Boxed water better than bottled


We'd ask that all Hot Dish readers eschew the epic environmental catastrophe that is bottled water and drink tap water instead. But while we're weaning ourselves off the habit, we hope that Boxed Water is Better, a Grand Rapids, MI, company that packages Minnesota water in boxes, a less resource-intensive packaging choice, will start distributing its product here.

The boxes have a smaller carbon footprint than bottles because they're made mostly from trees from sustainably managed forests, can be shipped flat when empty, and can, in theory, be recycled. (The plastic screw caps on top make them refillable.)

I like the bluntness of the design, though its brash attitude risks being associated with the smug pretentions of the designer I'm Not a Plastic Bag bags that swept NY a couple of years ago. And while I see the importance of international distribution--using retail shelves as an environmental billboards--I hope they'll be filling the boxes in situ vs, say shipping Midwestern water all the way over to Europe.

I noticed Shefzilla has blogged about the whole bottled water thing being overblown by noting that the environmental "foot print" of bottled water is much less than a cup of coffee.

The World Wildlife Fund created a two-minute video recently that explains how a single latte requires 53 gallons (or 848 cups) of water to grow the beans and feed the cows that produce the milk to make the drink. Slightly different numbers according to the Water Footprint Network:

1. glass of beer = 19.8 gallons 2. glass of wine = 31.7 gallons 3. cup of coffee = 37 gallons 4. hamburger = 634 gallons 5. cotton T-shirt = 713 gallons 6. sheet of paper = 2.6 gallons

He makes a good point that the eco impact of bottled water is a drop in the proverbial bucket when compared to other beverages, though he neglects to mention that there isn't a more environmentally friendly substitute for wine or coffee. When people want coffee, they probably won't "downgrade" to bottled water, while there is a more environmental alternative--refilling water containers via the tap--to buying bottled water.