mark N. Lardas, all rights reserved.  Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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