I haven't bought bottled water in almost a decade. In the interest of saving money for our family of five, we pack our own reusable water bottles. I'm apparently in the minority. Kim Jeffery, president and chief executive of Nestle Waters North America, said that bottled water consumption rose in the U.S. from 16 gallons a decade ago to currently 24 gallons per person per year, in a Reuters article this week.
2011 earnings releases for two of the biggest bottled-water producers reported that bottled-water sales also rose during 2011 for Danone Waters, makers of Evian and Volvic and Nestle, sellers of 15 different water brands including Nestle Pure Life, Poland Spring, Deer Park, Perrier and San Pellegrino.
But when it comes to being frugal, handing over $1 (or two to three times that at events and venues) for a bottle of water is a waste of money. "It's a bad habit to think that a dollar here and a dollar there is inconsequential," says David Bach, author of "The Automatic Millionaire."
"Try to become conscious about saving those small amounts of money every day instead of spending them," Bach told me. "That same $2 or $3 saved and added every day, even with today's low savings rates, compounded over the next 40 years, results in hundreds of thousands of retirement dollars. You have to change the way you think about your spending."
And, if you think you're paying for healthier or more pure water, be aware that the bottled water companies are not required by the Food and Drug Administration, which regulates the industry, to publish water quality tests but The Environmental Protection Agency requires water utilities to do so for tap water.
The Environmental Working Group, or EWG, a nonprofit public health and environmental information watch group, encourages consumers to drink tap water that has been filtered using pitcher or tap-mounted filters or those certified to remove contaminants. The EWG recommends choosing a stainless steel bottle to avoid the leaching of a harmful chemical in some hard plastics called bisphenol-A, or BPA, into your water. Plastics that contain BPA have No. 7 stamped into them.
"A little bit of planning on where you are going and what you will be doing that day can (help you to) save your food budget by packing your own healthier drinks," says registered dietitian Elizabeth Ward, author of "MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better."
So give me one good reason why you are still shelling out cash for bottled water?