America’s demand for bottled water is increasing faster than ever. Last year, the U.S. alone used 50 billion water bottles, but only 23% of them got recycled. That’s 38 billion water bottles wasted and left to decompose in the landfill. Cluster 1, otherwise known as “Project Exeter”, held an experiment to see whether the people of the Exonian community could tell the difference between bottled, filtered, and tap water. It turns out that 51% of the people could not tell the difference between the three, and over a quarter of the people thought that bottled water tasted like tap.

More and more people are starting to drink bottled water, as it may be more convenient and cleaner; it has also been rumoured to taste better. One third of all participants are used to drinking bottled water. Problem is, over a half of all participants believed that bottled water tasted like tap and filtered water. “I can’t taste the difference, it’s just water,” says a student. While drinking bottled water, another student said, “This water tastes so bad.” This shows that bottled water isn’t exactly the best tasting, and that there is no difference between filtered, tap and bottled water.

Why are we destroying the planet and making a ton of plastic bottles if we can just get the same water from the tap? It turns out that the people who are used to drinking tap water could not tell the difference, and that the people used to drinking bottled could tell the difference between the three.

Most people do not realize how detrimental plastic bottles are to the environment. Bottled water costs consumers and the environment. To meet America’s demand for bottled water, companies use over 17 million barrels of fuel per year. That’s enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. Factories put a lot of harmful chemicals into making plastic bottles, such as BPA and PVC, both of which can give you harmful health effects. This puts the factory workers and most importantly you at risk for cancer and other diseases.

When you throw away water bottles, the toxins leak into the soil and landfills, polluting the soil. Sometimes, trash gets burnt, and when plastic gets heated, it releases toxic chemicals into the air. This is one of the main contributors to global warming and climate change. Furthermore, bottled water costs a thousand times more than tap water, which means that we are spending so much more money on something we can get so much cheaper in our own homes.

Many of these companies say that they’re just meeting consumer demand. But who would want to buy a less sustainable, less tasty, and a way more expensive product? Tap water in the United States is subject to more safety regulations than bottled water.  Despite the marketing claims of safety when it comes to bottled water, a testing of 110 different brands of bottled water conducted in 2008 found 38 contaminants, including painkillers (to cancel out the harmful effects of PET, a common chemical found in plastic bottles), arsenic, and fertilizers. Even worse, most of the bottled water companies just put filtered tap water in a bottle, and mark the price up.

We now know that bottled water is less tasty, less safe, is extremely destructive towards the environment, and half of the participants couldn’t tell the difference between tap, filtered, and bottled water. These are just a few of the many reasons why we shouldn’t drink bottled water. Luckily, there are many alternatives to drinking bottled water. Firstly, we can all buy a reusable water bottle. Not only do these reusable water bottles save the environment, almost all of them are BPA and PET free. This means you can drink water safely without all those toxins polluting your body.

Also, reusable water bottles are more convenient. Many public places now have water fountains. There are a lot of them around campus too! Secondly, we can all install a filter in our tap water system. This makes our tap water safe (if it isn’t already), and we all can switch to drinking filtered tap water instead of bottled. All these solutions can help improve our individual carbon footprints and it can all lead us to a greener earth.

Extra facts from the Water Taste Test:

There were 102 responses.

50% of the people who got it right are Americans.

30% of the people who were used to drinking tap water thought that bottled water was tap.