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Empty or near-empty shelves have become one of the many symbols of the coronavirus epidemic – a clear sign that things are not the same as they once were.

And not just one or two shelves. Go into virtually any supermarket or grocery store across America, and unless they have just finished stocking for the day, you’re going to see rows and rows of shelves devoid of product. It’s an unsettling sight, one that visibly drives home the reality of a situation we’ve never seen before.

Among the most consistently empty shelves are the ones housing bottled water. Even with many stores enacting a two-per-customer limit, bottled water is flying out of the stores as fast as toilet paper. Frankly, it’s all unnecessary, because there is a far better alternative to bottled water, especially during the current health climate: filtered water. Why?

  • By filtering your own water directly from your tap, you will not run out or face empty shelves waiting to be restocked.
  • It will give consumers one less reason to go to the supermarket and practice good social distancing. A recent article in Forbes states, “Shoppers should avoid standing in long lines at crowded supermarkets in order to stock up [on bottled water]; it’s much safer to stay away from large groups of people to avoid transmitting or contracting the virus.”

You can use filtered water pitchers, countertop systems, reverse osmosis systems, you name it, all have pros and cons; you just have to find the system that best suits your needs.

If cost is a factor, filtered water pitchers and countertop systems are very cost-effective choices. These systems will remove most harmful contaminants while leaving the beneficial minerals intact, with price ranges anywhere from $20-$99, depending on brand. Filtered pitchers and countertop systems are economical tools for producing water that is virtually contaminant-free with no bad smell or taste and are a great replacement for single use water bottles.


Reverse osmosis systems will produce even cleaner water, but at a much higher price point - in the high hundreds, even thousands, of dollars, and have a higher wastewater impact.

Although using filtered water is undoubtedly a great way to stay out of stores while avoiding the frustration of empty shelves, there are additional reasons to choose it over bottled water. Recent news reports have shown that microplastics, chromium, PFAS, arsenic, pharmaceuticals and other agriculture runoff are showing up in bottled drinking water. Further, the environmental impact of single use plastics is staggering. A recent article in Fast Company notes that around the globe, people are using almost 500 billion plastic water bottles per year, a  number predicted to grow to 580 billion by 2021 - with each bottle taking about 450 years to decompose.

It should be noted that, according to the same Forbes article, coronavirus poses no threat to the water supply. So why not just use regular tap water? The truth is, some bottled water isn’t even as pure as tap water. Nevin Cohen, a professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health who focuses on urban food policy, is quoted as saying, “Public water supplies in the U.S. are heavily regulated, and with some high-profile exceptions - like the Flint water supply - are safe and in many ways more heavily regulated than bottled drinking water.”

But while it may be safer than bottled drinking water, tap water can contain a number of contaminants – chlorine, lead, chloramines, mercury, and volatile organic compounds - which, though they might be at levels considered safe according to EPA guidelines, can prove toxic and are better off removed. Plus, the testing is normally done right at the water treatment facility. Consider: how far does the water have to flow to reach your tap, and what is the condition of the infrastructure it must pass through? This creates additional opportunities for contamination that is easily resolved with most filters.

So, filtering water can not only help in this time of coronavirus, it can be the start of a healthier lifestyle even after this crisis is over. On other words, using filtered water is a beneficial practice anytime; this would be a great time to start.

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