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Water challenge aims to tap into misconceptions

Zach Watson / Lantern reporter

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Bottled water and tap water went toe-to-toe – or cup-to-cup – in Tap That!, a taste challenge that pitted the two against each other to inform students about the consequences of drinking bottled water and to debunk the myth that bottled water tastes better than tap water.

The event, organized by Students for Recycling, was held Monday in the Lounge Space of the Center for Student Leadership and Service at the Ohio Union.

“Bottled water really does have an impact on the environment, just because of the amount of waste that is generated by the plastic itself and a lot of it’s not recycled,” said Jessie Fears, a fourth-year in environmental science.

Evan Boylan, a third-year in anthropology, presented a slideshow about the impacts of bottled water consumption. He said that when he participated in the Zero Waste initiative at Ohio Stadium, drivers of the trash trucks taking waste to the landfill talked about plastic bottles taking up a large amount of space.

Boylan said tap water is tested multiple times per day for coliform bacteria, while bottled water is only tested once a week. Coliform bacteria is an indicator of the sanitary quality of food and water. The statistic was confirmed by the National Resources Defense Council website.

“If you do the research into it, you will see that tap water is, if not even more healthy, at least just as healthy as bottled water,” Boylan said.

The group had a mission to prove that bottled water and tap water taste the same. Attendees participated in a taste test to determine the similarity for themselves.

Students drank each type of water from separate, unlabed Dixie cups and, after sampling bottled water and tap water, were asked to give their opinion on which water tasted better.

Stacey Steigerwald, a fourth-year in international studies and economics, said she was surprised that she preferred the tap water.

Jordyn Sesock, a first-year in psychology, and Cody Salyi, a first-year in biochemistry, were disappointed they chose bottled water as the better tasting beverage.

“I think we wanted to choose the tap water since it’s better nowadays,” Salyi said. “I thought I knew which one was which, but I was wrong.”

Some students, though, said they didn’t notice a difference between the two samples.

“They tasted the same,” said Lisa Racine, a second-year in sociology.

Still, Racine said she prefers some brands of bottled water.

“Some bottled water tastes better,” she said.

Despite the differing opinions, the victory went to tap water, which won by a margin of 17 to 9. Seven students were undecided as far as their personal preferences.

Students who participated in the event left with reusable water bottles, which Fears said she hoped would be filled with tap water in the future.

“I think it’s important for people and students as … consumers to really know what choices they’re making and how much more they’re spending for bottled water when they could just be getting tap water for a very, very small fraction of the cost,” Fears said.

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