It’s a common misunderstanding that bottled water is the safer option for drinking water. After all, bottled water companies have spent a lot of time and money creating campaigns that promise nothing.


Many people also make the mistake in assuming that most plastic bottles get recycled. Then, assuming that no harm is being done to the environment, right? Unfortunately, PET plastic (marked with the number 1) water bottles make up half of all the plastic collected by municipal recycling programs, yet only 23% of all water bottles made are recycled. Not to mention that recent studies show that PET plastic breaks down over time and can leach toxins into food, beverages, or even pollute the environment. Similar toxic leaching occurs with other plastic chemicals such as phthalates that are found in BPA plastic, and DEHA a chemical found in the plastics that make up things like cling wrap and produce bags. Like phthalates and DEHA, PET acts as an endocrine disruptor in the body. Studies have linked it directly to liver tumors in mice, as well as to asthma in children and to a wide range of cancers.

Zero-waste water

So, Do You Need Another Reson to Stop Drinking Bottled Water?

Just in case, here are a few more:

  1. Who told you that your tap water wasn’t safe?

    There is no proof to suggest that bottled water is any healthier than tap water. Since bottled water is only regulated by the FDA if it crosses state lines, 70% of bottled water is never tested for contaminates. By contrast, municipal water systems in the United States are highly regulated and frequently tested for harmful bacteria and pollutants.

  2. Bottled water is just filtered tap water. 

    As much as 40% of bottled water sold in the U.S. is simply filtered tap water. Looking for labels like “from a municipal source” or “community water system” are clever ways of sussing out the source of bottled water. But keep in mind that tap water costs about $0.002 per gallon compared to the $0.89 to $8.26 per gallon charge for bottled water. Now, if you are worried about the risks associated with drinking chlorinated or fluorinated water then be sure to stay until the end for a few alternatives.

  3. Plastic bottles are not sustainable.

    Using vast quantities of fossil fuels and water, these bottles are manufactured, filled, and shipped around the globe. Bottles advertised as biodegradable are not sustainable either. Needless to say that what you drink in a few minutes can stick around for a thousand years. Even with the best recycling efforts, 6 out of 7 plastic bottles consumed in the U.S. are sent somewhere out of sight and out of mind in a process called downcycling. For the next millennia or so, toxins are produced from degrading plastic containers that can leach into our water supply and soil.

    Hey, if you are looking for some more easy ways to reduce your waste and boost sustainablilty, check out my blog post here.

  4. Production of bottled water drives up oil costs.

    To make the plastic bottles to meet our demand for water it takes the equivalent of about 17.6 million barrels of oil. That equals to the amount of oil required to fuel more than one million vehicles in the U.S. each year. Around the world, bottling water uses about 2.7 million tons of plastic…each year.

  5. It can take nearly 7 times the amount of water in the bottle to actually make the bottle itself.

    Doesn’t this sound counterproductive? Few companies take the whole water-use picture into account when calculating their average water use. Just as companies are beginning to calculate their carbon footprint, they also need to analyze their water footprint to find opportunities for conservation.

Now, if you are like me and tap water isn’t your cup of tea, either due to the taste or the nasty additives in your local water, then I have a sustainable option for you:

Binchotan charcoal

“What’s fascinating about binchotan is its extreme porosity. It’s filled with countless microcavities, which means it efficiently absorbs impurities from water, air, and even skin.”


Originating in Japan, Binchotan Charcoal has been used for centuries both for cooking at home, and for its purification and restorative properties. Made from oak branches that are fired in ceramic kilns at very high temperatures, binchotan is created when the kiln flames are rapidly smothered in dirt, carbonizing the wood. Over the past decade, binchotan charcoal has been enjoying a renaissance because of its deodorizing and purifying qualities. According to one supplier, “What’s fascinating about bichotan is its extreme porosity. It’s filled with countless microcavities, which means it efficiently absorbs impurities from water, air, and even skin.” This cool little stick absorbs toxins in tap water, like lead, mercury, cadmium, copper, and chlorine, and imparts calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphates. This is super extra greatness since we miss out on minerals found in spring water when drinking purified water. This was one of my first prized finds when I first started a zero-waste Life style. Click here to read my Zero-waste for Beginners blog post.

Update: After a few comments and questions I realized that I forgot to talk about flouride filtration with the use of charcaol filters. While many carbon charcoal filters are not advertised as removing flouride, they do actually remove some flouride from water. You can check out this study to learn more. For my family, our goal is to reduce our overall exposure to toxins while being mindful of our waste output as well. Seeing as how bottled water is mostly filtered tap water, we can’t really be sure with out testing how much flouride is in each plastic bottle anyway. On an average day, we drink spring water that is delivered from the company Mountain Valley Spring. But, while traveling I am more than happy to refill our water bottles, sippy cups, and mason jars with tap water that has been filtered with a binchotan stick.



Click here to order your very own Kishu Binchotan charcoal stick. It is recommended to replace your water filter every 6 months. But don’t let that convince you that it isn’t a sustainable option. The greatness of these little charred bits don’t stop with water purification.

Here is a whole list of things that you can use your charcoal stick for after it’s liquid lifespan:

Toxin Remover:

We seem to forget that we bathe in the same tap water that we are afraid to drink. Adding a stick of binchotan to the bath will remove impurities. The charcoal is a source of far infrared rays which also enhances blood circulation, some say.

Air Purifier:

Binchotan produces negative ions, much like salt, which it then releases into the atmosphere. You can gather a few sticks in a jar by your bed for a deeper night’s sleep, or on your desk to relax the mind.

Damp Defier:

Place a piece of binchotan anywhere to absorb dampness. Be sure to dry out the stick in sunlight every few weeks.

Electromagnetic Wave Absorber:

Worried about electromagnetic waves from computers, microwaves, EFT’s and mobile phones? Placing a piece of binchotan nearby will absorb these waves. According to one company, “Binchotan works as a balancing factor for body and mind through the flood of negative ions it emits, which turns nearby metals magnetic.”

Odor Neutralizer:

Place charcoal, in a refrigerator, in your gym shoes or next to a litter box to absorb unwanted odors.

Termite Repeller:

Termites thrive on heat and humidity; something binchotan charcoal absorbes.

Soil Booster:

Binchotan is the ultimate composter add in. When you have finished with the charcoal sticks completely and have no other use, grind them up and add them to your soil as an enricher. Or, at the very least, to deoderize the compost pile.


I remember using a Brita filter for quite a long time before I decided to overhaul our water supply. What do you use to ensure safe and clean drinking water for your family? 


Until next time,