bad to the last drop

I’m not a big fan of bottled water and I rarely buy it, but I haven’t given it a whole lot of thought either. Tom Standage on the other hand, who happens to be technology editor for The Economist, has given it a great deal of thought. In his New York times article he writes about a water taste test he conducted with some friends to see if anyone could distinguish tap water from bottled water. Only one person guessed correctly.

He claims that bottled water doesn’t taste any different and has about the same amount of additives and bacteria as tap water, and yet people are willing to pay exorbitant amounts for it. In fact, you may be surprised to find that bottled water costs more than gasoline.

The article hasn’t really changed my mind about bottled water because as I already said, I don’t buy it to begin with. For those of you who do read it, you may want to try a taste test.

Standage concludes by saying, “If you don’t believe me about the taste, then set up a tasting, and see if you really can tell the difference. A water tasting is fun, and you may be surprised by the results. There is no danger of a hangover.”

Update: Another downside of bottled water is the waste that it creates.


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  1. I’ve always rolled my eyes at the people who always have their bottle with them. For some reason, teenage girls in high school were especially guilty. In their defense though, I know some just want to have water available to them when they please, and it’s hard to find a tap long enough to follow you around town.

    Comment by Cameron on August 2, 2005 @ 9:05 pm
  2. I think it’s a great idea to have water with you to stay hydrated, but I prefer not to pay for it.

    Comment by dan on August 2, 2005 @ 9:07 pm
  3. I, too, wonder about the prevalence of bottled water. But, it does provide an alternative to soda which is full of sugar and such. So, there’s still some value. I, too, would rather not pay for water and try to avoid paying for it whenever possible.

    Comment by Russ on August 2, 2005 @ 9:44 pm
  4. They do make these nifty things called ‘water bottles’ that let you carry water from your tap with you in a container far nicer than the cheap ones bottled water comes in. Of course, you lose the convenience of being able to toss the container in a trash can when you’re finished, but you do get the warm fuzzy feeling from knowing that you didn’t contribute that extra bit of plastic to the landfill.

    Comment by Levi on August 3, 2005 @ 9:24 am
  5. They also make these nifty things called ‘recycle bins’ that give you a warm feeling from knowing that the plastic water bottle that you threw in there conveniently will not contribute to the landfill. ;)

    Comment by dan on August 3, 2005 @ 11:11 am
  6. We only drink bottled water where I live because our water is from a well and it contains sulfur which tastes bad and smells like rotten eggs at times.

    Comment by Chad on August 3, 2005 @ 11:25 am
  7. That’s the best reason I’ve heard yet. If your water smells like rotten eggs, bottled water is the way to go.

    Comment by dan on August 3, 2005 @ 11:30 am
  8. Apparently the people who did these taste tests don’t live in the Phoenix area, because you would have to have lost all your taste buds not to notice the difference between Phoenix tap water and purified water. That being said, I personally have a hard time distinguishing Phoenix tap water from Arrowhead bottled water. Reverse osmosis water is the way to go as far as I’m concerned.

    Comment by Rex on August 3, 2005 @ 4:40 pm
  9. well, i usually drink bottled or mineral water and have done so for a long time. and figure this out – if i drink unpurified tap water, it gives me… hmmm… stomach problems :( . plus it never stops me from being thirsty. so, in my case, drinking mineral or spring water actually works.

    Comment by angeldust on July 6, 2006 @ 1:50 am

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