333 Weeks Without Bottled Water

Disclosure: At times I may include affiliate links to useful products that I believe to be beneficial. It doesn't cost you anything and I generate some revenue from it. Learm More
Thursday, November 21, 2013
In 2007 I stopped buying bottled water and started drinking filtered water from a refrigerator pitcher using an insulated sports bottle while exercising and a travel mug while at my desk working. After 333 weeks without buying bottled water I wanted to compare the costs to see if I was actually saving any money.

I was saving quite a bit. Especially when I would grab a single bottle from the store. Those are damn expensive in the long run.

Amount of Water Consumed

This analysis is going to only concern the amount of water I drink while working out using my sports bottle and insulated travel mug.

On average I use my 20 oz insulated sports bottle 3 times a week. This is a conservative estimate. I usually go for a hike or run 3-5 times a week and do other exercises but I have periods where I slack off. Before I go for a run or long hike I'll also drink a glass of water before heading out and then again when I come back but I'm not counting those.

When I'm at my computer working all day I'll fill up my insulated travel mug 2-3 times a day or more and I'll even take it with me when I'm out but there are times where I don't drink as much water as I should. When I'm not drinking water I'm usually drinking healthier soft drinks that I make myself (see my post on how I cut down drinking sugar and HFCS.) On average I fill my travel mug 9 times a week. When I eat a meal at home or at a restaurant I also drink water but I'm not counting those glasses for the purpose of this analysis.

In an average week I'm refilling my sports bottle 3 times and my travel mug 9 times which replaces the 9 bottles of water I used to drink instead. That comes out to 1.85 gallons of water. My comparison is going to be bottle to bottle instead of by gallons.

Cost of Bottled Water

For convenience I used to buy single serving bottles of water. To save money I'd try to buy 24 packs of 1/2 liter bottles when they were on sale but many times I'd stop by a store to pick up a single bottle on my way to the trail if I ran out. Here's a breakdown of cost based on current prices at my local supermarket.

Price Price Per Bottle Price Per Gallon Total Cost
24 Pack .5L Sale Price $3.99 $0.17 $0.89 $664.34
24 Pack .5L Regular Price $5.49 $0.23 $1.22 $914.09
20oz Single Bottle $1.25 $1.25 $6.67 $4,995.00

As you can see buying single bottles of water when you're out and want a drink is very expensive. The cost of bottled water is more than the price of gas!

Cost of Filtered Tap Water

My local water company in NJ claims that tap water costs less than a penny per gallon but they don't factor in the additional sewage fee that is tacked on. In reality the total cost of water comes out to be closer to $0.02 per gallon. For my 20 oz sports bottle/travel mug that winds up being only $0.003 per fill up. 

But the cost of tap water isn't the only cost. I don't like the taste of the water that comes out of my tap so I need to filter it which means I need to buy a filter pitcher and the filter needs to be replaced every 8 weeks. In addition I need a way to transport the water for convenience so I'm not tempted to buy bottled water while I'm out and thirsty. Here's a total breakdown of filtered tap water costs for these last 333 weeks.

Item Quantity Price Total
Tap Water (gallons) 624.38 $0.02 $12.48
Pitcher Filter 1 $24 $24
Filters 42 $4.79 $201.14
Sports Bottle 1 $14 $14
Travel Mug 1 $24 $24
Total $275.62

Over the last 333 weeks I wound up not buying 3,996 bottles of water which makes my cost per bottle $0.07.

Buying 24 packs of bottled water on sale would have been 230% more. Buying 24 packs of water at regular price would have been 354% more and buying individual bottles would have 2,383% more.

Initial Costs

As you can see you can save a lot of money by drinking filtered tap water instead of buying bottled water, especially if you buy a lot of individual bottles of water while you're away from home. And let's face it, you're probably like I was and buying a lot of bottles at the store when grabbing lunch or a snack. It really adds up. The downside with filtered tap water is that you need to spend some money up front. The cost of the water bottle, travel mug, pitcher and filters is a decent amount. It cost me about $70 to get started.

It didn't take me a long time to recoup that investment in savings though. The break even points compared to bottled water on sale was 49 weeks. For regular priced cases of bottled water it was 32 weeks and compared to buying individual bottles of water was only 5 weeks. Given the combination of ways I used to buy water I think it's safe to say I started saving money after about 35 weeks.

Here's a chart showing the cost of water over the 333 weeks.

Other Savings and Benefits

While I have saved quite a bit just by looking at my water consumption during workouts and at the computer, as I mentioned I didn't count all of the glasses of water I drink throughout the day and I get to use filtered water in more places than I used to before such as making coffee and other drinks as well as cooking. It would cost too much to use bottled water but since I already have the pitcher and have ample extra capacity in the filters it's a free bonus.

My water stays colder longer. My sports bottle and travel mug are insulated which keeps the water nice and cold how I like it. Even on long excursions in the summer my water stays cool. Disposable water bottles aren't insulated.

My water is fresh. I used to buy a few cases of water when they went on sale and they would sit in the pantry or garage until they were used. Everything contains bacteria and water is a good place for bacteria to grow. Having unrefrigerated bottled water sitting around for weeks doesn't seem like a good idea to me. Researches in Canada also recently found bottled water to generally have more bacteria than municipal water.

I feel municipal water is safer. Part of the marketing around bottled water concerns its safety and purity but it turns out while my local water utility tests and has their water tested regularly (multiple times a day) bottled water doesn't have nearly as stringent testing and it's primarily the manufacturer's responsibility to assess the quality of their product. 

There is an environmental impact with plastic water bottles and I've kept close to 4,000 bottles from being used over these years. Even though I recycle, there is still energy, resources and pollution involved in recycling. It's better than throwing the used bottles in the trash but not as good as avoiding them completely.

I feel like an idiot for ever falling for the bottled water hype to begin with.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Recent Post

How To Rebuild Credit Score For Free

 A few years ago I went through some rough times and used cash for everything which caused my credit score to drop dramatically. Things star...

Sproxno on Instagram

Follow Sproxno on Instagram

My latest Instagram posts:

Most Reading