Thursday, July 16, 2009

6 Bottled Water Alternatives

Bottled water is a greenies worst nightmare. The plastic bottles take a lot of energy and resources to make and the bottles aren't always recycled. Especially in areas that don’t have municipal recycling programs.

That goes double for soda, which can contain artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup.

If you buy water that’s packaged in an aluminum can or glass bottle or are diligent about recycling or find a creative reuse for that plastic bottle you’re good, right? Well, maybe not because the problems don’t stop with the packaging.

A recent government report found that the Food & Drug Administration's (FDA) rules for bottled water are less strict than the Environment Protection Agency's (EPA) strict rules for municipal water (tap water.) Bottle water companies aren’t required to disclose to the public what is in the water they are selling or where they get it, which more often than not is the bottling plant's local tap water. That gives me cause for concern.

Fortunately there are alternatives to bottled water (or should I call it much more expensive tap water?) These methods will save you money too.

1. Water glass – This one’s simple and cheap, yet, nobody mentions it as an option. Grab a glass from the cupboard and fill it up with water. I often bring a glass from home for the office and use that to drink water at my desk. When the glass gets dirty, I wash it out in the sink at work or at home.

2. Pitcher of refrigerator water – Prefer your water ice cold? I do. I fill up a container with tap water and put it in the refrigerator. Here’s an example of the containers I use.


A #5 Rubbermaid drink container (plastic number #2 and #5 are the safer plastics that don’t leach into your food), a glass Williams Sonoma pitcher, and a Brita water pitcher (which I use without the filter because I got lazy about changing it.)

3. Filter it yourself – I’ll admit that there are places where city water may be tested and deemed safe to drink but tastes a little odd, has scale, or gives you uh, gastric distress (hi well water my tummy’s talking to you.) If thats the case, filter it yourself. On the lower end of the coast scale (or if you rent) there are pitchers and water bottles with built in water filters (like my Brita pitcher.) At the upper end of the cost scale is installing a whole house water purification system. Personally my city water tastes fine without filtering, (as always, your mileage may vary) so I don’t have much personal experience with choosing which water filter works best for which situation, but this water filter comparison chart is a pretty good place to start.

4. Reusable water bottles – I’ll admit that bottled water is convenient. Especially when I’m out and about or have a couple of thirsty kids around who tend to knock over or drop glasses full water. When I have kid visitors I fill up a bunch of water bottles and put them in the refrigerator. Then the kiddoes can easily grab a cold one when they want it. I’m getting better about bringing my own water bottle to outdoor events thanks to the economy. I find that if I don’t have to buy a beverage; I have a few extra dollars in my pocket to squander on the BIG funnel cake! As you can see in the photo, we have quite a collection of water bottles – even Blitzkrieg has his own water bottle with a dog dish attached!


Like most things Condo, some of our bottles are a little pricey like the BPA-free KOR one (I reviewed the KOR one here ) and stainless steel Earthlust bottle (I reviewed Earthlust here.) Some are not, like the white freebie #2 plastic water bottle Husband got in a race pack. We keep it because it’s #2 plastic and it’s much more practical to use in the water bottle carrier on our bikes.

Don’t think that all swanky stainless steel/BPA-free reusable water bottles are out of your price range. Market demand means the prices are coming down. I recently saw stainless steel reusable water bottle for sale at CVS for $3.99.

5. Big water jug/cooler for groups – When Husband and I are picnicking, traveling, or with a group we use this large water jug made of #5 plastic.


This works well for our family of 3. Bigger families may want to consider the large drink coolers with the spout on the bottom. There are glass and metal options available if you look around a bit. Sure, the large coolers aren’t cheap (OK, mine was fairly cheap. It was an Big Lots special because Rubbermaid discontinued it) but once you make the one time purchase, it will pay for itself in the amount of money you save because you don’t have to keep buying expensive bottled drinks for events.

6. Make your own sparkling water - Husband likes fizzy water. It’s one of the main ingredients of his homemade Orangina. We’ve given it up because of the bottle waste (sad, I know.) Apparently there are ways that you can make your own carbonated water from tap water with gadgets like the Soda Stream system. I haven’t personally tried one, but it interests me and it’s something that’s on my To Investigate Further list. The Soda Stream might solve our fizzy bottled water problem. It might also help us to reduce soda bottle waste and cost when we have guests because it allows you to make your soda too. If anyone’s tried one please me know your thoughts!

I’d be a total hypocrite if I said that I never drink bottled water because, on occasion, I have. On those rare occasions when I can’t bring or refill my own reusable water bottle from home and don’t want to drink soda (pretty much annually after doing Race for the Cure.) That makes the fact that the FDA doesn't require full disclosure of bottled water even more disturbing. However, by using the 6 methods above I’m able to make plastic bottle drinks a rare occasion.

However, I’m also proud to say, that 99% of the time, I’m a tap water gal. What about you?

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mrs green said...

We filter it here with a simple jug filter. If the filter needs replacing, I just boil up tap water (we have a lot of chlorine), put it in a jog and let it cool.

yes, occasionally I buy bottled water - I try to buy in glass; at least I can recycle it properly or if we buy in plastic, we reuse the bottle around 10 times.

I try to combine ethics with health. i would n't drink it neat from the tap, but I know many do - it's whatever works for the individual :)

Cathy said...

great ideas--i'm good about bringing my own bottle but need to cut back on my diet soda intake. :)

Nik said...

Kicking the bottled water habit is great! Filtering water is easy and saves tons of money. If you're worried about chlorine, you can leave water out in an open container and the chlorine will evaporate. Thanks for posting the bit about SodaStream - I don't drink any bottled water and always use my stainless steel water bottle, but I love seltzer and was trying to figure out how to kick the habit of buying seltzer at the store. I would love to make my own and flavor and bottle it myself! If anyone is interested in learning more about bottled water and supporting tap water, check out

They're an awesome campaign that I've been following for about a year and they're doing some amazing work to stop the corporate abuse of water.

mudnessa said...

My tap water tastes DISGUSTING. I have a faucet filter and for a household of two the filter lasts us around 6 months. I have tried both Britta and Pur pitchers and faucet filters and found Pur's 3 stage faucet filter to make the best tasting water, or in reality the least tasting water. Britta was drinkable but only cold and we prefer our water room temp.

I bought a few larger bottles of Voss water in glass bottles and re-use them for iced tea, lemonades, juices, all sorts of homemade drinks.

My husband loves Honest Tea and Sweet Tea, both come in glass bottles and we recycle the majority of them. I also have a few set aside to hold drinks as well.

Green Bean said...

I'm all about the tap. At other people's homes, I drink straight from the tap and, here, at home, we have ours filtered.

I will admit, though, that a few bottles of honey root beer or agave soda slip into our fridge from time to time, though.

Robj98168 said...

I'm with you on the 99%. I rarely ever drink bottled water and rarely bottled soda. If I do It is the 2 litre size and yes I make topsy turveys out of the empties. I have a reusable stainless steel water bottle, a brita filter that I fill a safe-plastic water dispenser with, for cold water in the fridge. I like to make italian sodas so there is the 2 litre soda bottle. Of course I eat tomatoes so there is the solution!

Robj98168 said...

PS- I have my muggsly - A pure stainless steel mug, at most times and use that to get a drink of water from the ice maker at work.

Morgan said...

I love my Brita! It's worth paying that one time for the money you save. I'm trying to break my habit of bottled water buying,'s a hard one to break. I am working on it!

I have some reusable glass water bottles that we fill with the filtered water so we don't have to wait for it to filter through and that seems to be going well so far...

Like always, such an informative blog. You have such a prepared household, it's amazing to me!


Lisa said...

Great blog!

Also the Soda Club soda maker is AWESOME!!!!!!!!! :)

Tammy said...

You might be interested to read about a small town nearby, Bundanoon, (In Australia) who have recently banned the sale of bottled water.,27574,25754710-5019059,00.html

Amy said...

Ooh, I want to carbonate my own water now! What a cool product. Thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

We make Bottled Quality Water from our Tap with some filters and a water cooler we found at

door handles said...

I agree haha, its amazing how simlple things can work really well for us all. I am need of some health tricks myself.

Thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts with you all.


emcnick said...

I think these are great ideas! I would love to have a jug like the one pictured - can you tell me what brand it is or where you purchased it? I am having a hard time finding ways to carry large amounts of water while I'm out and about with the family. Many Thanks!!

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