reusablebottle.jpg Bottled water might look like a harmless purchase. After all, the plastic is recyclable, right? But out of the 42.6 billion single-serving bottles Americans buy each year, 80 percent of those end up in a landfill or incinerator. Not to mention the astronomical cost of bottled water. In California, tap water costs $1.60 per 1000 gallons, while retail bottled water costs $0.90 per gallon. That’s a price difference of 560-fold when purchasing bottled water over tap.

Bottled vs. tap

Well, ok, but isn’t bottled water better for us? What about the radon in tap water and the weird metals and the government plot to use Fluoride to control our minds? The fact of the matter is, bottled water isn’t magically better. Consumer Reports stated that many bottled water companies don’t even label where their bottled water is from or how it is treated. “The Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] requires community water systems to divulge the source of their drinking water in an annual Consumer Confidence Report,” Consumers Reports explained. “But bottled water makers aren’t required to disclose where their water comes from, how it was treated, or what contaminants it might contain. Disclosure is purely voluntary (except in California). And the bottled stuff is subject to a less stringent safety standard than tap water.” Furthermore, a study by the General Accounting Office reported that the regulation of bottled water under the Food and Drug Administration’s Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act is more lenient than the Environmental Protection Agency’s tap water regulations. That study was from 2009. In 2010, the EPA released newer and even more stringent guidelines to make sure our water is clean and drinkable. Still picky about your water? Use a home filter. Your most convenient option is going to be to buy a faucet-mounted filter. That eliminates the hassle of having to keep a supply of filtered water on hand ahead of time.

So when you’re on the go, what do you do?

Find a safe, reusable water bottle that is BPA-free (BPA has been linked to reproductive problems, an increased risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes and heart disease), is high quality and is easy to clean. One of the more interesting types of bottles is the kind with filters built right into the bottle. You fill it up at a fountain and it filters water for you on the go. Some of the styles include the Bobble Mini, the CamelBak Groove and the Hydros. All state they are BPA-free. You can read some reviews of them here. If you don’t want something with a fancy filter, your options for reusable water bottles are seemingly endless. There are many, many water bottles on the market, but not all of them actually hold water well, for some reason. (Seems weird, considering that was the one thing they were created to do.) However, Good Housekeeping did a lot of the footwork for us. They rated 32 BPA-free water bottles and assigned them grades. The cream of the crop, in their opinion? The Contigo Autospout Addison Water Bottle, seconded by the CamelBak Groove Bottle and third place holds the CamelBak Better Bottle. They all rated highly on ease of use, durability, leak and spill resistance, comfort when holding and being dishwasher safe. From there the grades slip out of the A+ range. For people who are sticklers about getting their water bottle clean, an interesting product is the Clean Bottle. The top and bottom come off for maximum cleaning ease. The manufacturer states that these are also BPA-free. If you want to avoid plastic all together (personally, I think it can make water taste like a plastic doll exploded in the bottle), manufactures are making some real strides with reusable glass bottles. The Pure glass bottle is such a product. It boasts a “Safe-Shell” coating that holds the bottle together if it ever shatters, reducing the risk of injury greatly.

So what about aluminum bottles?

Consumer Reports stated that some can still contain an epoxy resin that releases more BPA into the water than some plastic bottles, so that’s something to be mindful of in your bottle search. Uncoated stainless steel bottles like Sigg brand bottles might be your best bet, according to Consumer Reports. Other alternative options Consumer Reports listed were, “Plastic bottles made of Tritan copolyester (brand tested was Nalgene)… [and] aluminum bottles lined with EcoCare copolyester (brand tested was Sigg).” And remember, if you’re done with your reusable bottle (even they break and go bad eventually), check with your local recycling center or collector to see if they take the material your bottle is made of. Odds are they will. It would defeat the eco-friendly purpose to just throw it away.