With safe drinking water being accessible by all through any tap in Singapore, buying bottled water is an unnecessary extravagance that contributes to needless plastic waste.
The Drink Wise, Drink Tap campaign by Drink Tap SG targets plastic waste by showing Singaporeans that the ordinary can, too, be made extraordinary. In the year of Zero Waste for Singapore, reducing plastic waste is a great green step in the right direction.
All water is equal, but some are more equal than others — such is the irony of water consumption today. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
You probably encounter it every day — like a trusty friend, it does not demand any attention but you can always count on it being there for you whenever you need it. Recognized for its high quality based on World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality, along with the millions invested on water treatment technologies, clean drinking tap water is a privilege for all on our sunny island. In fact, we Singaporeans commonly tell first-time visitors to our country that “safe drinking water is available directly from any tap in Singapore.”
Yet, in a recent survey among 274 respondents, 57% would still intuitively reach out for bottled water when they are thirsty outdoors. Being factory-processed, sealed, and advertised, trust in bottled water triumphs the trust that the general public has in the safety of Singapore’s tap water. But in actual fact, Singapore’s tap water is suitable for drinking directly from the tap without any boiling or further filtration (when not regularly maintained, these filters could even be a source of contamination for your perfectly clean tap water!). Potable water quality is also consistent throughout Singapore regardless of the location, whether you are at home or on the go.
What’s in tap water?
Many tend to wrongly equate tap water to NEWater, Singapore’s high-grade reclaimed water produced from treated used water. In fact, NEWater is but one out of four sources of our tap water. Other sources include imported water, desalinated water, and water from local catchments. The resulting mix is of comparable mineral content to the average bottled drinking water in the supermarket. While the market brims with claims of health benefits such as increased oxygen content and alkalinity, they do not enjoy the backing of any conclusive scientific evidence. The mineral intake you get out of your water consumption is also insignificant, compared to the food you eat.
Is it really less convenient?
The same survey found convenience to be the main driver of bottled water purchase in Singapore. Many overlook tap water from public taps as an alternative drinking water source as it is “not a designated drinking spot” compared to that from water coolers and those served in restaurants. They fail to realize that water from water coolers and water from the tap come from the same pipe, and water served in restaurants is usually tap water with the addition of a few ice cubes. These are essentially the same type of water, just presented in different forms.
Bottled water: A needless extravagance
In other words, drinking bottled water has become a mindless consumption in Singapore. News outlets have also previously reported that major brands such as Dasani and Ice Mountain are sourced from tap water in Malaysia while being many times more expensive than a refill from the tap. If one could take a step back and think about how tap water can perfectly replace bottled water in terms of functionality and quality, we would easily see that it is really just repackaging a basic commodity that we all have access to.
On top of the sheer amount of plastic waste produced, the journey a bottle of water takes from source to market is hugely unsustainable. From sourcing, packaging to transporting, it contributes to wasted energy and global carbon emissions. Additionally, for every liter of bottled water produced, three liters of water is spent and diverted away from consumption. With one in nine people lacking access to safe drinking water, there is great imperative to rethink water consumption habits, and better utilize finite resources.
Drink Wise, Drink Tap
Last year, four undergraduates from Nanyang Technological University teamed up to champion the consumption of tap water when on the go so to cut back on plastic bottled water consumption. Titled Drink Wise, Drink Tap, the team hopes to share knowledge surrounding the safety of Singapore’s tap water while making refilling in public a norm. They recently kickstarted the #IChooseTap movement on Instagram and Facebook where users post pictures of them refilling in public and pass it on to others by tagging a friend.
To make safe drinking tap water more accessible when on the go, they are also looking to work with eateries to provide free tap water refills — although few were willing to come on board at the time. As a conscious consumer, next time you eat out to skip the bottled water and ask for a tap water refill — you never know when you are creating a ripple effect. Best of all, it’s good for your wallet too.
Tap vs Bottled: Is there a difference?
Drink Tap SG did a blind waste taste test to see if Singaporeans could taste the difference between four different types of what. See what the participants had to say:
Tap vs Bottled: Is there a difference? Does tap water really taste bad? Hear what our participants have to say, as they try out 4 types of water in a blind taste test to see if this myth holds true!Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Tag a friend who swears by bottled water!….#DrinkTapSG #byosingapore #ecofriendly #savetheearth #drinkwater #water #tapwater #zerowaste #zerowasteliving #noplastic #oceanconservation #plasticfree #carbonfootprint #plasticfootprint #sustainableliving #zerowastesg #breakfreefromplastic #choosetoreuse #zerowastetips #collapsiblecup #zerowastelifestyle #climateactionsg #consciousconsumer #sustainability
Posted by Drink Tap SG on Monday, 7 January 2019
Tap water in Singapore goes through over 400,000 quality tests every year, from source to tap. While plastic bottled water may be a necessity for some countries without access to safe drinking water, Singapore has absolutely no need for it. Now that you know, cutting plastic from our daily lives doesn’t need to be complicated. It can begin with a #LittleGreenStep — just turn on any tap for safe drinking water.
“It is simple but brilliant,” said Dr. Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, showing her support for this movement to push Singapore towards being zero-waste. Join the #IChooseTap movement today, and make 2019 the year of zero waste.