There are many reasons not to use bottled water. For an excellent and entertaining review of those reasons, see for example “The Story of Bottled Water” (from Annie Leonard’s The Story of Stuff Project). But is it possible that bottled water has some redeeming qualities? The answer, to my surprise, is “yes”, at least if you can believe a report commissioned by Nestle Waters (Executive Summary « Environmental Life Cycle Assessment).
According to market research cited in the above report, when consumers have the choice of bottled water taken away, about 30% will opt for tap water instead. The remaining 70% of consumers will choose another bottled beverage rather than drink water at all. In addition to the negative health impacts of drinking more sugary or caffeine-laden beverages, the environment will also suffer. It appears that other than tap water, alternative bottled beverages involve significantly higher GHG emmissions, energy consumption and water use than bottled water.
So when event organizers, venue managers or even municipalities consider banning bottled water, they may want to consider banning other bottled drinks as well. Otherwise the unintended consequences may outweigh the benefits of this well-meaning gesture.
What do you think?