The bottled water craze took hold over a decade ago, and since its start, consumption has skyrocketed. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), More than half of all Americans drink bottled water; about a third of the public consumes it regularly. Sales have tripled in the past 10 years, to about $4 billion a year.

However, from misuse of water mining rights, to concerns over water quality and plastic safety, this inspired idea is beginning to wane in the minds of many critics.

If you and your household are consumers of bottled water, consider these facts that recent studies have brought to light. They just may help make your home a little greener.

First, the quality of bottled water has been brought under scrutiny. According to the Environmental Working Group's senior vice-president, Jane Houlihan, bottled water companies are hiding information that would shock many consumers. When tested in comparison to bottled waters, the EWG found that filtered tap water received the best grade (an A.)

According to Yahoo!, 10 of America's top-selling brands barely had passing grades:

   1. Pure Life Purified Water (Nestle), EWG grade = B

   2. Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = C

   3. Aquafina Purified Drinking Water (Pepsi), EWG grade = D

   4. Dasani Purified Water (Coca-Cola), EWG grade = D

   5. Deer Park Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D

   6. Ice Mountain Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D

   7. Ozarka Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D

   8. Zephyrhills Natural Spring Water (Nestle), EWG grade = D

   9. Crystal Geyser Natural Alpine Spring Water (CG Roxane), EWG grade = F

Filtered tap water not only reigns supreme in terms of quality, it also is a huge money saver. In today's economy, bottled water can be as much as 1,900 times more expensive than tap water.

It seems as if quality filtered water and it's inherent benefits have been confused for bottled water. Tap water of local municipalities is under strict government regulation. They regularly test for many harmful contaminants.

Yet, according to the NRDC, The FDA's rules completely exempt 60-70 percent of the bottled water sold in the United States from the agency's bottled water standards, because FDA says its rules do not apply to water packaged and sold within the same state. Nearly 40 states say they do regulate such waters (generally with few or no resources dedicated to policing this); therefore, about one out of five states do not.

In a NRDC test, 1/3 of bottled waters contained significant contamination. What does this mean? That is levels of chemical or bacterial contaminants exceeding those allowed under a state or industry standard or guideline. Many of these contaminants are known cancer causing agents.

And if that weren't bad enough, bottled water use consumes a large amount of oil simply in it's packaging. Additionally, plastic bottles take 1,000 years to biodegrade (MSNBC). And millions of them end up in landfills, and unfortunately the ocean each year. Only 27 percent of bottled end up recycled. (

Here are just a few green options to try in your home:

Whole House Filtration System: These cost around $750 and mean that not only is your drinking water filtered, but the water you wash your dishes and shower in as well! Be sure to research brands before buying, however, since there are brands that outperform their competitors.

Faucet filtration: These systems connect directly to your faucet and cost under $25.00. They have filters that needs changed every 6 months.

Filtered Water Pitcher: Research has shown that pitchers don't filter out as many contaminants as faucet systems, but they are a great option for busy families or offices without regular access to water. You can fill it up once and use it all day!

Reusable Bottles: And finally, for on the go water drinkers, be sure to invest in a reusable bottle. You can choose from either stainless steel water bottles or BPA free bottles. They cost $10 or less for basic varieties and will allow you to take water to the office and in the car.

Bottled water usage is a hard habit to change. The ease and convenience, plus its obvious benefits over consuming sugary soda drinks makes it hard to give up. But by making a few simple changes in your home, as well as buying a reusable bottle for on the go, you'll be sure to stick with it!