Money & Career

Stop drinking bottled water and save hundreds of dollars

Ditching your bottled water habit is good for the environment, and it can save you money. Our money expert has eight tips for making the switch.

Masterfile

Hey Canada, it’s time to stop hitting the bottle — the water bottle, that is. Too many of us are cracking open a plastic bottle instead of turning on the taps, and that’s costing us a lot of money (not to mention creating even more waste). Statistics Canada says that about three in 10 Canadian households use bottled water as their main source of drinking water at home. And if you have kids, you’re even more likely to rely on the bottle for your daily water intake.

How much is bottled water costing us?  Let’s crunch some numbers.

I found a case of store-brand water (24 small 500 ml bottles in total) for $4.99. Assuming a Canadian family of four consumes 12 bottles a day, that’s around $17.50 a week, or over $900 a year. And that’s not to mention the 84 plastic bottles that would end up in the garbage at the end of each week.  

Of course, that’s the cheap stuff — I found a local grocery store offering six 330-ml bottles of a popular French brand of still water for $8.29. Let’s assume you’re single and drinking three bottles of the fancy stuff a day — that’s about $29 a week and over $1,500 a year. For that much, you could hop on a plane to the French Alps and get your own glass of H20!

While I am sure there are cheaper sources of bottled water out there, that’s not my point: there are greener — and free — ways to have tasty and safe water on hand all the time. Here are just a few ideas to get you started:

1. Tote your own water: Water is even more expensive in convenience stores and restaurants. My local coffee chain offers bottled water for around $2.50 a bottle — more expensive than a basic cup of their already pricey java. Don’t even get me started on the airport, where a big bottle of water to tote onto the plane can set you back seven or eight bucks in some cities.

Instead, opt to buy a safe portable water bottle and keep it filled. There are a host of durable stainless steel models out there that are designed to hook onto your bag and keep your water cold all day.

2. Keep a jug of water in the fridge: This is the easiest way to have constant access to nice, cold water. If you’re used to reaching into the fridge for a plastic bottle, simply keep a jug full and refrigerated and opt for a glass of cold water instead.

3. Boil your water: If you don’t like the taste of your water, or you’re concerned about toxins and chlorine, boiling your water first will help. Boil it up and let it cool on the counter — or boil it then store it in the fridge to keep it cold and refreshing.

4. Leave it on the counter overnight:
In summertime, our water cam smell like a swimming pool. That’s because of the chlorine that is added to keep it clean, especially in the hot weather. Did you know that leaving your water on the counter for a few hours actually allows all the chlorine to evaporate? It’s a cheap way to improve the taste of your water without much fuss.

5. Make your own fancy water: If you’re used to popping a bottle of Perrier when you entertain, consider an alternative. Instead of spending your money on bottled water, fill a jug with tap water and add slices of lemon, lime or orange to kick up the flavour and make your water look pretty on the table.

6. Buy a filter: A basic filter system like a Brita is a great way to keep your fridge stocked with cold, cheap water. I found one online for as low as $19.99 — it’s a much cheaper alternative to bottled water and it will take out any impurities. Sure, changing the filter will set you back a few bucks a pop, but it’s still cheaper than the bottle alternative.

7. Install a filtration system: If you want to take water filtration to another level, then you can buy either a filter that attaches to your tap or a system that filters water throughout your house. There are many different kinds of systems — not all of them cheap. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation has a good rundown of what to look for and which systems do what.

8. Test your water: If you’re worried about the quality and safety of your water, then get it tested. You can either buy a kit to test for basic contaminants or you can check out Health Canada’s site for more information about what could be in your water and how to test for it.