Is water filter better than bottled water? I get this question again and again, so I have decided to give you a definite answer and cross all the t’s.
Water filter is definitely a much better way of drinking water rather than buying bottled water. It is more viable financially, as well as it does not contribute to the plastic pollution and droughts as the bottled water industry.
Further in the article, I present you the evidence behind that statement above. I am quite excited to share what I have found.
I will look to the topic from mostly two angles, cost, and overall quality. So, if you are as excited as I am, let’s dig in.
Difference Between Filtered and Bottled Water
Right off the bat, let’s talk about the difference between these two. Since we will discuss the price later in the article, I would like to talk about the difference in quality.
Here is a shocking fact number one. According to Food & Water Watch research, about 64% of bottled water came from the same source as the tap water.
In essence, companies such as Nestle or Coca-Cola just opened a water tap and poured bottles.
Okay, it is not that simple, and they have probably invested in the filtration system and then poured a bottle with filtered water.
In comparison, the condition of tap water is generally horrible, but you can do something about it. Water filters could significantly improve the quality, and if I am honest, probably even more than bottled water.
The thing is, you can choose water filter specific to your demand. So if you want to, you can get a top-notch system that would create crispy tasting water.
What I want to get across is that most of the time, bottled water has the same quality as filtered water.
If plastic bothers you as much as me, and you would like to reduce the amount of plastic waste you are generating, I would recommend you the absolutely one-stop resource you need called – My Plastic-Free Life.
Beth runs this blog for over 10 years now, and did you know that she is the person who has made Brita to recycle their used cartridges?
So, definitely add her to your reading list if you want to reduce your plastic traces, and I in a meantime will go another important point.
Environmental Impact of Bottled Water
Speaking of bottled water, I would also want to get to another quite significant point across.
Not only you are not getting better quality, but also you are contributing to plastic pollution.
Let’s talk about some numbers:
The first mentioned study has found that about 70% of water bottles are not recycled and end up in landfill or what is even worse in oceans.
Can you imagine how much of the plastic this is? Want some more spicy information?
Here it is!
Because of the amount of municipal water companies are pumping, they contribute to droughts. Just a quick example from the same study.
Nestle has pumped 705 million gallons of water in California. This amount can provide water for more than 2000 families (note families, not individuals). Notably, in the already drought areas like California literally, every drop counts.
As you will see in the next chapter, not only these companies leave an enormous footprint, but they also gain significant profit. Even thoough I am trying to look at this objectively, I feel like they are not keen to give anything back.
Right, I have found a recent news article saying that Nestle is going to contribute to an ocean’s clean up. However, the amount of money invested in the project is undisclosed, which for me simply means compared to the profit, it’s pennies.
I hope every reader of this blog can make their own picture on the business with bottled water. Now, I am going to talk about the costs of both types of water.
Cost of Filtering vs Buying Bottled
In this chapter, I will compare two options of filtered water with bottled water.
In the first option, I will calculate the cost of water per gallon of water treated by a pitcher filter.
In the second scenario, I will calculate water filtered by reverse osmosis system.
Now, I have selected these two options purposely to show you that even if you invest in a more advanced system, you will recover the cost back.
You might not necessarily recover it in real cash, but by buying the filter, you will positively contribute to the environment by not producing plastic, supporting droughts, and saving money on bottled water.
So let’s talk about money now! Following sections have detailed calculation, but you can scroll down for the final table to compare prices.
In fact, I have created an amazing calculator that shows you exactly how much you can save and there is also a little bonus for you.
Pitcher Filtered Water
For the example purpose, I have selected a well known pitcher ZeroWater. Compared to Brita, this filter removes a much bigger number of contaminants and is in a similar price range.
So, the initial price of the standard pitcher is about $35. The replacement cartridge for ZeroWater costs about $13 per cartridge. Now, you might get a discount when buying in bulk, but let’s stick to this.
Now, before we actually calculate the price of water per gallon, I would need the last variable – cartridge lifespan. I know that the lifespan is heavily dependent on the quality of water, so I will take an average number, which would be about 35 gallons per cartridge.
The filter comes with the first cartridge, and if you have got additional cartridge you will pay $48, and the filter will last you about 70 gallons.
The equation is 48/70 which gives us ~$0.69. Now, the equation is not complete as we need to add the price of tap water to get the exact number.
I have found that the price of the tap water is $2 per 1,000 gallons, which is $0.002 per one gallon.
So, the total price of filtered water by a pitcher is roughly $0.7 per gallon. Don’t forget that I had only calculated the initial cost when you were actually buying the filter.
The price of water excluding the initial filter purchase would be only about $0.38 of filtered water by the pitcher.
Price of RO Filtered Water
The first RO system could cost anywhere between $200 and $500, so let’s say you will go for the better one and get the system that costs about $300.
Again, the unit comes with the initial set of filters. Now, usually, manufacturers claim that filters could last about a year. However, I like to replace them every 6 months because of the bacteria.
Although I am confident that you can find a filter with UV sterilizer in that price range, which would extend the lifespan up to one year as the unit will sterilize water, so the bacteria won’t get out of the filter.
To make things easier, let’s say you will replace all cartridges once per year. I have had a quick look at the whole replacement pack of cartridges, and the average price is about $80.
Again, it really depends on the type of RO filter you use and the number of stages. Different brands will have slightly different prices, but $80 is a good average to consider.
What we need now, to our equation is the amount of water you will get until you need to replace the cartridge.
This could be slightly difficult because the lifespan is usually counted in months rather than gallons, but no worries I got you, although it is a tricky one.
I will go for a number of 1,000 gallons of filtered water, and let me explain why.
If I consider the household of four and every person is drinking a daily minimum of 0.5 gallons per day, so we get 2 gallons of water we need purely for drinking. We need to get this number per year, which is times 365 and a total of 730 gallons of water required solely for drinking.
Some of you might have a small household some bigger, as well as some, might use RO water for cooking, making beverage, etc. Therefore the 1,000 gallons. Note that this doesn’t calculate water used for showering and another household usage.
Let’s get back to maths, I know you don’t like it so let me calculate this for you.
The initial price for gallon will be 300/1000, which is $0.3 and those $0.002 for tap water, don’t forget to add wastewater to the price. So, you probably end up something like $0.31 when wastewater is considered.
Now, if we take away the initial purchase of the RO system and only incorporate replacement cartridge price, the price for water is $0.08 per gallon plus tap water including wastewater generated by RO gives us total cost of $0.09.
I want you to look at these numbers as a rough estimate because everyone has different situations and usage etc.
Also, note that with the whole house filter, the price per gallon will be even less as they can generate much more water for usage within the whole house and not just to drink.
Let’s compare our calculations with bottled water.
I really want to show you that even the cheapest bottled water is still much more expensive. So, I have found the most affordable bottled water in Walmart, and the price was $1 per gallon.
Which is still three times more than the price of filtered water by the pitcher.
I believe that no one is buying the cheapest water, so the real price of bottled water will be much higher.
I know I have been using many numbers and you could have lost somewhere in the middle of it. Here is the table that collides everything said earlier into one place.
|Type of Water||Cost/Gallon Including Initial Filter||Cost/Gallon Replacement Cartridge Only|
As a closing remark, I want to point out that regardless of the type of filter you choose, it will always be a better option than buying bottled water. I would also encourage you to read my other article on water being more precious than gold.
As always, I will welcome any comments and your opinions you have about this topic.
Share your answers in the comment section below.