No industry receives more scrutiny than bottled water when it comes to sustainability. In order to stave off the criticism and maintain the viability of this product we love, we (the water industry) and you (our incredible consumers) must work together to maintain mindfulness when it comes to our water consumption.
The good news is, there are easy alternatives. In fact, read along and you will see that there are zero-waste bottled water options. Yes, you can have your water and drink it too!
As bottled water professionals, we have chosen to work only with vendors who maintain a high level of expectations when it comes to green practices. In doing so we have created a line of products and internal protocols that you can feel good about.
The biggest offender of waste is, of course, the travel size, 16-ounce water bottle. Although this option is a phenomenal alternative to soda, it is a “one-time” use disposable item. Consumption of these on the to-go types of water bottles has risen dramatically in recent years due to competitive pricing and increased awareness of the health benefits of drinking water.
Our supplier of 16-ounce bottles has taken notice and made award-winning changes to their packaging in order to counterbalance increases in productivity. Not only are the bottles 100% recyclable, but they now have a thinner body, as well as a smaller cap and label, reducing the amount of plastic used right out of the gate.
This reduction of plastic offers a two-fold benefit. First, less plastic from the start. And second, a lighter weight allowing more per delivery, reducing vehicle emissions. In addition, the case is wrapped in a state-of-the-art Eco-Air manner, eliminating the need for full coverage or a cardboard liner. The rest is up to you and so far, we like what we are seeing.
Bottled water drinkers are among the highest participants in recycling programs. It has become quite a bit easier with 90% of our communities now offering curbside recycling. Drop-offs are more prevalent than ever and municipalities are beginning to place recycling cans in busy locations. But, we can’t stop there. Although bottled water only accounts for less than 1% of all plastics produced in the US, we have to do our part. And by doing our part, I mean recycle, recycle, recycle. Did I mention you should recycle?
Now for our favorite part- zero waste bottled water. Yes, it does exist.
There are two alternatives when it comes to zero-waste water without resorting to your terrible tasting tap water laden with chlorine. The first is a bottled water cooler. The larger size bottles, often called carboys, are dispensed through a bottled water cooler and can be reused 30-50 times! And it gets even better because we can recycle them at the end of their life. We have partnered with a local recycling center to bundle and repurpose not only the bottles themselves but, the cardboard that they come in.
In addition, our water coolers last well, pretty much a lifetime. Not to toot our own horn but, quite frankly we are masters at making these babies last. With our on-staff professionals and years of training, we have been able to create a system that keeps the production of new water coolers to a minimum. And when a water cooler does finally reach the end of its life, it is scrapped (again with a local vendor) and the parts are repurposed.
Our water source is local, our plant is in downtown Cleveland and our routes are optimized to minimize driving distance. All new vehicles added to our fleet are larger, enabling us to deliver more of our freshwater on each trip. In addition, our drivers are trained to turn their vehicles off when idling, further reducing emissions.
A good old-fashioned bottled water cooler, who would have thought? Sometimes we look right past the most obvious choice not realizing what we had all along. Pair a cooler with a reusable water bottle or mason jar and you have waste-free water on the go.
A second excellent choice for proper hydration with reduced waste is filtered water. Water filters are growing in popularity and can now be seen in prominent earth-friendly locations such as health food stores and other arenas wishing to offer freshwater to their visitors that adhere to sustainability principles. Our in-line filters use and treat your source water, eliminating the need for any bottle at all! The only requirement of these units is changing the filter periodically (as little as once a year). These units are scrapped and repurposed at the end of their life as well.
As you can see, there really is more to the story when it comes to bottled water. By participating in the proper handling of the packaging and making informed decisions about which product is best for you, it is completely possible to enjoy your favorite refreshment in a purposeful way.
Freedom of choice is your right, ethical living, and proper treatment of this planet’s resources is your duty.
P.S. Don’t forget, you can eliminate plastic as well by choosing glass water bottles.