It used to be that people drank bottled water because it was trendy – or they assumed it would taste better than tap water. But thanks to the dedication to high standards and highly regulated processes in the water industry, we’re able to deliver water that consistently gets chosen as peoples’ preference in blind taste tests.
So, if tap water tastes better than ever, and IS better than ever in terms of quality, why is bottled water an $8+ billion industry? Some of it probably comes down to peoples’ habits, or perhaps it’s the influence of the soft drink industry’s marketing, and the newer rise of “infused” waters that don’t taste like…water.
Bottled water manufacturers have increasingly been offering everything from cucumber-infused water and strawberry-kiwi flavored water, to pre-measured flavor packets and water flavor enhancers that allow the user to chose the potency of taste by just “squirting a little or a lot into your water bottle, shake and enjoy”! I personally think it’s all a little much. And then this recent article about a supermarket’s bottled asparagus water really got me thinking about the added value of tap water in light of this escalating trend toward water that doesn’t taste like water.
In terms of dollars and cents, the source in this article says it all: tap water costs virtually nothing, a few spears of asparagus retails around $1, and yet a bottle of asparagus water on the shelf is priced at $6. Whether the idea of asparagus-flavored water even appeals to you at all, there is also the cost to the environment to consider. As addressed in other blogs, the water footprint of producing, packaging and marketing all those plastic bottles of water is tremendous.
Finally, there is the convenience factor. Personally, I’d much rather turn on the tap for a nice glass of water instantly vs. drive to the supermarket for something with added flavor (and let’s not forget the water and carbon footprint this trip generates!). Moreover, if we are drinking water for health benefits, it takes time to read the labels and find flavored water that is free of sugar, chemicals, etc. Still, I questioned if buying prepackaged water was still more convenient than flavoring it myself?
It turns out, no! You can make gallons of flavored tap water with an average prep time of just 2-10 minutes. And, again, compared to the cost of a bottled item, well… there IS NO comparison. Here are some of my favorite examples:
- Watermelon water: 1.5 gallons of tap water, 1 small seedless watermelon cut into chunks, ice (approximately $5 in ingredients); prep time 10 minutes
- Cucumber-lemon: 1 gallon of tap water, 3 slices of lemon, 3 slices of cucumber (less than $2 in ingredients); prep time 2 minutes
- Citrus squeeze: squeeze a bit of fresh lemon or lime in your glass of tap water (pennies per glass)
- Orange freeze: freeze sections of clementine oranges (approximately $4/lb.) and use them as a replacement for ice cubes in your tap water.
Imagine, orange as the new ice cube! It may not be for everyone, but it shows that with a little creativity – and a lot less expense and cost to the environment.