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Bottled Water Is Draining Your Bank Account
You don't often think of bottled water along the same lines as smoking, drinking alcohol or gambling. But when it comes to wasting money, it's just as bad a habit. Most people don't consider drinking bottled water a bad habit because they have come to believe that it is healthier for them than tap water. While this may be true in some countries where the water supply is not clean and safe, it isn't true for those living in the U.S.


The bottled water you are drinking may come from the same place as the the water you're already paying for. If the package label indicates it is "purified," then chances are it originates from a municipal water supply. PepsiCo (PEP) recently admitted its Aquafina, the top-selling bottled water sold in the U.S., originates from "public water sources" -- or tap water. The company says it removes chlorides, salts and other substances that can affect a water's taste.


Dasani, the second-leading bottled water in the U.S. from Coca-Cola (KO) , also originally comes from public water sources, meaning that at least 24% of bottled water originally comes from good old tap water.


Tap water is highly regulated and monitored for quality -- much more so than bottled water. Bottled water can legally contain many more chemicals than tap water because it is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, as opposed to the Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates tap water.


While bottled water doesn't contain dioxins -- an urban myth that has been circulating around the Internet for years -- it isn't necessarily better for you than tap water. Phthalates are chemicals that are sometimes added to the plastic water bottles to make them more flexible and last longer. Phthalates are known environmental contaminants and act as endocrine disruptors in humans and animals and can leech into your water from the plastic bottle if it isn't stored properly.


In addition, bottled water has a number of detrimental effects on the environment. Unlike tap water, which you already get at your house, bottled water needs to be shipped across the country or even the world, wasting fossil fuels in its transport. Even water that is bottled from local public water sources still needs to be transported to the retail outlets where it is sold.


In addition, there is a huge amount of plastic waste from water bottles. It takes 1.5 million barrels of oil just to make the plastic used for bottled water each year, which is enough energy to power 100,000 cars for a year. It is estimated that nearly 90% of the plastic from bottled water is never recycled and ends up in landfills or the ocean.


How do you kick the bottled water habit? It's as simple as starting to drink tap water, which costs vastly less than bottled water. Tap water costs fractions of a penny per gallon -- about 0.2 cents -- while bottled water costs anywhere from 99 cents to $4 per gallon -- thousands of times more expensive than tap water.


If you drink bottled water three times a day and buy it from a vending machine for $1 a bottle, switching to tap water will save you over $1,000 a year. Even if you buy your bottled water in bulk, you will save several hundred dollars a year by switching to tap water.


Even knowing the information about bottled and tap water, many people still won't switch because they feel their tap water has a strange smell or taste. If you have concerns that your tap water may be contaminated in some way, you can find specific information about your water supply at the National Tap Water Quality Database.


A basic water filter also can address smell and taste concerns at a fraction of the cost of bottled water. There is no reason to spend hundreds of dollars on a filter system. A basic Brita water filter should work just fine and costs less than $20.


There is even an inexpensive solution for people who prefer bottled water for its portability -- to drink while backpacking or traveling internationally -- or as a safeguard in case of a disaster or to treat groundwater. At just under $40, the Katadyn Exstream Personal Water Bottle Purifier is a lightweight solution to packing or keeping a lot of bottled water.


If the financial and environmental reasons aren't enough, again -- bottled water doesn't provide better water. Kick this bad habit and enjoy the extra money in your bank account.

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