Bottled water is a great beverage option for our health-conscious, on-the-go society. It's convenient. It's portable. It's safe and protected in its sealed container. (And that container just happens to be 100 percent recyclable and quite environment friendly.)

There are some extreme critics who like to take inaccurate pot shots by saying bottled water is nothing more than tap water. Wrong. When you hear or read such a statement, know that - factually -- it could not be more inaccurate or further from the truth.

Bottled water is much more than just tap water.

First, purified bottled water goes through a rigorous purification process to remove impurities, such as salts and chlorides, and enhance its freshness and taste. The purification process can entail distillation, deionization, reverse osmosis or a combination. Spring water also goes through strenuous processes to ensure the purity and health of this water as well.

All of these important processes to further cleanse and enhance the water are what gives bottled water a fresh, consistent taste. In other words, it's why bottled water tastes the same in Seattle as it does in South Beach – though the tap water in those two cities (or most any two cities, for that matter) would taste completely different.

Also bottled water is regulated at just as stringent of standards as your tap water. Plus, our containers help ensure nothing happens to that water on its way from the manufacturing plant to your mouth. Our industry's safety record on bottled water speaks for itself.

This post isn't meant to knock tap water. America is blessed with the safest supply of drinking water in the world. Our local public works folks do a remarkable job for us. And we'd never discourage people from drinking tap water.

We do, however, want consumers to understand that bottled water is far, far more than just tap in a bottle.

As for our containers, well, they're 100 percent recyclable. And our companies are using less and less materials in their plastic bottles. The data shows that bottled water containers have a small impact on the environment to begin with compared to other consumer products, but when we recycle the plastic bottles and reduce the materials used for containers, we help to save energy and the environment.

The bottom line: Bottled water is good for you and the environment. This is why bottled water remains one of our industry's most popular beverages.