The pros and cons of bottled water versus tap water

The human body is more than 70% water, a statement we constantly hear, and which determines the necessity for staying hydrated. There are some choices for maintaining good hydration ranging from fruit and veggies to the most obvious one of drinking water. And herein lies a dilemma many modern households face: what are the pros and cons of bottled water versus tap water?

There has always been debate around bottled water in opposition to tap water. Depending on where you live in the world, one may be more favourable than the other, especially if water sources are few and far between. That generally isn’t an issue in the UK, so bearing in mind most people don’t have a problem accessing tap water, how does the fresh water we rather take for granted compare with tap water from a health perspective?

But before we compare bottled water and tap water for health reasons, let’s just consider this from an environmental perspective.

Environmental Reasons to Avoid Bottled Water

Research estimates that the environmental impact of drinking bottled water could be up to 3,500 times greater than drinking tap water. That is a huge negative impact on our fragile environment. These are some of the reasons that bottled water has such a huge environmental footprint:

1. Bottled water uses fossil fuels contributing to global warming and pollution at all stages including water extraction, plastic packaging and transportation.

2. In the UK, we throw away about 10 billion plastic water bottles a year. An estimated 15 million bottles are littered, landfilled or incinerated every day. This is believed to produce up to 233,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. Plastic bottles in landfill can take up to 700 years to degrade.

3. Plastic bottles find their way into our oceans causing a mountain of waste and causing harm to fish and damaging marine ecosystems.

From an environmental perspective, when looking at the pros and cons of bottled water versus tap water, clearly the latter is by far the best option.

How Safe Is UK Tap Water Compared To Bottled?

We all have that image of a smog-ridden London with heavy dark clouds that surely signal a highly polluted area. While that was the case for most of the industrial revolution era, times have changed since then, and water safety is taken very seriously in the British Isles.

Tap water in the UK is touted as one of the safest in the world and it’s evident by the many safety regulations in place to guarantee this. So why then is this debate about bottled water being better still going on?

Bottled water is safe enough to drink but, by comparison, it is rarely safer than our tap water in the UK. Water sold in bottles rarely has a specific mountain source with mineral and natural components. Most often the same water from the tap is found in bottled water from the stores, but with the caveat that plastics will affect its quality.

It is also important to remember that while there are extensive regulations in place for tap water, bottled water is classed as a food and beverage item and won’t be tested to such strict levels of compliance.

Is It Necessary to Filter Tap Water?

It’s a common misconception to believe that tap water may not be safe because of its appearance, taste, or smell. In many cases, bottled water can be in fact less safe than tap water. But safety is almost always guaranteed with tap water in the UK.

Issues with the taste and smell of tap water often lead households to invest in home filtering systems to improve its consumer-friendly aspect. One of the top sources to consult for home water filtration is with guides to filters based on certain needs. There is a water filter out there if you want to reduce chlorine, iron, hardness, and much more.

Natural Water Sources for Bottled Water

There is still the notion of natural mineral water sources that often get a spotlight for safety, freshness, and overall positivity due to this “natural” property. Differently from tap water which has its source from groundwater like rivers and reservoirs, natural mineral water is taken from specially protected underground sources and bottled soon after.

The idea here is to preserve its original form with all the nutrients and minerals it naturally possesses. The UK has a few such recognised natural water sources that produce bottled water.

The Pros And Cons

There is much to be said about both tap and bottled water and preference plays the most important role in whichever choice is made. There are however certain advantages and disadvantages to both.

Bottled Water

For many, bottled water is highly convenient in the sense that it is easy to go get what water is needed and make use of it either at home or on the go. Bottled water comes with the advantage of always having the same taste and smell while also being available in various additional flavours.

Portability is another advantage that bottled water is preferred as opposed to tap. You can get it anywhere, fresh and chilled if needed easy to carry with its optimal design in portability.

Nevertheless, bottled water comes at a price. Relying only on bottled water for drinking is quite an expensive endeavour and it does not come with many assurances for purity as it’s not ensured by the same directive as tap water.

Tap Water

As convenient as bottled water is on the go, it becomes less so at home. If reliance on bottled water for the home is quite high, then tap water will prove all that much more convenient. Even more so, tap water is way cheaper and always at your disposal.

Tap water may not be as portable as bottled water but there are options to help with that. The many different types of portable water bottles are one such solution. Tap water sometimes varies in consistency to its taste or smell and this can put many consumers off. But even this has a solution in the most basic and affordable water filter which is a pitcher.


From a health perspective, there is no benefit to choosing bottled water. If you do not like the taste or smell of the tap water where you live, water filters are an easy and affordable option to alleviate that problem.

When you consider the environmental impacts of bottled water, plus the additional cost, it is generally an irresponsible approach to rely on bottled water.

Of course, it is important to keep hydrated and having a bottle of water with you when you are out and about for any length of time is a sensible thing to do. However, there are plenty of attractive and safe reusable water bottles you could purchase, and if you need to top up your bottle there are over 30,000 places across the UK to do so including big chains such as Morrisons, Costa Coffee and John Lewis. Perhaps even more importantly, many indie cafes and coffee shops will also happily top up a refillable water container.

So, there you are. In the UK, tap water is as safe if not safer than bottled water; there are solutions if you don’t like the taste; bottled water is costly and has huge environmental implications. Why would you still purchase bottled water?



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