Both of these contenders match up very closely to each other, and so this should be an interesting exchange. In the blue corner, a contender that comes out of surface and groundwater, a friend to us all, tap water! In the red corner, we have an opponent that comes from wells, springs, and municipal water supplies, the challenger, bottled water! Can bottled water cap a solid victory and make tap water tap out? Let us move on from the overused stereotype of a fight to truly illustrate a comparison between the two using some good old reliable facts.
Let us start with something that we are all interested in; money. Few years ago, the average cost of bottled water was approximately .90 cents per gallon. That is less than the cost for a McChicken sandwich from McDonald’s. (McChicken’s are great financial models. For example: “How much were those headphones?” – “$25.00” – “Dude, that’s like 25 McChickens”). .90 cents per gallon does not seem bad until you compare it to the price of tap water during the same decade. In 1990, the cost of tap water was .80 cents per 500 gallons. It is clear that bottled water is costing us way more than tap water, but what is so good about bottled water? Is it worth the extra money? But more importantly, is it worth the opportunity cost of sacrificing a potential McChicken?
Bottled water comes from wells, springs, and the municipal water supply. Bottled water is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. On the other hand, tap water comes from surface water such as lakes or streams or groundwater. Tap water is regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Given the extra cost of bottled water, it only makes sense that bottled water would have stricter regulation, right? Wrong. The FDA and EPA’s standard’s for water are “essentially the same” (Duke). But equal regulation does not entail equal health benefits. After all, with the exception of an occasional crafty stoner, healthiness is really the reason why most people buy water bottles. But it turns out that bottled water really is not healthier than tap water. What makes water “healthy” are the minerals in the water. The main minerals are calcium and magnesium. But depending on where you live, your tap water may be practically equal to or exceed the amount of calcium and magnesium that you find in a water bottle.
Now please be seated because the following information may shake the world as you know it. It turns out that most bottled water is in fact, tap water. This is turning in to Fight Club, where Brad Pitt is really Edward Norton and Edward Norton tries to kills Brad Pitt but really just shoots himself in the mouth. 40 percent of water in water bottles are from tap water. This includes all the water that is sold by Pepsi and Coca-Cola. In fact, in 2007 Pepsi was forced to state on its Aquafina water bottle that it came from a public source. The public source is tap water. So they literally took water from your sink, put it in a bottle, and sold it back to you for a higher price. It is just too perfect.
Besides portability, tap water triumphs over bottled water in all areas. Our winner by unanimous decision, tap water!