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How to save money on bottled water

Is bottled water a waste of money?

Many would disagree because tap water can taste so awful. Bottled water is big business - we spend around 2 billion pounds a year on it, and according to The Guardian we use nearly 36 million plastic bottles a day - that's a lot of plastic, about 275,000 tons in all. However, how does the cost stack up?

We did a survey recently and the cheapest bottled water that we could find came from Tesco, and it worked out at a cost of 24p a litre. This wasn't 20 million year old water from a north pole glacier, filtered through a billion tons of porous rock, (which costs a LOT more) but ordinary tap water which had been filtered in a factory, then put into plastic bottles. This means that if someone drinks a litre a day, which is not a great deal, the monthly cost would be £7.20 a month, or £86.40 a year. Remember, these figures are based on a fairly low consumption of the very cheapest bottled water available.

We compared that to the cost of filtering water at home, and we've based our calculations on the Brita water filter, because it seems the most popular. A pack of 12 Brita Maxtra filters, which should last a year, is for sale on Amazon at around £28. OK, you have to buy a filter jug as well, and a reasonable one can be bought for about £12. This means that your total cost for the first year is £40, or less than half the cost of bottled water, with an even bigger saving once the jug has paid for itself.

This is assuming, however, that only about 30 litres of water is filtered each month. Subject to tap water quality a single Brita Maxtra filter (which should be changed monthly) should be able to handle 200 litres. So, the cost of those extra 170 litres per month is virtually free, which means that other members of the family can enjoy it, and you can have your tea and coffee made with filtered water too. If you've ever tasted the difference between tea made by chlorinated water and that made with filtered water, you'd never go back to the 'straight-from-the-tap variety!

That isn't the only cost of the bottled variety though. Every year around two thirds of the discarded bottles are not recycled so they end up in landfill, or littering our streets, open spaces and rivers. The environmental cost is terrific.

Doesn't bottled water taste better?

That's a matter of opinion. Water is the same compound, whether it was created at the dawn of time or in a laboratory half an hour ago. The difference in taste comes from minerals which are dissolved in the water. Some of these may taste OK, some may be absolutely awful. A number may be positively detrimental to health .Back in 1990, a batch of Perrier Water, for instance, was found some time ago to contain Benzine, which is reckoned to be carcinogenic. The brand has never completely recovered from that. Tap water, however, goes through numerous tests daily to ensure that it's safe to drink. If you then filter it it's even safer.

Doesn't bottled water contain essential elements?

Yes, it usually contains a number of elements but they are not necessarily good for you.Tap water does, too. The filter manufacturers insist that the main ones, at least, are not removed by the fitration process.

Can you re-use the bottles that the water comes in?

The manufacturers say 'no' but they would wouldn't they. As prestigious an entity as Cancer Research UK thinks otherwise. Use sensible hygiene precautions and don't use one for too long and you should be OK.

The bottom line

Filtering your own water is far more economical than buying bottled, and it's better for the environment too. What more could you wish for.
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