Drinking Bottled Water - Is the Extra Convenience Worth The Cost?
Published 11/30/07 (Modified 3/8/11)
Ah water...the lifeblood of the planet, covering more than 70 percent of Earth. It falls from the sky for free and trickles out of the tap at a simple twist of the knob - yet many of us choose to pay for it in bottled form, myself included.
Bottle water isn't cheap either. It frequently costs the same if not more than other drinks. Whoever came up with the idea of packaging and marketing something that could be obtained for free is an absolute genius. It's not like the bottle water contents been fortified with nutrition or vitamins either. Many brands of water are simply that - plain old water. The source of the water is frequently the same as that available through the tap.
Quality-Wise, Bottled Water Is Not Necessarily Better Than Free Tap Water
The bottled water you buy at your grocery store usually comes from mountain aquifers or underground wells. However, unless you examine the labels carefully, many simply contain purified water, which is essentially plain old tap water that has been treated further. However, there is a misconception that bottled water is better because it's gone thorough extra filtration steps. That is not necessarily the case. There are currently no uniform standards governing the filtration of commercially sold bottled water. In fact, public municipal and city water treatment plants frequently have much more rigorous treatment procedures and quality assurance standards than that required by commercial brands.
Why Drink Bottled Water Then? For Convenience!
But there's no denying that the greatest benefit of drinking bottled water is the convenience factor. Out for an errand? Grab a plastic bottle and stash it for later. It's just a very handy way to have something refreshing to drink while on the go. Healthy humans are supposed to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day and many don't consume enough. Switching to bottled water promotes and encourages more water drinking in my opinion. I drink much more water than I used to now that I've switched to bottled water. Before, I used to consume bottled drinks like coke or sugar laden sodas because they were the most convenient source of liquids. Now I have a much healthier option.
Yes it does sound strange to pay for something you could easily get for free but what I give up, I get back through time saved and better health. I used to consume tons of sugar, but switching to bottled water has cut down my soda drinking substantially. No more glass washing or relying on expensive Brita or Pur water filters either.
Encouraging Bottled Water Drinking Seems Counter To Conventional Frugality Concepts
I think the vast majority of personal finance advisers and bloggers promote cutting things like bottled water and expensive coffee habits from one's daily routine. I sort of agree on the coffee, but I think the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to bottled water. Of course you shouldn't pay $6 for a pack of 24 waters, or $4 for a single jug of the expensive stuff. After all, water is water. What I am willing to extra more for is not for any extra boost in quality, since I think the consistency of water is all the same. What I am willing to pay the extra small premium for is the convenience and promotion of healthy consumption habits that it provides.
I always buy bottled water in bulk and try to snag deals when waters are at $2 or so for a pack of 24. Although I don't have Costco membership anymore, they do have one of the best deals for bulk pallets of water - something like $2.50 for a pack of 32 bottles!