The Des Moines Register published an editorial on Thursday urging readers not to buy bottled water:
“Iowa’s capital city ranked best on our list of U.S. cities with the cleanest drinking water. The insurance industry center and home of the Iowa Caucus had the second-lowest level of bacteria in its drinking water” and was among the best for the lowest levels of lead,” according to the report.
As summer approaches, this is yet another reason to avoid purchasing bottled water. A better option is getting a sturdy plastic bottle and refilling it at the tap – which is probably cleaner anyway. While bottled water may sit on the shelves for ages, the Des Moines Water Works conducts performance tests several times a day, according to interim general manager Randy Beavers. Bottled water is an environmental and financial hazard. The bottles are shipped thousands of miles across the country in gas-guzzling trucks. Most aren’t recycled or reused, but end up in landfills. While it’s nothing to drop a dollar or two on a bottle of water, tap water averages a fraction of a penny per gallon.
I agree with the general point about not buying bottled water.
However, it’s a very bad idea to keep refilling plastic bottles from the tap. I used to do that before I learned that chemicals can leach from the plastic to the water:
Reused Plastic Bottles Can Leach Toxic Chemicals
The same studies found that repeated re-use of such bottles-which get dinged up through normal wear and tear and while being washed-increases the chance that chemicals will leak out of the tiny cracks and crevices that develop over time. According to the Environment California Research & Policy Center, which reviewed 130 studies on the topic, BPA has been linked to breast and uterine cancer, an increased risk of miscarriage, and decreased testosterone levels.
BPA can also wreak havoc on children’s developing systems. (Parents beware: Most baby bottles and sippy cups are made with plastics containing BPA.) Most experts agree that the amount of BPA that could leach into food and drinks through normal handling is probably very small, but there are concerns about the cumulative effect of small doses.
Even Plastic Water and Soda Bottles Should Not Be Reused
Health advocates also recommend not reusing bottles made from plastic #1 (polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PET or PETE), including most disposable water, soda and juice bottles. According to The Green Guide, such bottles may be safe for one-time use, but re-use should be avoided because studies indicate they may leach DEHP-another probable human carcinogen-when they are in less-than-perfect condition.
Safe Reusable Bottles Do Exist
Safer choices include bottles crafted from safer HDPE (plastic #2), low-density polyethylene (LDPE, AKA plastic #4) or polypropylene (PP, or plastic #5). Aluminum bottles, such as those made by SIGG and sold in many natural food and natural product markets, and stainless steel water bottles are also safe choices and can be reused repeatedly and eventually recycled.
If you live in the Des Moines area, you can buy reusable SIGG bottles at Campbell’s (there is a coating on the inside so that the aluminum does not come into contact with what you are drinking). Otherwise, you can order SIGG bottles or other brands of safe reusable bottles at ReusableBags.com.
If you’ve got small children, I highly recommend getting non-plastic reusable sippy cups and water bottles for lunch bags. SIGG is a brand we’ve been happy with. They are not dishwasher-safe, which is a little inconvenient, but we feel better knowing that chemicals are not leaching into our children’s water.