Readers pour out their bottled-water tales
In an earlier column, I wrote about the cost-savings and environmental advantages of drinking filtered water using a home-pitcher system rather than buying individual half-liter or gallon bottles of filtered water. Not only can we save at least $1 per gallon by taking this approach; we avoid filling our landfills with plastic bottles.
Even if you are one of the nearly 33 percent of people who responsibly recycle these bottles, there are still energy costs associated with recycling them. I heard from a few readers on this topic.
Bob Confer of Pittsburgh advocated using an installed home water-filter system. He owns a company that provides this service so he is knowledgeable, and perhaps a little biased toward the idea of installing a system.
Based on industry research available, the actual per-gallon cost of water purified with an installed system is less, but the upfront costs are much higher. Advocates of installed-filter systems point out that having filtered water directly from the tap is also beneficial for brushing your teeth, cooking, boiling food, bathing and showering.
Bob also pointed out that water is only filtered by the home-pitcher systems I suggested (Brita and PUR), not purified. The home-filter manufacturers also make this distinction, so I apologize for incorrectly stating the function of pitcher-filter systems.
I also heard from another water authority, Peter Black of Syracuse, N.Y. He is a professor of water and related land resources at the State University of New York (you can learn more at www.watershedhydrology.com).
It should be pointed out that a gallon of bottled water may cost as much as 10,000 times as much as a gallon of municipal tap water; and may even be tap water! For those of us fortunate to live in the United States, where tap water is safe to drink and under constant professional scrutiny, there is no advantage to bottled water. It is neither regulated nor inspected. Bottled water is valuable in a flood, water main break or when traveling and local water is suspect, yes; otherwise, an inadvisable waste of money, material and energy."
And Beth Terry of Douglas, Ariz., is spearheading an effort to encourage the home-filter-system companies to recycle their filters, thus avoiding adding waste to landfills.
"If you lived in Europe, you could take that filter to a drop-off location where it would be sent back to Brita for recycling. Unfortunately, here in North America, we have no options for recycling our Brita cartridges at all."
"That's why I and a group of other committed bloggers have formed the Take Back The Filter campaign (www.takebackthefilter.org) to urge The Clorox Co., which owns Brita in North America, to redesign their filters and provide a way for us to recycle them, as is done in Europe."
I appreciate the feedback I get from readers, so please keep your comments, suggestions and insights coming! Stephanie Nelson shares her savings tips as a contributor on ABC News' "Good Morning America."