By Chris | September 19, 2008
Bottled water is immensely popular in the United States. And, while bottle labels display gurgling springs and mountain glaciers, most bottle water comes straight from municipal water sources. The two most popular brands of bottled water, Dasani and Aquafina, (owned by Coke and Pepsi respectively) both get their water right from the tap. Sure, they filter the water and cleanse it of any “impurities” but it’s still the same stuff that comes out of your kitchen sink. Bottled water companies have deemphasized this fact…until now. Tap’d is a new brand of bottled water that prides itself on bottling purified New York City tap water. In their own words:
Tap’dNY is a New York City bottled water company with a local twist and knack for honesty. We don’t travel the world from Fiji to France seeking water or offer the usual bottled water gimmicks. We work with NYC’s public water system to source the world’s best tasting tap water, purify it through reverse osmosis and bottle it locally, leaving out ludicrous transportation miles.
We offer an honest and local alternative to thirsty New Yorkers, giving them a smarter choice: to drink their own (award winning) water.
Tap’D has come under a lot of scrutiny for claiming to be an environmentally friendly company. Bottled water is no longer in vogue as the environmentally enlightened have recently become concerned that all of these disposable water bottles are ending up in the landfills. San Fransisco and Seattle recently banned municipal agencies from spending money on bottled water. I personally like tap water and rarely splurge for the bottled stuff. However, when I’m on vacation or late for a basketball game, I have been known to buy a bottle. Bottled water companies aren’t selling only pristine water, they are selling convenience. That’s why I’m skeptical of critics like this one:
Hard to see how [Tap’d] adding more plastic bottles to the landfill can be considered green. If you like local tap water, get a refillable bottle.
However, this criticism is flawed. Just because Tap’d sells water in bottles, doesn’t mean it is increasing the aggregate number of bottles that fill the landfills. Most people aren’t consuming lots of bottled water in their homes. They purchase it because it is a convenient way to get good water when you are away from home. It’s a pain to carry your Nalgene everywhere. Moreover, the market for bottled water has lots of close substitutes. People consuming Tap’d are substituting away from other bottled drinks. If the original drinks were shipped long distances, the switch to Tap’d likely decreases emissions and is a net gain for the environment. While, Tap’d’s cool label and clever marketing may induce some new consumption of bottles, I’d doubt this outweighs the positive benefits from reduced emissions.
Snobbery isn’t just for wine enthusiasts, water connoisseurs claim to detect subtle hints in their fine waters. Penn and Teller raise some doubts when they host water tastings in this hilarious video critique of the bottled water industry. Guess which water everyone raves about in the blind taste test? New York City tap water.