In the Netherlands, tap water is very drinkable and very cheap. We run our tap water through a Brita water filter -- the tap water in Nijmegen is high in calcium content, and it's much sweeter when filtered. (And we don't have to descale our coffee and tea kettles as often. In fact, our tea kettle has never been descaled!)
In contrast, bottled water is about 1000 times more expensive, and the requirements for mineral water are more lax than for tap water! And if you live in Tilburg, your tap water gets packaged in plastic bottles and sold at a premium, because it's just that good. But add the cost and the tax on the environment (producing the plastic, transporting the water, empty bottles), and bottled water just isn't a good idea.
At home, we pour the water from the filtering carafe. But if we go somewhere, we have to use plastic bottles. So we find ourselves buying bottled water so we can fill the empty bottles with our own (filtered) tap water. But these bottles are not designed for refilling, and so after a few weeks the whole bacteriological state of the bottle is kinda iffy. So it was time to look for washable water bottles!
I joined jointhepipe.org, which sells tapwater bottles and places water taps in the streets -- using the proceeds to finance water wells in places where drinking water is scarce. You get a water bottle with your membership, and according to the sticker I got with it, I helped finance a well right here.
The bottle itself (priced EUR 15) is a of an attractive sturdy blue translucent plastic, with a nice thick rubber carrying band. The bottle comes in three parts: the main cylindrical container, the mouthpiece which you can screw onto the container, and a cap that you screw onto the mouthpiece. Because the mouthpiece can be removed, you can wash the bottle thoroughly (dishwasher proof!) and re-use it many, many times. It looks quite hip -- I think I'll put it in my yoga bag.
Saturday, we were at Het Groene Hert, a store with lots of eco-products, to have a look at the jointhepipe.org Tapwater tap that's been placed near there. We looked in the store, and they have a nice array of different reusable (washable!) water bottles for sale. We bought two Dopper bottles -- again, part of the proceeds go towards water projects elsewhere. The Doppers cost EUR 10 per piece.
Again, the bottles come in three parts, and again they're dishwasher proof. It too holds half a liter. But the mouthpiece is in the form of a chalice, so you have the option of unscrewing the mouthpiece and use the broad side as a cup to drink your water, if you don't want to drink directly from the bottle. And the cap unscrews in a single twist -- that's pretty handy if you're in the car and want to have a quick gulp of water. The design is much less 'hip', though they do have a few different colours available.
I quite like this development, and I heartily recommend you get yourself such a bottle too and start drinking tapwater instead of expensive, polluting bottled mineral waters!