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Stop Buying Bottled Water!

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Recession Mama Michele Ashamalla: What is the real cost of drinking bottled water? There is, of course, a huge cost to the environment -- making all those bottles, shipping all those bottles, disposing of all the trash (or, if we're lucky, recycling all those bottles) and then starting over again. Besides that, there are some pretty tangible financial costs as well.

bottled water
It always seemed like bottled water was pretty cheap (just a few bucks a case), and the price has been coming down. I would say a decent sale price on a case of twenty-four would be $4. I've seen it go as low as $3, but not that often. If you drink eight glasses of water a day (like we're all supposed to!), that would mean four sixteen-ounce bottles, which means a family of four would go through $973 worth of water in a year.In California, we pay an extra five cents per bottle as a recycling incentive, so that's an additional $292.

What about buying water at sporting events and restaurants? Those bottles go for between $1 and $4 each, depending on the venue, so if each member of a four-person family bought water while out twice a week, at an average of $2.50 per bottle, that would add an extra $110 a year. That's a total of $1,375!

On average, tap water costs two cents per gallon. For a family of four drinking eight glasses a day, that would come to four cents a day, or $14.60 a year. Buy some fancy stainless steel reusable bottles, and you're still saving $1,300 a year!

If you are concerned about the safety of your tap water, check your district's water-quality reports, which should be online on their websites. If you're not crazy about the taste, buy a $20 filter pitcher and some filters ($5 each on sale in multi-packs). If you change the filter every couple of months as recommended, you're out $50 for the pitcher and filters for the year, and still saving $1,250.

Remember: Many brands of bottled water come from "municipal sources," which is exactly where the stuff coming out of your tap is from ....

next: A Chat with 'Origins' Author Annie Murphy Paul
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