Millions of people in the UK spend millions of pounds on bottled water every year. And we’re being sold a scam… so let’s just clear something up;

By opting for tap water over bottles you can help the ENVIRONMENT, YOUR POCKET and YOUR HEALTH!

Now, if all this is true then why is bottled water such a successful industry? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that it isn’t a very sustainable way of doing business.

Some imported brands of bottled water are responsible for more than 300 times the CO2 emissions per litre than tap water (Thames Water 2009). According to WRAP three out of four plastics bottles are not recycled meaning millions of bottles needlessly end up in landfill. And even if they are recycled (which is far better than creating them from raw materials) it still leads to higher carbon emissions as the recycling process consumes energy.

Ignoring the environmental impact for a minute, why do people just keep reaching in to their pockets to buy another bottle of water when it’s so expensive?

According to the Consumer Council for Water bottled water costs 500 times more than tap water, so when we ask for bottled water at a restaurant it can be comparable to paying £1500 for a beer or glass of wine when we’d usually pay just £3. Interestingly, one in five people claim that they’re ‘slightly nervous’ or ‘too scared to ask’ for tap water (National Consumer Council). But the main reason is because of successful advertising campaigns which have managed to convince us that bottled water is somehow better for us.

However on the whole, tap water is just as safe, clean and healthy. And if you live in London (where the water certainly isn’t coming from any fresh water springs) then your tap water is actually rated top in the UK according the Drinking Water Inspectorate’s (DWI) annual water quality report in 2008. The DWI rigorously tests the quality of drinking water to make sure that it is safe in terms of bacteria, the chemical and metal content and perhaps surprisingly, how the water looks and tastes.

Further to this, The London On Tap campaign, a collaboration between Thames Water and the Mayor of London, recently launched a competition to design an iconic carafe to be used to serve tap water in restaurants, bars and hotels throughout the capital. So now restaurant owners can order a carafe with their logo on to serve tap water, which not only looks smart, but shows that their establishment has invested in our environment.

Now if you already know all of the above and in addition are trying to cut down on how much tap water you use (we salute you) then the Consumer Council for Water and the Energy Saving Trust have come up with these top tips to help you save money and the environment:

• Replace worn washers on leaky taps. A dripping hot water tap wastes energy and over a year could unnecessarily add over £18 to your annual water bill.

• Shorten your shower. For every minute you cut off your daily shower you could save between £5 and £10 off your energy bills over the year, or go one step further and install a water saving shower head, which can cut the amount of water used by about 30 per cent.

• When putting the kettle on to boil, only fill it with as much water as necessary. Two-thirds of us waste energy by boiling more water than we need.

• Make sure that the dishwasher or washing machine is completely full before turning it on, and avoid using the half load setting. Half-load cycles use much more than half the energy and water of a full load.

• Washing machines use huge amounts of energy, 90 per cent of which is through heating water. By reducing the temperature from 40 to 30 degrees, energy consumption will be reduced by 40 per cent.

• The hot water cylinder thermostat should be set at 60°C or 140°F. Any higher is a waste of energy and could lead to scalding.

• Insulate the hot water cistern to avoid wasting energy to keep it hot. Fitting a jacket that is at least 75mm thick could save around £35 each year.

Like so many environmental initiatives, when you think about it, it makes perfect sense, it saves you money and it’s actually very easy to do.

About the Author: Helen Chapman is part of the PASSION for the PLANET team.

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