Eco-Nutrition Debate Between Bottled or Tap Water: The Winner Is?

This article is part of a series on Eco-Nutrition: integrating nutrition choices with ecological sustainability. For the introduction on the series read “Eco-Nutrition on Earth Day”.

Bottled or Tap Water: What to drink?

Our eco-nutrition global question: “How to combine good nutrition and protection of our precious environment?”

The word here in France is that our drinking water supply has one of the highest rates of pesticides in Europe. This is why at our house we have drunk bottled water for years. But every time I dump another water bottle into the recycling bin I think,

Am I doing the right thing using all these water bottles? Is there another option to avoid environmental hazards in our drinking water but do the best for the environment?

After reading some reports on the drinking and bottled water supply where we live, I have come to the conclusion: neither bottled nor tap water is fully safe to drink. So reassuring to know, makes me feel at ease to keep filling up the water jug (kidding!). We are ruining our environment and health at the same time by consistently throwing water bottles in the bin and potentially by drinking our tap water that has residues from other run off pollutions in the environment. What are the options? Here is my view and some questions for you to ponder.

Is using tap water our best overall eco-nutrition choice because we use less plastic bottles? Do we give up some health benefits by drinking tap water?

Or should we drink bottled water to avoid the negative environmental cocktail in our drinking supply and hope that our recycling efforts pay off for our environmental mistakes?

The winner on the bottled or tap water debate is:

No one!

The only winner for the right choice is an educated consumer.

Statistics on the environmental side effects of plastic bottles

It is staggering when you read how many plastic bottles get thrown in landfills worldwide, and this is just a start of the environmental side effects.

  • plastic bottles are not always recyclable
  • takes hundreds of years for a plastic bottle to disintegrate in the nature
  • transport of bottled water throughout the world leaves a big carbon footprint
  • use of petrol and gas to make plastic bottles
  • large majority of plastic water bottles are not recycled due to human habits
  • and this is just the start. For more facts on the environment and water bottles Click here.

Health importance of drinking clean water

We have no choice, we have to drink water. In fact, water should be the number one drinking source for liquids and be the option to offer to our children in place of juice, milk or other fizzy soda drinks. But the reality is that our drinking water is not fully clean and it depends on where you live and if you have a private well water on how safe your water really is. An educated consumer is an obligation to keep our drinking water options for our community and personal use in the spotlight.

Here are the main considerations on the negative presence of pollution in our drinking water. Click on the word to find out more:

The result of  pollution in our water may be appropriately named an environmental synergy cocktail in our water supply. This cocktail, a mix of various type pollutants has unknown results on the long-term effects, but studies have shown direct negative implications in certain populations who are at a high endocrine developmental stage (pregnancy, infants and teenagers). A good article on health effects of drinking polluted water can be found here:  “Health Effects of Drinking Water Contaminants.”

Other considerations

  • populations undergoing a big developmental or high growth phase are more at risk for environmental endocrine disturbers:  pregnant and breastfeeding women, infants and teenagers
  • cost of drinking bottled water: 100-200 times more expensive than tap water
  • essential minerals such as calcium and magnesium present in certain bottled waters can help with dietary balance
  • plastic by-products can leak out from the water bottle into the water especially when bottle is kept in wrong conditions: (our bad habit is drinking water from opened water bottles that have been kept in a hot car for more than 24 hours, a big no-no)
  • taste of the water, some swear by the good taste of their preferred brand of bottled water
  • access to safe water supply: private well versus city water supply

What is the right choice for you and your home?

The main questions to ask yourself for your decision on whether to drink tap or bottled are the following:

  • who is drinking the water? pregnancy, babies and teens have special considerations and must avoid environmental hazards
  • a detailed report from your water company. If you live in America in a large city, click here for a good link to find out about your city’s water supply. Unfortunately, some water pollutants such as medicines in the tap water are not regulated.
  • do you have a private well for drinking water? Has it been checked for pollutants and safety?
  • can we continue to put endless numbers of plastic bottles in our environment or can each of us do our small part?
  • and what else do you think?

After consideration of all the factors, we have made a new step at our house: we are starting to drink tap water again. My kids are not super happy about this; they do not like the taste of our tap water (usually due to chlorine in the water). My solution is to put lemon slices in the water to help the taste. We will continue to buy bottled sparkling water, which we love to drink also. This compromise makes everyone happy and makes us feel we are doing our small part towards the environment. Finally, we are also going to buy a high-class water filter.

Is using a water filter a good health and environment alternative?

A good quality water filter to cleanse tap water from pollutants is something I consider a very important investment. This is another step towards the environment while trying to keep our water and health safe . There are just too many water bottles in the landfills. I feel guilty to add to these numbers, what about you?

After reading my view on tap versus water bottles, what is your view? If you got something useful out of this article, why not pass it along to a friend? We appreciate your support and hope you come back to continue reading more on eco-nutrition.

If you read in French, here is an excellent scientific report published by the World Wide Fund for Nature, France on bottled versus tap water. If I find the report in English I will post it here. Here is French version: “Eau de Boisson.” A must read especially if you live in France or drink French bottled water.

Update: We have purchased a Brita Elemaris water filter jug and have been using it for about a week. My daughter states that the water tastes even better from the Brita filter than our usual bottled waters. Here is a link to what we purchased. It Europe it is sold under Brita company (located in Germany) and in America sold under Mavea, a subsidiary of Brita parent company. Click on the link to order one; depending on what country you live in you will be directed to Amazon site to order from your country. We are not disappointed and feel great to do our small part for the environment.

If you are interested in a home water filter system, you can click on this link for further information: (note this is an affiliate link)

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20 Responses to “Eco-Nutrition Debate Between Bottled or Tap Water: The Winner Is?”

  1. Michele Redmond May 18, 2012 at 18:53 Reply

    Thanks for the great summary. The plastic numbering system provides some guidance for avoiding plastics that leach undesirable chemicals. This link provides a nice overview.

    I drink filtered tap water and have tried to avoid plastics with BPA (bisphenol A) so I drink out of a plastic nalgene bottle. However, it has the recycling number is 7 which can include plastics containing BPA, so you are stuck with trusting the company (I use a Nathan brand bottle) when they state “No BPA”. Here’s a short review of 3 types of plastic bottle concerns and their recycling symbols.

    • Michele, very valuable information. Now that we have made the move to go to tap water our next step is to find good bottles to hold water in for ‘on the road.’ Your advice and links are very important. Thank you very much. It is not easy to find information like this and appreciate all the feedback from readers.

  2. Mary, thank you for the helpful and useful article. There’s no doubt that drinking purified water is the best choice for overall health (and sometimes safety) so making the right choice for you home and family can be helped via the info you’ve shared. Thanks!


  1. Alton Gayle - May 22, 2012

    Eco-Nutrition Debate Between Bottled or Tap Water: The Winner Is …: The environmental impact of water bottles …

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    […] buy less bottled water and use filtered water for drinking (if you want to read more on this, click here). If you have access to Vichy water, you can use it as a substitute for tap water in this dish or […]

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