If you’re like me, you don’t think much about finding the perfect water source when you’re really thirsty; you just want to drink. Water is one of the essential elements of life, a sustaining force that not only quenches our thirst but is also integral in everything from agriculture to transportation to sanitation and personal hygiene. Water is essential for survival, not only for individuals and communities but also for the preservation of our environment.
How can we satisfy our own need for this precious resource while preserving it for future generations?
- Avoid bottled water. It’s not any safer than tap water—in fact, much of the bottled water found in stores is simply tap water in a bottle, sans federal regulations. (Independent testing of ten bottled water brands in 2008 found 38 contaminants). In addition to the health concerns, bottled water also wreaks havoc on the environment. Vast amounts of energy are used to produce the bottles, which often end up in landfills, lakes, streams, and oceans.
- Avoid water delivery services. They may seem like an appealing alternative to bottled water for the home and office, but the option is not as environmentally friendly as it may appear. Delivery services unfortunately rely on a fleet of large trucks that drive around all day, using tons of energy and resources in the process.
- For the environment, drink local water from natural aquifers filtered for impurities. Unfortunately, even tap water that meets or exceeds federal standards can be filled with chemical contaminants that are not yet regulated, such as pharmaceuticals. A carbon filter (such as a Brita filter) can purify the water of most contaminants, but a block carbon filter such as Multipure is certified by the NSF to reduce even more and does not remove trace minerals (such as calcium, magnesium and potassium) from the water.
- Make sure to carry and use your water bottle! That way, you’ll always have filtered water on hand and won’t have to resort to tap water or bottled water when you’re away from home.
- For the community, support your water supply and take part in making it better. For many contaminants, levels that are legally permitted in the water supply are greater than levels that cause negative health effects. “Maximum contaminant level goals” are non-enforceable goals—but could greatly benefit public health if they were actually enforced. And, as previously mentioned, many contaminants are not even regulated. Lobbying for stricter governmental regulations is crucial for improving our water supply for everyone. Let’s move forward on this issue by asking for an increase in contaminants regulated and for stricter standards based on actual health effects, not on what water companies can get away with.
Filter your water and drink up!
Yael Grauer is a freelance food writer and managing editor of the Performance Menu: Journal of Health and Athletic Excellence. She has a penchant for chocolate and steak. Check out her latest blog posts and writing portfolio at Yael Writes.