Should You be Drinking Tap Water or Bottled Water?
Humans are made of at least 60% water. We’ve all familiar with that stat. That’s exactly why we must ensure to keep up our water consumption. But as frugal as it may sound, drinking water can add up, especially if you’re buying bottled water from the supermarket. It’s not your fault though, we’ve been exposed to so many myths and horror stories surrounding tap water but are they really true? In this article, we’re going to explore what drinking water is better for your health, the environment and most importantly, your wallet.
According to Water UK, tap water in the British Isles is one of the safest in the world. To uphold such a high standard, millions of tests are conducted annually by experts. This claim is refuted by many since fluoride and chlorine are added to our water supply; however, this is only used for disinfectant purposes to maintain hygiene conditions. Furthermore, less than 0.5mg/l is used in British tap water despite the WHO guidelines being set at a maximum of 5mg/l. Such minute amounts aren’t enough to cause any real harm.
A Bit About Tap Water
I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wondered where my tap water comes from. Stories as a child have led me to believe that the water from my kitchen sink is recycled urine and faeces but this is further from the truth. Water UK details that a third of tap water in England and Wales derives from underground sources such as aquifers. These are geological layers that hold water, such as sand, gravel and limestone. In Northern Ireland and Scotland, this figure is even less at 6% and 3%. Surface water sources, such as lakes, reservoirs and rivers account for the rest of the supply. At the end of the day, British tap water is as natural as you and I.
Still, as seen through the data above, the quality of water can vary between regions. These variations are defined as hard water and soft water. If you’re situated in a city such as London, you’re more likely to be exposed to hard water, while rural areas like Scotland have soft water. No, this doesn’t mean that rocks and pebbles will be accompanying your daily refreshments but instead refers to the mineral content, including calcium and magnesium.
What’s All This about Hard Water?
While drinking hard water can contribute to your essential daily intake, there are some drawbacks to frequent consumption. The mineral content in tap water can affect your pH balance, which will weaken your skin barrier and make you more susceptible to conditions, including dry scalp and eczema. On the other hand, soft water has a lower mineral content but contains high salt and sodium. This means that soft water has fewer health benefits; however, you’re less likely to find limescale build-up on your appliances and piping when you have soft water running through.
Numerous people swear by bottled water: “Bottle water has a better taste. Bottled water is better for you.” Oh, give it a rest! While this may be the case in the short term, there could be detrimental effects to your health in the long term. This is because you are exposed to harmful toxins in the plastic that leach into the water, including BPA. BPA is an abbreviation of the chemical compound, bisphenol A, which is added to food containers and hygiene products to produce strong and resilient plastics.
BPA poisoning is usually common with older water bottles or those that are exposed to heat for prolonged periods. I mean, we’ve all seen the supermarket cages that are left out in the sun while they’re unloading. Once these toxins enter the bloodstream, you may be susceptible to developing health problems such as cancer, liver and kidney damage. In addition to this, BPA has been linked to a host of chromosomal abnormalities that relate to birth defects and developmental disabilities in children. Scary stuff.
How Much Should You Drink?
According to the NHS, it is recommended to consume at least 1.5 litres a day. By following these recommendations, drinking bottled water will be more expensive in the long run but that’s a no brainer. If you purchase a six-pack of 1.5L water every week at £2.50, then that will equal to £10 a month or £120 a year. In comparison to tap water, the average cost per two litres is around a third of a penny. So for the same nine litres that you’re paying for at your local supermarket, you’ll be paying around 1.5p per week. Result!
Moreover, by cutting out bottled water, there’s the added bonus of doing your bit for the environment. An estimated 2.5 billion plastic water bottles are purchased yearly in the UK alone. When you take into consideration that climate change is a global problem, this figure alone is horrifying. Yes, single-use bottles are recyclable but they carry a carbon footprint of around 249g of CO2 (figure for 1.5L bottle). Even if they are recyclable, most people don’t do their bit anyway! Most plastic bottles end up in landfills, which take up to 700 years to degrade. If they don’t end up there, they end up in our oceans.
Water is essential but it doesn’t have to be a huge expense. You can drink tap water while still providing your body with the nutritional benefits that it needs to operate. On top of that, there are environmental advantages too! Let us know in the comments below whether you’ll be swapping out bottled water for tap water in the future. If not, why?