My diatribe against bottled water

I’ve had a lot of e-mail in response to my attack on bottled water, published as an Op-Ed in the New York Times (and the IHT, where you can still read it). Most people agreed with my stance. I heard from a dentist who pointed out that tap water has another advantage over bottled water that I did not mention: it contains fluoride which strengthens teeth. (That said, many people object to fluoridisation, for reasons I have never quite understood, particularly since some mineral waters contain higher levels of fluoride naturally.) A chemical engineer said he never drinks bottled water, since it is more likely than tap water to contain bacteria, and gets his children to refill water bottles from the tap. And a teacher wanted to know which water charity I recommended giving money to (my answer: Water Aid). Some people complained that their tap water tasted bad; fair enough, but I still recommend a blind tasting. Bottled water can taste bad too. Also, you could always try filtering your tap water. Other people noted that groundwater can be contaminated, so tap water is not always better than bottled water. True; but bottled water is not the answer to bad tap water, or is at least one of the least good answers I can think of. There are all kinds of clever filters being invented out there to deal with arsenic poisoning in particular. That kind of approach makes much more sense than resorting to expensive bottled water shipped around on lorries. I also heard about Ethos Water, an “ethical” bottled water firm; isn’t that a step in the right direction? So I have put answers to all these questions, and a few more besides — Where can you buy Roman wine? Why is my book not published in Britain? — on a new “Six Glasses FAQ” page.

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