Our world's most precious resource is arguably our water supplies. Without them we could not survive.
Those who live in developed countries sometimes take for granted our easy access to water for everything from washing clothes, cooking and drinking, to watering the lawn. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 1.1 billion people has no access to any type of improved drinking source of water. This leaves families open to a wide array of diseases.
Yet, those of us in developed countries have a whole other set of worries when it comes to our water. The UN reports that "in developing countries, 70 percent of industrial wastes are dumped untreated into waters where they pollute the usable water supply."
What's in your water? While the Environmental Protection Agency monitors contaminants in your town or county (the reports are available for your review), there are still many that work their way into your drinking water.
How can you be sure your family is drinking the most pure water possible? Is bottled water the answer? Experts say no. Here's why.
According to research presented by National Geographic from the Earth Policy Institute, the average yearly consumption of bottled water has risen from 1.6 gallons per American in 1976 to 30 gallons in 2006.
"Despite the fact that bottled water can cost anywhere from 240 to 10,000 times more than tap water, which is brought right to your home for pennies a gallon. Bottled water also creates its own share of pollution --- the production of plastic bottles requires millions of barrels of oil per year and the transportation of bottled water from its source to stores releases thousands of tons of carbon dioxide."
Bottled water hits Mother Earth hard on several fronts. First, this afore mentioned consuming of an enormous amount of oil in order to produce the plastic bottles. Second, through unrecycled trash filling landfills and oceans across the globe. Only 13 percent of water bottles are recycled. NatGeo reports, "Plastic bottles take centuries to decompose and if they are incinerated, toxic byproducts, such as chlorine gas and ash containing heavy metals, are released into the atmosphere."
Additionally, bottled water isn't regulated as tightly by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and can contain more contaminants than your every day tap water -- at a huge mark up in price.
"Bottled water isn't always as safe as tap water. The NRDC conducted a four-year study of the bottled water industry and concluded that while most bottled water is safe to drink, there are areas of concern. Roughly 22 percent of the water tested contained contaminant levels that exceeded strict state health limits. One study found that hormone-disrupting phthalates had leached into bottled water that had been stored for 10 weeks." (NatGeo)
"Bottled-water makers aren't required to disclose where their water comes from, how it was treated, or what contaminants it might contain." (greenerchoices.org )
As a homeowner in the United States you have the unique opportunity to not only have access to clean water, but to take this access one step further. You can choose to reduce your household's carbon footprint by reducing your bottled water usage and instead investing in home filtration systems.
Not only will this simple step reduce your household's impact on Mother Earth, it could also steer you in the direction of even healthier water -- through home filtration systems.
There are a variety of products on the market that tout a wide variety of filtering standards. Some remove a handful of contaminants while others take the job a bit more seriously.
Consumer reports lists their top choices for home filtration systems. The top carafes (pitchers) were the Lotus Tersano LWT-100 ($299) and Best Buy Clear20 CWS100A ($15). Both removed lead and chloroform.
The Shaklee BestWater MTS2000 #82300 ($260) and Amway eSpring 10-0188 are high-rated countertop models.
In reverse osmosis, the three top rates buys were Whirlpool WHER25 ($146), Kenmore Elite 38556 ($255), and Kenmore 38156 ($153).
Finally, buyers could opt for the top-rated undersink models with the Culligan FM-15A ($15) and Brita Base On Tap OPFF-100 at ($19)
If a larger, more comprehensive system isn't in your budget, then consider starting this "green" water journey with a filtering pitcher or faucet filter. Not only will your water taste better, it will be better for you. You can purchase reusable stainless steel or BPA free plastic water bottles to use and reuse again -- just another step in your household's green living quest.