‘You shouldn’t buy bottled water because it’s a waste of money as you can get the same water from the tap.’ Have you ever had anyone say that to you? Well I certainly have and I know people that will choose a fizzy drink or juice drink with a meal deal so they ‘get their money’s worth’ as they don’t think there is any value to natural source water. Because it’s the same as tap water right? And that’s free. Well I’ve been doing a lot of research to find out if any of this is true. Ad- this is a paid campaign.
Recently I was flown up to the gorgeous Ochil Hills in Scotland to meet with a representative of the Natural Hydration Council and visit the Highland Spring bottling plant to find out more about Natural Source Waters, where they come from, what they are and why they are worth spending money on. Let’s first address the myth that tap water and natural source water is the same. Tap water is ground water, (from deep wells) or surface water, (reservoirs etc) that has been to a treatment plant and put through a 7 stage process of cleaning using various chemicals to make it safe for consumption. Natural source water in the UK is either spring or mineral water that has been filtered down through the rocks, purifying it and adding minerals naturally which is then taken directly from deep underground, by boreholes drilled far into the ground. It has to be safe to drink and bottled at source with absolutely no chemical treatment. The surrounding land is very well looked after to ensure this, and in the case of Highland Spring, is even certified as organic by the soil association, meaning that there are no pesticides and chemicals lurking in there. The water is all rigorously tested and bottled at source to make sure there is no contamination.
So, packaging, obviously this is a hot topic at the moment and people are rightfully concerned. Legally, natural source water has to be safe to drink at and bottled at source into food safe containers, which can include PET plastic, glass or cans. Companies are very aware of the reputation that plastic has but I actually learnt an awful lot from my visit that surprised me, and I have been trying to make myself more aware for years. All natural source water companies have done an awful lot of research and have realised that when you take into account the environmental effect of emissions from transportation and the varying recycling options available to us across the UK as a whole, plastic bottles are actually the most environmentally friendly overall. Providing the consumers help by doing their bit to recycle them appropriately after use.
The lightweight PET plastic bottles that all natural source water producers use arrive at the bottling plants in shrunken form, meaning that they can transport more in fewer journeys, unlike glass or cans which come fully formed, cutting down on emissions. The bottling machines then warm and air blow the bottles to full size in molds before filling with water. The plastic is all food grade safe, doesn’t leech into the water and contrary to what I’d always believed, it is totally safe to drink the water from them if they have been left in a hot car! One thing that all natural source water companies are interested in is whether their bottles can be recycled. They rely on the land being free of pollution for their water to stay pure and therefore it is not just the wish to minimise environmental impact but good business sense for them to ensure that they are constantly striving to improve their eco footprint. I witnessed this firsthand with Highland Spring are not only dedicated to caring for the land and the abundant wildlife that thrives under their protection, but they have also recently brought our their eco bottle, made completely from recycled plastic, something that hasn’t been achieved before, and 100% of the bottles all natural source water producers use can be recycled in any recycling plant in the UK. Often the alternatives that are being offered to replace plastic can only be recycled in certain parts of the country which actually makes the problem worse.
From a personal angle, I grew up with a spring water source in my house and it was always the tastiest water, whenever I was away, I really looked forward to coming home and used to buy bottled water when I went to stay with my grandparents in London as I thought the water tasted so ‘chemical-y’ and the floating layer of film on a cup of tea there used to really put me off! If you look at overall health benefits, not only are the natural source waters free of the chemicals used to treat and clean tap water, they are often full of extra minerals and are also the most sensible option when it comes to your body. Humans are up to 60% water and it is vital that we drink enough to maintain adequate hydration for a myriad of health reasons. If you are choosing from the drinks available in most shops, water is going to be your healthiest option in comparison to the sugar laden fruit flavour juices, fizzy drinks and milkshakes, important in a country where obesity is a big problem, not to mention better for your teeth!
I have really learnt the value of natural source waters and have had my mind put at rest somewhat about the plastic bottles, as long as we, the consumers, make sure we recycle the bottles after we use them, they can be repurposed. The message here is not that we should choose bottled water over tap, both have their place, but more that anyone that chooses to buy bottled water isn’t demonised. There is a difference, it is a healthier option than a juice drink and there is value to the water.