Remember those days as a kid when you would come inside after a long day of playing with friends? You would run straight to the kitchen sink and fill your mouth with that oh-so-refreshing water, straight from the tap. What happened?

Bottled water companies instilled fear in us by telling us that tap water was dangerous. And we believed them.

Often, the water we drink from those fancy plastic bottles is nothing but tap water itself, anyway. The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently published a four-year study that found “an estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is really just tap water in a bottle — sometimes further treated, sometimes not.”

We’re also potentially drinking harmful toxins from the plastic that this “clean” water comes in. Additional research from the NRDC found that about 22 percent of the brands tested had higher chemical content than allowed by states’ regulatory standards.

These chemicals they are referring to are called phthalates. The NRDC also let us in on another little secret that bottled water companies certainly don’t want us to know: “There are regulatory standards limiting phthalates in tap water, there are no legal limits for phthalates in bottled water.”

So not only are we likely drinking regular ‘ole tap water from potentially harmful plastic bottles, we are also PAYING to do so.

According to FoodandWaterWatch.org, Americans forked over $10.6 billion on bottled water in 2009, paying up to 1,000 times what tap water would have cost them.

So where are all these billions of dollars worth of plastic bottles going?

Alternet.org says, “Of the billions of plastic water bottles sold each year, the majority don’t end up being recycled. Those single-serving bottles, also known as PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles because of the kind of resin they’re made with, are recycled at a rate of about 31 percent in the U.S. The other 69 percent ends up in landfills or as litter.”

The shipping of bottled water has also been linked to global warming pollution and other air pollution. “In California, 18 million gallons of bottled water were shipped in from Fiji in 2006, producing about 2,500 tons of global warming pollution.”

Not to mention, a lot of these bottles are ending up in our oceans, lakes and streams….but come on, you already knew that, right?

Try a sip of the good stuff. Its free.