01/31/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

A New Year's Resolution that is Crystal Clear: Kick Your Bottled Water Habit

It's almost that time again. Time to make your New Year's resolution. So what's it going to be: Quit smoking? Lose weight? Start saving? All good ideas, but you must admit, not very original ...and, in most cases, not very easy to accomplish.

Well here's a new resolution for you. It's easily achievable, it saves you money and it's good for the environment. Kick your bottled water habit! The reasons to quit are as transparent as the product itself.

This year, Americans will spend over $12 billion on bottled water, double what the category sales were only 8 years ago. Why do people continue to spend their hard-earned dollars on a product that flows freely and cleanly from the pipes in their own house? In a single word... Marketing!

The Cola giants got into the bottled water business back in the mid-1990's and have been extremely successful launching brands Aquafina (Pepsi) and Dasani (Coke). Despite the fact that these two brands are not spring water, but simply purified tap water, they make up over 30% of all bottled water sold in the USA. How is that possible? Convenience. The cola companies have a goal to always make a cold beverage available within an arm's reach. They have vending machines and coolers at every deli, every gas station and nearly every school. They have replaced the old public drinking fountain. Why do people drink bottled water - because they make it easy!

Bottled water brands spend hundreds of millions each year to convince people that their sources are cleaner and purer (Poland Spring, Arrowhead, etc.). Others such as Evian and Fiji promote the mystique of their sources, sponsor high profile events and attempt to give their brands cachet. Fiji ran an ad campaign recently, "The label says Fiji because it's not bottled in Cleveland." In response, disgruntled representatives from Ohio had Fiji tested and traces of arsenic were found. Cleveland's water had none.

It's a fact that tap water is regulated by the EPA under much stricter guidelines than the manner in which the FDA monitors bottled water. And a home filter like PUR or Brita can replicate the quality of Aquafina, Dasani and other brands at far less cost. In the current economy, all of us are looking for ways to make our dollars go farther. An investment in a home filter and reusable water bottles for the family can result in saving thousands of dollars on bottled water.

But kicking the bottled water habit can not only help to save you money, it can also help to save the planet. According to the Container Recycling Institute, less than 10% of PET plastic water bottles are actually recycled resulting in over 30 million bottles going into America's landfills - every day! Plastic is particularly dangerous because it is non-biodegradable and eventually becomes part of the food chain. Neil Seldman, a waste recycling expert, has labeled our growing plastic waste problem as, "potentially more dangerous than global warming."

And simply improving our rate of recycling does not solve the problem. "More than 90% of the environmental impacts from a plastic bottle happen before the consumer opens it," states Dr. Allen Hershkowitz, a senior scientist at the NRDC, "Oil for plastic, oil for shipping, oil for refrigeration - and in the end, most of the effort goes to landfills." There was a time back in the 90's when carrying an Evian bottle was considered a fashion accessory or a status symbol. Today, it's a symbol that you're not paying attention to the world around you.

So after you ring in the New Year and while others are applying their nicotine patch or signing up for their new gym membership, tap into a novel idea which protects your savings and protects the planet. Take the challenge to kick your bottled water habit. You'll be surprised at how easy it is.