Green for less: Don't let bottled water drain your budget

One aspect of modern life that would perplex a time traveler from the 1950s is our willingness to spend money on bottled water. In 2005, according to the Bottled Water Association, in 2006 8.25 billion gallons of bottled water were sold, a 9.5% increase over the previous year. And yet perfectly drinkable water is available at the tap in most homes. In fact, in my house a 12 oz. serving of water costs me $00.0034.

Many people, however, dislike the taste of their tap water, or mistrust its purity. They turn to bottled water, often in 12 or 16 oz. disposable containers, that cost around $1 per when purchases singly, half that when bought in bulk.

Not only is this an extraordinary markup on the cost of water. The bottles are a major contributor to landfill waste, and even those that are recycled eat up energy in the process. A recent study concluded that as much as 2,000 times more energy is spent producing and distributing bottled water compared to tap water. According to the study, our bottled water addiction used up the equivalent of 32 million gallons of oil or more lat year.

There is, however, a dandy compromise. Many grocery stores now have water dispensing machines that sell filtered water by the gallon for a fraction of the pre-bottled price. By bringing in your own containers and refilling them, you can save a lot of money. And by using this water at home to refill single-serving sized bottles, you can save even more and do the environment a good turn.

I was going to finish this by joking that the next trend will be designer air, but too late- it's already being marketed.

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