School is about to start and with that comes new supplies and the beginning of sports. This is also the best time to invest in a sport bottle to keep our kids and us hydrated while out on the field, or just for our daily routine. Many people buy bottled water for the convenience alone, while others think that water out of bottles with pictures of mountain streams must surely be more pure than their tap water.

The Environmental Protection Agency strictly regulates the codes and standards on tap water, while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates bottled water. Many bottled water distributors actually fill plastic bottles with the tap water in their facilities, which is perfectly legal. For example, both Pepsi's "Aquafina" and Coca-Cola's "Dasani" bottled waters are essentially bottles filled with tap water from their distribution plants.

If the bottled water you typically purchase does not have any of the notable distinctions below on the label then most likely it is tap water from the distribution company.

• Artesian Water: Comes from tapping an aquifer in which the water level stands above the top of the water source. In other words, the tap is skimming the purest water off of the top of an aquifer (like an underground river) which then goes into a well and through a purification process. (Most of the City of Independence water is sourced from an aquifer and came in third place (Bronze) in the World at the 2012, 22nd Annual Berkeley Springs International Water Tasting Festival in West Virginia. Competition is very expensive to enter, so municipalities typically only enter every few years.)

• Mineral Water: Comes from a source tapped at one or more boreholes or springs, originating from a geologically and physically protected underground water source. Mineral water is distinguished from other types of water by its constant level and relative proportions of minerals and trace elements from the source. No minerals may be added to this water.

• Purified Water: Has been produced by distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis, or other artificial process that meets the definition of "purified water" in the United States.

• Spring Water: Derived from an underground formation from which water flows naturally to the surface of the earth.

• Sparkling Water: After water treatment, carbon dioxide may or may not be replaced to contain the same amount of CO² as when it was taken from the source. Sparkling water may come from all of the sources mentioned above and should be labeled as such. For example: Sparkling mineral water, sparkling spring water, etc.

It is estimated that Americans buy 28 billion bottles of water a year and 80 percent of those end up in a landfill…every year. That’s almost twenty-two and a half billion bottles of a resource that could be recycled…each year. If the bottles were connected end-to-end, they could reach from the earth to the moon and back over eleven times!

So, keep your family on the green-side of life, purchase a few refillable sport bottles and use your own tap water. They’ll be just as convenient and healthy as the store-bought, pre-filled type and they’re guilt free! Go Green!

-- Lynn Youngblood is the Executive Director of the Blue River Watershed Association in Kansas City, Missouri. Reach her at