Updated: May 15
I think it is safe to say most people agree that drinking water is important to your health and eventual aging process. But is all water created equal? Well, that is a complex question. And making a decision in the best interest of your family may not necessarily be an easy one.
When it comes to water, the choices abound.
Take bottled water for instance. There is certainly enough out there to choose from. There’s purified, mineral, sparkling, glacier, alkaline, hydrogen, artisan, distilled and more. Each with their own advertising platforms and list of rationales why you should pick them as your go-to water. Some even claim health benefits such as slowing down the aging process and the prevention of cancer.
Spring water is definitely one of the more popular options. It comes from the underground and is a natural source of organic elements such as magnesium, potassium and calcium. However, it is raw, unfiltered and not judiciously regulated by the federal government, so beware of the labels. Do your research to make sure that what you are drinking is truly water from a spring and not just filtered, or un-filtered, tap water.
“We don’t believe that consumers are confused
about the source of Dasani water.
The label clearly states that it is purified water,”
– Diana Garza Ciarlante, Coca-Cola spokeswoman
Bottled water is a gazillion-dollar industry. How can it not be when Americans buy more than 500,000,000 bottles of water every week! Every grocery, convenience and corner variety store are stocked with bottled water options. Why is that? When did we go from portable Perrier in the 70s to the mass market of one-time drink-on-the-go preferences available today?
The ‘Story of Stuff’ has an idea why that might be. This website challenges the consumer-crazed culture we currently live in. In 2010 they launched a short film to educate people of the true cost of bottled water. The mission of this noble campaign is “to protect access to clean, safe, affordable drinking water for people – not for profit.” This film is only eight minutes or so, but what I learned blew my mind. So much so that my family no longer has bottled water stocked “just in case” in our pantry. We’ve made the commitment to consistently choose better environmentally friendly options when it comes to our portable water. But don’t take it from me. Watch for yourself – and please, invite the whole family!
I have to confess, I had convinced myself that the few plastic products I did purchase was always placed responsibly in a recycling bin. But the truth is, recycling plastics is an utterly problematic process, and as a result too much ends up in landfill sites. Not to mention the amount that sits at the side of the road by careless humans not bothering to find a garbage can or recycling bin.
“It cannot be right to manufacture billions of objects
that are used for a matter of minutes,
and then are with us for centuries.”
– Roz Savage, Ocean Rower, Speaker, Author
This brings us to good old tap water. So much back and forth when it comes to the water that comes from your faucet. From the quality and length of pipe it has to travel through to reach your sink, to the amount of chemicals like chlorine, added to make it safe for consumption. Because of construction, agriculture, mining and other human activities, regular tap water can contain organic compounds and other contaminants like lead, plastic, pesticide residue and pharmaceuticals. Yum!
But I must be fair. Water is supplied, controlled and regulated by various levels within the government. There are enough examples of worst-case horror scenarios, like the Flint Water Crisis in Michigan, USA and the Walkerton Water Crisis in Ontario, Canada. It is because of unfortunate occurrences like these that progressive enhancements in safety measures are made. In Canada for instance, there are comprehensive regulatory programs in place. These include standardized inspections of water treatment plants, along with the mandatory monitoring and reports on water quality. In addition, staff involved have extensive requirements for training and certification. In case you're not aware, the water quality testing results are available to anyone who requests it. So go check it out. There's a pretty good chance that your tap water is safe to drink - and think of the money you'll save not buying something that flows freely from your tap.
Well water is a whole other ball game, one that I know personally. Like spring water, It is raw and untreated; but it is fresh, convenient, and comes with no monthly water charges – just annual maintenance costs. However, it is important to ensure that ongoing, the well water is suitable for drinking. There are many variables that can affect the health of your well, so have it tested regularly for bacteria, nitrates and pH levels.
So, let’s say you’ve made a commitment to stay away from bottled water. What if you still don’t trust the tap or your well? You could boil your water. Temperatures above 185° Fahrenheit (85° Celsius) kill most pathogens within minutes. This is the cheapest way to purify water provided it is not heavily contaminated with things like lead, pesticides, nitrates and other such chemicals.
You can also consider investing in a water filtration system. These can vary in a variety of price tags and ongoing financial commitments but are definitely worth the time to research further. Millions of people use an ‘activated’ Charcoal Filtration System. Reverse Osmosis is my personal choice and one of the more higher quality water options; along with Water Ionizers and Ultraviolet Water Purification Systems. They all have their pros and cons but will substantially improve the quality of regular tap or well water.
You may already have a water system in place, so you’re on the right track. The abundant health benefits of maintaining your hydration levels, as described in April is for Aqua, come from drinking enough water. Tap water is better than no water, and a filtration system would enhance that even further - consider it an investment in your health.
But truly, any water is good for you, provided it’s safe. In many cases, that includes the water found in bottles. But plastic is not healthy, not cost effective and simply bad for the environment and the future of the planet. Last February, my family and I went to the Florida Keys and toured The Turtle Hospital in Marathon, seeing first hand the repercussions of what we humans are doing to our oceans and her essential wildlife. Turtles, we discovered eat just about anything. But their digestive system was not meant to break down synthetics such as plastic. The result is that they become impacted, which causes intestinal blockages and they eventually starve to death.
“We are living on the planet as if we have another one to go to.”
– Terry Swearingen
Registered Nurse - awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize 1997
True, there are communities (even within North America), and countries all over the world which don’t have access to safe water, and therefore alternative water sources are necessary. More and more there are alternatives to plastic - including glass, cans and even boxed water options. But it is a temporary bandaid to a critical issue.
It is crucial we find a permanent resolution – everyone should have the right to access clean drinking water. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have that choice. So instead of buying a one-time dose of H2O encased in plastic, invest in reusable, BPA-free water bottles. Fill it with whatever you want and take it wherever you need to go. For the sake of yourself, and those yet to enjoy this beautiful planet we call home.