What’s the difference? Bottled vs Tap Water

In May 2017, Augsburg approved a new Policy on Bottled Water that aims to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions and support the provision of water as a human right and not a commodity. To support policy implementation as we #LoveLocalWater, Fall 2017 Environmental Connections (ENV 100) students created projects to address knowledge gaps, resource needs, and communications opportunities. Check back each week in January as we feature a blog series on different aspects of bottled water written by one of those project groups!

By Joshua Marose (’21)

Many people often wonder what the difference is between bottled water and tap water. It is often that they conclude that bottled water is the healthier and safer option, since the companies selling their product claim so after all. These companies give the idea that tap water is dirty and that their own bottled water is healthier and cleaner. But is it true that tap water is that unsafe?

Although many companies claim that their bottled water is from mystical springs, the truth is that often they aren’t so. Most companies get their water from normal ordinary wells and underground sources one might expect from tap water. In fact it is estimated that 25% of all bottled water is just repackaged tap water, often not even further tested.

water well pump water bottled

After the water is acquired it goes through the same regulations and testing as tap water. In fact the Food and Drug Association (FDA) adopts similar regulations for bottled water that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) already uses for tap water. So in essence both bottled water and tap water are of the same safety and quality, and tap water is usually tested and monitored for safety more often than bottled water. The EPA does not regulate private wells, so water from there must be privately tested, and water can become contaminated in old pipes connecting to buildings, as we’ve seen in Flint, Michigan. So while there could be cases where bottled water is safer for individuals to drink, the majority of people in the U.S. with access to tap water have a clean, safe source of water already at hand.

water treatment plant

If you live in a city with public water systems, drinking tap water may be economically beneficial to you compared to buying bottled water. The average cost of a gallon of water in a bottle is $1.22, which is 300,000% more than if you used a gallon of tap water. Because tap water is essentially the same quality, why should we pay extra for the same product?

 

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/tap-vs-bottled-water/faq-20058017

https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/bottled/index.html

https://www.nrdc.org/stories/truth-about-tap

https://www.epa.gov/privatewells/about-private-water-wells

Images from:

http://www.clintonhealth.org/wells/

http://panamaadvisoryinternationalgroup.com/blog/news-from-panama/five-bids-to-build-water-treatment-plant/

http://dawnnamibia.com/water-bottling-plant

Augsburg IT Recycles Styrofoam From New Computers

Each summer, as new computer shipments make their way to Augsburg, we’re left with packaging waste that can’t all be accepted by our own recycling hauler. To minimize the waste this year, Eric Strom took a load of #6 expanded polystyrene (Styrofoam) over to DiversiFoam in Rockford, MN where it will be recycled and used in manufacturing construction-related polystyrene products.

In 2014, 14,320,000 tons of plastic containers and packaging (including polystyrene) was generated in the U.S. (see page 9 for more fun with numbers!). Only 14.8% of that waste was recycled. Polystyrene packaging and containers in particular had an even lower recycling rate with only 9.1% of all polystyrene in the waste stream being recycled.

Because of its lightweight structure and limited end-uses, polystyrene is notoriously difficult to recycle. As long as the packaging material is clean, white, and adhesive-free, DiviersiFoam is able to keep it out of landfills and put it back into their own products.

Thanks to Eric and our friends in IT for finding this local resource and helping reduce our dependence on landfills and make progress on our Environmental Action Plan!

Does your department collect a lot of polystyrene? Want to help create a campus-wide system for recycling it? Share your ideas or other sustainability stories with us at environmentalstewardship@augsburg.edu!

 

 

Composting in Minneapolis!

It’s official.  Citywide composting is coming to Minneapolis!  Compost bins will be distributed to neighborhoods in stages, beginning this summer, to include all of Minneapolis by spring of 2016.  Both MPR News and FOX 9  featured articles on the program this week.  Check it out!

 

 

Green Tips for the Holidays!

It’s easy to get caught up in all the holiday craziness and forget about how much extra waste we produce during this time of year.  This article (c/o  Shred-Right) shares some helpful tips on staying green throughout the holiday season.

Ho, Ho, Ho…liday Waste

Peace on earth, good will to landfills

We’ve believed green was the most trend-right color for 25 years, and not just at Christmas time.  We’re glad to see the rest of the population embracing this bold new green way of living. Holiday time or year-round, recycling is key for sustainability.

But how do we stay green without becoming the Grinch during holiday time?

  • Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week!
  • Look for gifts with an environmental message: a nature book, a refillable thermos bottle, a canvas tote bag, a battery recharger or items made from recycled materials. Choose solar powered instead of battery powered products. Or better yet, ones that require no power at all.
  • Other environmentally-smart gifts include homemade ones: The average American spends $800 on gifts over the holiday season. Think about your time and energy spent driving all around town looking at so much stuff. Try giving homemade items like cookies, bread or jams, a plant or tree.
  • Gifts that don’t create any waste at all: concert or movie tickets, dinner at a restaurant, or an IOU to help rake leaves or repair a leaky faucet. Ones that get “used up”: candles, soap, or seeds for next year’s garden.
  • Wrap gifts in recycled or reused wrapping paper or funny papers. Also remember to save or recycle used wrapping paper. Give gifts that don’t require much packaging, such as concert tickets or gift certificates.
  • Turn off or unplug holiday lights during the day. Doing so will not only save energy, but will also help your lights last longer.

Thanks to the EPA, Standford and Reduce.org  for these Grinch-free tips.