Tap vs. Bottled Water Consumption by Race

Cynthia Boyd recently reported on Minnpost about a poll finding that bottled water consumption by children varies by race. In fact, the poll found that black and Hispanic parents were 3X more likely to serve their children bottled water rather than tap.

The poll took a look at why this may be happening:

Reasons cited for downing the bottled stuff included believing that it’s safer, cleaner, better-tasting as well as more convenient.

That makes me wonder: how can the exact same water coming from the exact same water treatment plant be trusted so differently by different groups of people?

Boyd points out that the surveyed parents had a large income disparity by race, with white parents bringing home more than twice the income of surveyed minority parents:

For me, those socioeconomic comparisons stand out like blinking neon signs on a moonless desert night. Whites in the survey are better educated and better off financially, thus likely to live in better neighborhoods and healthier housing.

I think Boyd is onto something there. Although I don’t think it’s a question of the health of the water by location. For example, I’m confident that the water that comes out of my home’s taps in Longfellow is the exact same water that comes out of taps in the Hawthorne Neighborhood of North Minneapolis. Both areas of town have similar ages of housing stock, so the plumbing likely isn’t all that much different.

However, there is likely one factor that is significantly different: the age and quality of faucet the water is dispensed from.

I’m willing to bet that a kid is more likely to drink water that has been dispensed from a newer faucet than an older one.

I’m also willing to bet that a kid is more likely to drink cool tap water dispensed from a refrigerator.

Heck, I do the same thing within my own home. I drink water from my kitchen tap, the tap in my bedroom’s bathroom, but would never consider drinking from the tap in the basement workshop. It’s exactly the same water. I know this. But it doesn’t seem as drinkable when it’s dispensed out of a hose into a plastic tub sink. Obviously, few people have workshop sinks as their primary water source, but I do think the last foot of tap water delivery likely plays a roll in tap water consumption rates.

Could upgrading a kitchen faucet or sink increase tap water consumption, thus saving families money while simultaneously improving the quality of the water they consume? I think that could be worth studying.

7 thoughts on “Tap vs. Bottled Water Consumption by Race”

  1. Oddly enough the water that comes out of my kitchen faucet has a distinctive rotten egg smell/chlorine taste where as the bathroom sink three feet away has neither.

    Up until about 4 months ago the faucets and plumbing were the same age. Now after replacing the pipes and faucet itself in the kitchen the taste and order remain.

    No, I can’t explain it but I use the bathroom sink for my drinks instead.

  2. How many of those polled came from or had parents who came from countries where bottled water was the primary source of drinking water?

    Seems like those habits would be hard to break

  3. At the Cub on University, the great majority of people I see using the bottled water refill machine appear to be Asian.

  4. @Phil, I imagine that it would be tough to convince people who don’t trust tap water to come around to the idea. It also may be tough to convince people who’ve had bad experiences with government authority to trust them in this case.

  5. Perception is reality? I used to drink bottled water many years ago until I found out it was just filtered tap water, anyway. Companies like Coke, etc. do an excellent job of marketing their products — not that that is necessarily something good. (lol)

    Also, buying a $1 bottle of water (vs. nearly-free tap water) might be a way, for someone of lower-income, of telling people “I can’t afford an SUV but I can afford this name-brand bottle of water, so I can’t be all that poor!” 😉

  6. for a few weeks in the spring, the tap water smells like fish and rotting leaves, because of the runoff. i’ll admit that i’m just now gearing up to kick the water delivery service habit. that water comes from springs in wisconsin, and i’ve gotten used to the taste of minerals in my water. it’s a luxury, but a luxury that if everybody did it we’d be in trouble, because it is putting free public water at risk . . . so i feel like the ethical thing to do is to give it up.

  7. Pingback: Bottled Water vs Tap Water Poll | Bill Roehl

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