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    What’s Really in Bottled Water? continued...

    “It’s often a question of palatability -- a lot of municipal water has some residual chlorine taste,” says Craig Mains, an engineering scientist at the National Environmental Services Center at West Virginia University. “But there’s a lot you can do to improve the taste and quality of your tap water.”

    • Refrigerate. “Just putting a pitcher of water in the fridge for awhile will remove the chlorine taste that bothers many people,” Mains says.
    • Boil. If you’re worried about contaminants in your water, boiling the water is an inexpensive way to remove microbes.
    • Filter. There are many types of water filters available. You can buy water pitchers with built-in filters or filters to attach to your faucet. These are inexpensive options, ranging from $20 to about $60. Many refrigerators also come with filters for their water dispensers. Water filters can also make tap water safer for small children and people with compromised immune systems.
    • Mega-filter. You can buy a whole-house reverse osmosis filtration system from a company like Culligan for about $1,000, plus a monthly service cost that includes filter replacement. Culligan claims that this works out to about six cents per gallon of filtered water.

    Enjoy Bottled Water the Green Way

    If you still love your bottled water, how can you make it more economical and environmentally friendly?

    • Buy a dispenser and have large 5-gallon jugs delivered to your office or home. The company picks up and drops off the jugs, so there’s no recycling problem. Although it’s still more expensive than tap water, bottled water is much cheaper bought in large quantities.
    • Get a reusable sports bottle (the metal ones made by companies like Thermos and Klean Kanteen cost between $10 and $20), and fill it with water from your home dispenser to use on the go.
    • Recycle your bottles. “Plastic water bottles are every bit as recyclable as your newspaper, but many people don’t remember,” says Jim Karrh, formerly the chief marketing officer for Mountain Valley Spring Company. “The benefit of bottled water is portability, and when you’re out at the park or driving around, where do you recycle that bottle?” Instead of tossing it in the trash, hold on to your bottle until you get home or to a recycling bin.

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