Is boxed water really better? Well, no.
It is not a social good to be selling water in industrialized countries that have access to clean drinking water. If you don’t enjoy the water you can use lots of different filters.
We’re focussing on the wrong problem and we’re fixing the thing that’s easier – rather than addressing the root causes like trust, convenience, capitalism, poverty & inequity. Look at the system. Ask why more.
Paper is far more effectively recycled than plastic but the environmental footprint of paper is pretty similar. Paper generally uses more energy to produce, can use more water, causes more pollution during production, clears more land (depending on the foresty involved) and is often energy intensive in recycling. The difference is at end of life it doesn’t clog our river ways and kill animals. Recycling for plastic is really downcycling – it degrades each cycle and has a limit of 2-7 times. It takes 3-6x more water to create a plastic bottle than the water that’s in it.
So we’re clear, boxed water isn’t all paper. For example this brand is 74% paper (not from recycled paper), 20% plastic (barrier + keep shape) and 6% aluminium (barrier + flavor protection). There’s also a plastic cap.
For places that don’t have clean drinking water – from lower-income countries to communities that have been poisoned like Flint, Michigan – they require a solution no matter what it is. Where we work in Cambodia there is no running water. What there is from nature is often not filterable as heavy toxins run into it. Filters also require time or maintenance. We’re also often in drought now. In our studio we pay for plastic silos to be reused and refilled. This can happen 7-12x and then they’re (mostly) burned.
We need to ensure EVERYONE has access to clean water. If you have access to this, cut out any single-use. Ensure your town has fountains everywhere. For everyone else we pressure governments to provide it, we stop companies from extracting local water, we push for recycling facilities in areas that rely on bottled & we invest as many resources as possible on clean water. We use our skills for that… not starting more bottled businesses.