Ditch the Tap, Forget the Plastic: 4 Bulk Water Benefits That May Surprise You

By Alexandria Jenkins

If you’re drinking out of your kitchen tap, you might want to reconsider. A study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) shows that there’s a 25% chance that your tap water is either unsafe or hasn’t been properly monitored for contaminants in accordance with federal law, and the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Infrastructure Report Card has graded America’s drinking water a D every year since 2013.

The EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act identifies contaminants and sets limits on each type of contaminant to determine what is safe for public health. While these EPA regulations in place to protect our drinking water, this is not a fool-proof system. Tap water still has remnants of chemicals, toxins, and contaminants that aren’t meant to be ingested.

Bryan Laird, Water Quality Expert at Primo Water, notes “All tap water is not unsafe and most tap tests meet the current EPA standards. However, there are contaminants such as lead, perfluorochemicals (PFCs), arsenic, chromium, nitrates, and more that are sometimes found in drinking water. Some of these contaminants are caused by industry and agriculture and some are naturally occurring. PFCs and lead are the major concerns.”

Homes built before 1986 are more likely to contain lead than are homes built after, and this lead can seep into drinking water depending on how long water stays in the pipes, the amount of lead the water comes into contact with, temperature of the water, and the level of protective coatings within plumbing materials. The Environmental Defense Fund estimates that as many as 10 million homes in the US get their tap water through lead pipes.

You can find out what contaminants have been found in your local tap water by entering your zip code into the Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database.

Knowing that your family may be exposed to contaminants like arsenic, chloroform, and lead in tap water— what can you do to change how your family drinks water?

Switching to purified water is one way to avoid dangerous chemicals found in tap water. Single-serve plastic water bottles, gallon jugs, filters, or pitchers are all tap alternatives, but these come at a great cost and contribute to unnecessary plastic waste. There is evidence that purified water in bulk—that is, water in multi-gallon bottles or run through a dispenser—is not only safer, but buying it at this volume can also be quite sustainable. Let’s take a look at four benefits of purified bulk water that may surprise you.

4 benefits of bulk water

1. Water quality

Typically, water that can be purchased in a store or from a delivery service has been purified using a filtration or distillation method to remove harmful substances found in tap.

Filtration systems such as those that attach to your tap water spout, built-in refrigerator filters, or filtered pitchers of water are good at removing some toxins, but they’re not designed to do the heavy lifting of removing bacteria and viruses that distillers and reverse osmosis systems (RO) do. While water filtration systems work to remove only sediment, taste, and odor, and possibly reduce the presence of certain contaminants found in water, RO systems work by pushing water under pressure through a semipermeable membrane.

Laird explains, “Purifiers such as reverse osmosis and distillation units “filter” to a molecular level. RO membranes reject dissolved solids such as mineral salts and metals in addition to bacteria, viruses, and cysts. Distillation systems boil the water and then capture the cooled water vapor as pure condensate. Impurities aren’t vaporized and are left behind and microbiological impurities are killed by the heat.” In fact, according to the CDC, water purification systems like these rated highly effective in eliminating contaminants, including bacteria and viruses, from water.

Photo by Karim Ghant

2. The cost of purified bulk water

While the initial cost of buying an in-home water dispenser may seem like a big investment, it can actually save money long-term. Let’s run the numbers.

A 24-pack of single-serve bottles costs between $5 and $10. On average, a family of four drinks about 15 gallons of water per month, equaling approximately five cases of single-serve bottles (many of which are not BPA free or recycled)—that’s almost $50 dollars a month, or $600 dollars per year. But consider that these single-serve and gallon water bottles are commonly made from polyethylene terephthalate (Pet), which take 400 years to naturally decompose.

With bulk water, buying a high-end dispenser at, say, $300 dollars plus the cost of bulk water for one year is approximately $540. The bulk option is slightly cheaper than buying certain brands of plastic single-serve bottles. After the initial cost of the dispenser, the yearly cost of bulk water can be less than $350, almost half the cost of the single-serve bottle option.

3. The sustainability of bulk water

According to a plastics report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, plastic production increased 20 fold from 1950 to 2014 and is expected to continue to rise.

Single-use plastic bottles and gallon jugs are undoubtedly problematic for the environment. Plastic sits in landfills for nearly 400 years or ends up floating in our oceans, and it’s predicted that by 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans. In single-serve bottle terms, 15 gallons of water consumed by a family of four would waste about 568 single-serve bottles each month, or 1,440 per year.

4. The convenience of purified bulk water

Americans shop first for taste, then price and health. After these factors are considered, convenience is key.

In 2017, the average American family took about one and a half trips to the grocery store each week. And as pick-up and delivery services become more common at grocery stores like Walmart and Target, there’s no doubt that convenience matters, especially when it comes to grocery shopping.

Having a supply of purified water in the home can not only save you trips to the store, there is also evidence that bulk water can increase the amount of water you drink. In a study conducted on behalf of Primo Water, it was found that bulk water families drink 25% more water than non-bulk households.

There's More Where This Came From


46 Easy Ways to Save Money at Home

In need of saving money at home? In this article, House Method explains 46 ways that you can start saving today.

Read More

130 Years Later, the Inventors of the Room Thermostat Turn Up the Heat

Johnson Controls, the father of the modern room thermostat, has released its first smart home thermostat, GLAS, which not only learns temperature preferences, it also monitors energy use and indoor and outdoor air quality.

Read More

How to Get Better Sleep During the Holidays

The rush of the holidays is no reason to find yourself sleep deprived come January 1. See our top 9 tips for getting a great night’s sleep all holiday season long.

Read More

Smart Water Monitoring for the 21st Century Home

Meet the new smart home device that catches water leaks early, automatically shuts off your water in the event of an emergency, and monitors water use and pressure with impeccable detail.

Read More

How to Host Last-Minute Guests

Entertaining in your home doesn’t have to be expensive, labor intensive, or formal. The best gatherings are often informal affairs, sometimes thrown together at the last minute. Here’s how you can master the art of hosting last-minute guests.

Read More

A Bathroom Scale for the Design-Conscious Smart Home

The best bathroom scale for a minimalist home. The smart home scale provides weight, BMI, and body composition and works with smart devices and its app to help you—and up to five household members—easily manage weight.

Read More

How to Create a Mindful Space in the Home and Relieve Stress

Creating a mindful space in the home can improve concentration, keep stress and anxiety levels down, and help you focus on the present. Here are 8 tips to help you create a mindful space at home.

Read More

How to Use CBD Oil Around the Home

Cannabidiol, otherwise known as CBD oil, has increased in popularity—yet many people are left wondering what it is or how it works. As it finds its way into homes across the country, it’s time to consider what CBD has to offer.

Read More

What You Didn’t Know About Your Floors: The Surprising Truth Behind Carpets and Hardwoods

Even though hardwoods are thought to be safer and cleaner than carpet, they may not be as safe as you think. We reviewed the health implications of carpets and hardwoods and talked to a few allergy experts about which flooring type is better for your health.

Read More

By continuing to browse or by clicking “OK” you agree to the storing of first- and third-party cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. Privacy Policy.