Count Something #2: the Water Booth

I’d like to think I’m an environmentally friendly individual. I recycle, I favor green products & brands and I carry a reusable SIGG water bottle with me. Irrespective of this, I decided to count the number of water bottles I used in a week. I could blame the hot weather but on four occasions in the last week I ran out of water and had to purchase a bottle to keep hydrated. I assume I’m not the only one guilty of grabbing a bottle of water at a corporate lunch, a networking event, at the gym (when I’ve forgotten mine) or outside on a hot day.

The simple math:
On average if you consume one bottle of water a week, that one bottle will equate to 52 bottles a year and approximately 3500 in your lifetime (give or take).

The estimated global annual bottled water consumption is around 200 billion gallons and according to the International Bottled Water Association the US are the largest consumers of bottled water – consuming 8.665 billion gallons annually (2008). Based on the table below, the average person in the US consumes around two .5L bottles of water each week. This is up 32% over five years despite the mainstream acceptance of reusable water bottles.

The scary truth, it can take up to 1000 years for a plastic water bottle to decompose, which means a lot of unnecessary plastic is piling up in landfills and recycling sites. We have an opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint.

Image from SIGG

One Solution
What seems like a simple solution, we set up water booth fill stations in high traffic areas. These would be similar to water fountains – except that one side of the unit would sanitize the reusable bottle at high pressure to kill bacteria and the water source would be purified, filtered and locally sustainable. Given that the majority of bottled water is just filtered multiple times, your resulting cold refreshing water from a water booth would be similar to the brand name bottled water supplied on the market today. The water booth could even allow the consumer to select a vitamin or flavor supplement to include in the fill up. Given 90% of the cost of bottled water is associated with producing the bottle, lid and labeling, a water booth could offer water at a fraction of the price of bottled water. Like the obsolete 25 cent telephone booth – we could have a 25 cent water booth – with proceeds allocated to environmental causes.

I’d personally love to see the ‘green’ companies out there adopt a booth to maintain in their store, reception area or lunch room. Not to mention in malls, parks and high traffic areas. I hope Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Fiji and other bottled water companies are listening.

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6 responses to “Count Something #2: the Water Booth

  1. I’ve moved over to carrying a canteen myself as opposed to tossing out all the plastic ones I used to nab from my work or buy in bulk at COSCO. I know doing this cuts down on waste but do you know how “green” the production of these bottles are? I’m legitimately curious. I posted about the same topic a little while ago but wasn’t able to find out how environmentally friendly the production of these “eco-canteens” are.
    I love the idea for the refill stations. If more people move away from just tossing their single use water bottle and go towards reusable systems this will hit it off! Maybe you should start investing a make a killing before someone else nabs up the idea.

    • Sustainable Student – Many reusable water canteens are made from recycled materials or at the very least are 100% recyclable. I haven’t had to dispose of one yet as I kind of enjoy the warn out – peeled look that mine has. I imagine in the future there will be a market just for reusable water skins that you place over your canteen so that you can sport your favorite brand, slogan or choose a color that matches your outfit (if you are into that kind of thing).
      As for the refill stations – if the idea takes off, we all win, because the environment wins! As for me, I don’t have that type of capital, but I am emailing all the large water bottle manufacturers to see what they are doing to be green!
      To a future of sustainable living… thanks for reading.

    • Sustainable Student, I saw this Bamboo bottle today and thought of you:
      http://www.uncrate.com/men/gear/outdoor/bamboo-bottle/
      Enjoy!

  2. Funny you should mention this idea. I love it. And last time I was in Halifax, I noticed that lululemon had a water fountain in their store for people to (re)fill their reusable bottles.

    Some outdoor concerts I’ve been to have also adopted the idea. Jack Johnson, for example, sets them up for his shows and pitches a plug for them before performing.

    • I love it!
      Could you sanitize your bottle, prior to refilling?
      Was it a portable station or was it tapped into a local, sustainable source of water?
      One day, they’ll also offer flavored or vitamin options… it’s coming, I can feel it!

  3. I don’t think there were options for sanitizing. And they were local, sustainable sources of water.
    Very cool!

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