As well as the mainstream bottled water brands, we have covered five charity water brands: Belu, One Water, Life, Thirsty Planet and Co-op Fairbourne Springs, whose sales fund clean water projects.
Price Comparison of the chairty brands of still water:
||p per 100ml
|Co-op Fairbourne Springs
Mineral, spring or table?
Mineral and spring water must come from an underground source and be bottled at source. They must both be labelled with the name of the spring and its location.
Spring water can be processed to remove pollution or minerals. Mineral water cannot undergo any treatment apart from the addition of carbon dioxide to make it fizzy. It must also contain certain levels of minerals and the source must have undergone two years of frequent microbiological testing.
‘Table’, ‘mountain’ or ‘natural water’ is usually filtered tap water. In a classic real-life version of ‘Peckham Spring’ as sold by Del Boy in Only Fools & Horses, companies even sell us bottled tap water. Most famously, Coke tried, in 2004, to sell us its Dasani brand of ‘purified’ tap water (‘Dasani’ appropriately means ‘nothing’). That brand only lasted five weeks over here but it is still one of the bestselling brands in the USA.
Look on the label to see whether it says ‘spring’ water or ‘mineral’ water. If not, it may just be tap water.
Sparkling water may have carbon dioxide added to it, like San Pellegrino and Highland Spring, or it may be naturally sparkling at its source like Badoit. For Perrier, the water and the carbonic gas are captured separately from the same geological formation, but they are extracted at different depths; the gas is then filtered before being added to the water.
Naturally carbonated waters will have a lower carbon footprint and environmental impact.
What to do about Sparkling water
Whilst bottled still water is easily replaced with tap water the same cannot be said of sparkling water. And if you are going to have a fizzy drink, sparkling, plain water is better than a fizzy sugary drink.
The answer is to make it yourself from tap water but this solution has been made much more difficult because of the SodaStream boycott, virtually the only manufacturer of sparkling water machines.
The SodaStream boycott
This Israeli drinks manufacturer has long been a target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, launched by Palestinian civil society organisations in 2005. Its principal manufacturing plant used to be located in the illegal West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, to the east of Jerusalem.
But, in 2015, SodaStream left the West Bank citing commercial considerations, with the transferral of operations to a factory in the Southern Negev region of Israel.
BDS campaigners argued that the company’s withdrawal from the West Bank was a testament to their efforts, with SodaStream’s links to the settlement economy an embarrassment internationally. In 2013, CEO Birnbaum even admitted the factory’s location had become “a pain in the ass.”
But SodaStream’s new factory is situated in Lehavim, close to the city of Rahat, a township in the Negev where many Bedouins have been forced to relocate to by the Israeli state, and which is blighted by high unemployment and is lacking in basic services and infrastructure.
The boycott of SodaStream continues because BDS argue that the company is complicit in the displacement of Bedouin Palestinians.
Alternatives to SodaStream
There are other counter-top machines such as Drinkmate, Isoda, or Limo Bar. Or there is the cheaper and lower tech Bubblecap which you just screw onto a used plastic bottle. But it’s hard to get the replacement CO2 canisters that charge these machines without using SodaStream’s.
You can avoid SodaSteam altogether by buying an old fashioned-style soda siphon and smaller CO2 cartridges to charge it. Catering and bar suppliers sell these siphons and cartridges, such as Nisbets, Cream Supplies and Drink Stuff. Austrian company Isi make glass, aluminium or stainless steel ones which sell at £30 upwards. The CO2 cartridges are about 30p each. The only downside is that the cartridges are disposable, but they are made from steel so can be recycled.
Or you can make fizzy water yourself following instructions and videos on the internet. These either involve using homebrewing type equipment like kegs, regulators and CO2 tanks or you can go ultra-low tech and use old plastic bottles, vinegar and baking soda and rely on a bit of home chemistry.