6 Reasons to Stop Drinking Bottled Water

Americans' addiction to bottled water has exploded. In 1976, only 350,000 bottles of water were sold. Today, more than 9.4 billion bottles are sold each year, equaling more than $12 billion in sales. However, more people are beginning to question the need for and benefits of bottled water. In fact, certain groups, like Think Outside the Bottle, say our country needs to break its bottled water addiction. Here, ten reasons why you should kick the plastic habit.

1. Water and Oil Do Mix. Although these two liquids may not get along in the kitchen, oil powers the bottled water industry. The Earth Policy Institute estimates that it takes up to 1.5 million barrels of oil to power the plants that make the plastic for the bottles-that's enough to power 100,000 cars for a year.

2. Natural Spring Water. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that as much as 25 percent of bottled water comes from municipal sources, a.k.a. tap water. Be sure to check the label and cap of the bottle. If it says "from a community water system" or "from a municipal source," it originates from tap. What's more, the water doesn't always come from the branded source. For example, the water bottled for the Deer Park brand (which originated in Deer Park, Maryland) is taken from counties in Florida and Pennsylvania.

3. Bottled Water Doesn't Go Green. The interesting paradox that exists in bottle water consumption is the image it portrays as being healthy and clean, but it is anything but good for the environment. In California alone, approximately a billion plastic bottles are not recycled, according to the California Department of Conservation (CDOC). What's even more troubling, the Container Recycling Institute (CRI) says that plastic water bottles have a litter rate of about 30 million a day.

4. Bottled Water Gets a Pass. Despite astronomical sales, bottled water plants go relatively unchecked. The FDA, which is responsible for regulating bottled water, admits that "bottled water plants generally are assigned low priority for inspection." The FDA does not require disinfection of bottled water, nor does it have a confirmed E. Coli and fecal coliform ban, which means, unlike tap water, bottled water is permitted to have small amounts of these two potentially harmful bacteria.

5. There's something in the water. The water you're drinking may not be as clean as you think it is. In 2007, the FDA recalled Jermuk bottled water sold in California after finding trace amounts of arsenic, a naturally occurring chemical that can be toxic at very high levels. Furthermore, controversial chemicals called phthalates, which may disrupt the production of testosterone and other hormones, can seep into bottled water over time, according to research conducted by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

6. Support for the Tap. Contrary to popular opinion, tap water isn't necessarily healthier than bottled water. After conducting an extensive, four-year review of the bottled water industry, the NRDC concluded that bottled water is not any safer or cleaner than tap water. If taste is the issue, opt for home filters. Depending on your needs, you can choose to install one on your refrigerator or on your faucet or you can simply store a pitcher of filtered water in the fridge. Ultimately, filtering your own tap water can save you money and help the environment.