There have been many great debates over the years. Apple versus PC, chocolate versus vanilla and now, tap water versus its bottled counterpart.
In this H2O battle royal, tap water has seen a recent advantage with bottled water suffering some serious casualties.
As a result of criticism raised against the environmental footprint of bottled water and its health issues, many university campuses across the United States have banned the sale of bottled water.
The United States, despite having easy access to some of the world’s cleanest water, is also the largest consumer of bottled water. According to research by Brita, in 2008 Americans consumed enough plastic water bottles to stretch around the earth 190 times. Also, according to an article in the Environmental Research Letters, it takes up to 2,000 times more energy to produce a bottle of water than to get it from a tap.
However, bottled water is not without its defenders.
The International Bottled Water Association has been fighting recently to combat these criticisms, poke holes in the arguments and get water bottles back on the shelves at these campuses.
“Although water consumption, from a tap or from a bottle, is a good thing, we believe that efforts to discourage drinking bottled water is not in the public’s interest,” said Joe Doss, president and CEO of the IBWA.
Doss refutes the arguments made against bottled water, stating they are completely untrue and based off misinformation.
According to Doss, bottled water is incredibly safe. It is strictly monitored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is held to a higher standard than tap water.
As proof of its safety, Doss cited a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office which states in the past five years, there has not been an illness attributed to bottled water. On the other hand, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, there have been more than 16 million illnesses reported in the U.S. caused by tap water.
Doss also said the arguments made regarding bottled water’s environmental impact are also misleading.
“Bottled water has less plastic that other packaged drinks and has the lowest carbon footprint,” Doss said. “According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, plastic water bottles account for only one third of one percent of the U.S. waste stream.”
Doss said banning the sale of bottled water will do more harm than good, causing students to turn to other products that are high in sugar and caffeine.
Despite the measures taken by some campuses to stop the sales of bottled water, Dean Wright, director of BYU Dining Services, said students should not be worried as they have no plans to remove bottled water.
BYU campus does not emphasize the importance of one over the other.
“We offer a variety of choices for students on campus,” Wright said. “We’ve installed a number of fountains so students can fill their bottles and we have a great recycling program for people with plastic bottles.”
When it comes down to it, choosing between bottle or tap water is a personal preference.
“There really isn’t much of a difference between the two,” said Pauline Williams, an assistant teaching professor in the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science. “What’s important is that students get their 8 to 12 cups of fluid each day in order to stay healthy.”