Is it time to turn to tap?

The Park Slope Food Co-op in Brooklyn announced this week that they would no longer sell bottled water. According to a report in the New York Times, that amounts to about 670 gallons of water every week since the co-op has nearly 14,000 members.

Meanwhile, across the river in Manhattan, New York Presbyterian Hospital has posted signs for several years advising patients to quench their thirst and even brush their teeth with bottled water and to avoid drinking the hospital's tap water. That's because two patients died from Legionnaire's disease in 2005 and the hospital is sill struggling to lower the level of bacteria in its water.

The hospital's experience is certainly bucking the trend, with a movement underfoot to call attention to the cost of bottled water, both monetarily and environmentally. I received an email not long ago from David Wilk, an environmental activist and publishing executive from Connecticut with whom I have collaborated. David founded Turn to Tap in 2007 to address the negative affects of bottled water. I asked him how much money you can save by switching to tap, and he emailed me his calculations for my family:

"If you have kids, and you buy them those little 8-ounce bottles, the savings for a family are massive: Let's say two kids, drink 500 little bottles each at .79 a bottle, and 150 16 ounce sport bottles a year at $1.79 each (which is less than two a day of the little bottles and three a week of the bigger bottles). Plus you have two adults, who drink 300, 12- and 16-ounce bottles a year (which is less than one a day per person, and many people drink way more than that). If you buy two reusable bottles at $20 each for each family member, the savings for the family in one year are $2,060." He added that you have saved the planet 365 times the energy costs of delivering water to your store and to recycle the bottles.

In fact, the savings for my own family are probably a bit less because my husband and I drink mostly tap water already, but getting rid of the little water bottles, which I put in my kids' snack bags and lunch bags regularly, would save us plenty. Last month, to celebrate Earth Day, the school sent home suggestions for earth-friendly suggestions, including skipping paper bags for snacks and foregoing bottled water. Instead, I used reusable plastic sports bottles and I have tried to continue although I have to say, it's easier to just grab a plastic bottle from the pantry than to wash out the bottles each night. But it's not worth $2,000.

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