Natural spring water is a luxury that few can afford, but I used to use five litres a day. I’d even hand wash my knickers in it. Before you jump to conclusions, I’d like to say that I’m not a diva. For the seven years I lived off-grid on a narrowboat, my drinking water mostly came from a spring that flowed from the hillside into the canal, and I collected it by bicycle every few days. In clement weather I would sit at the spring and wash my smalls like a wild washerwoman. When I moved back onto dry land, I vowed to never again take running water for granted. But what is actually in our tap water? I’d never really considered it until my ancient lead pipe work cracked, and I started to question just how pure our drinking water is. As well as potential contamination from heavy metals, some water companies add chemicals such as fluoride. A recent study of tap water around the globe found microplastic particles in 83% of samples. Buying bottled water is obvously not good for your wallet or the environment (if you need any persuasion, see this guide from Ethical Consumer). Time to invest in a water filter!
Water Filter Systems
After a lot of research, we decided to buy a British Berkefeld water filter. It is made in the UK from stainless steel and uses ceramic ‘candle’ filters manufactured by Royal Doulton. The gravity fed filter promises to remove an impressive range of bacteria, cysts, heavy metals, organic and inorganic compounds. Filters need replacing every 6-12 months. A couple of friends have opted for The Berkey, which is a similar system made in the USA. The kit is more expensive but their black carbon filters can last for up to eleven years.
If you haven’t got enough space in the kitchen and need a jug, these PearlCo jugs from a fine choice are made of glass but use disposable plastic filters. Although Brita jugs are made from plastic, their filter cartridges are recyclable at some branches of retailers such as Argos and Sainsburys. For a simpler plastic-free option you can use bamboo charcoal filters in your own water jug or bottle. These bamboo filters from Charcoal People are even delivered wrapped in tissue paper! Black & Blum make a stylish handblown carafe with a binchotan active charcoal filter, and sell replacement filters in sets of 3 or 5. When we are on holiday this spring I’m going to pop a couple of charcoal filters into my luggage to freshen up the city tap water while we are on the move. I’m also planning on making a pilgrimage to one of the many free sparkling water drinking fountains in Paris.*
If you’re looking for something to store your water in while you’re on the move, a stainless steel bottle is a great option. Klean Kanteen are a US based company who make a great range of colourful stainless steel bottles with a variety of interchangable caps. We use their spill-proof 12oz ‘Sippy’ bottles for our three-year-old’s lunchbox and on his bedside table. Welsh company Babipur do a good range of Klean Kanteen goodies (including steel, swing-top and bamboo lids if you want to be totally plastic-free) and I’ve always found their customer service to be excellent.
2018 is the year to tackle the plastic water bottle problem! With water companies and councils pledging to introduce drinking fountains, it seems like some progress is being made. My new years resolution was to go the whole of 2018 without buying bottled water. With new schemes such as the Refill project growing in popularity, hopefully I won’t end up dehydrated!