The next disposable alternative to bottled water has hit our shelves in the form of boxed water. As of this writing, I have found three companies manufacturing and selling boxed water, and the question I find myself asking is not so much if these companies technically run a green or sustainable operation; but if any company which produces a disposable product, especially one that encases what is free, accessible and often better for you from your own tap, can be labeled as sustainable. That question is often followed by the larger question of why and how did we become a society dependent upon, and demanding of, a constant stream of “convenience-giving” and “time-saving” products that so often do neither?
Who’s In The Game:
How They’re Playing:
AQUA2GO is based in Louisiana and is the brainchild of a mother who, “…in an effort to find a creative way to encourage her daughter to choose water over juice, she thought of putting water in a juice box”. AQUA2GO uses Tetra Pak packaging (most of your boxed foods do) which is made of polyethylene (a petroleum product), paper from trees (not recycled, but from forests – sustainable though they may be) and aluminum. For detailed information about this type of packing, see Tetra Pak’s environment page.
Boxed Water Is Better is based in Michigan and their boxes are filled with Michigan water. They ship within Michigan and to CA, FL, GA, OH, AND WI. BWIS doesn’t state where they get their boxes (it’s likely Tetra Pak) but they do state that, “about 76% of the box is from…trees [which] come from certified, well managed forests.” They don’t state that they are FSC certified forests, and it’s still the same problem as using virgin wood versus recycled paper. They want to give 10% of profits back to both water preservation and forest preservation foundations, but state that since they are a new company, they have yet to turn a profit, and as such, have yet to give back.
ICEBOX is based in Norway and they, “have warehouses throughout the US [where they] ship the product directly into ports on both coasts.” They are also distributed through Amazon.com. They claim their carbon footprint is, “only 24% of the carbon footprint of a comparable plastic bottle”.
I have pretty strong feelings about plastic water bottles and so I find myself with mixed feelings about boxed water. On the one hand, I feel like it’s another marketing ploy to get consumers to buy something they don’t need, in an effort to keep themselves and their families healthy, while feeling like they are being better eco-citizens by not buying plastic bottled water; and I’d like to see new companies making products we actually need and using all those resources: manpower, brainpower, coal power, hydro power and marketing power, to make something recycled or to somehow otherwise actually help the planet, rather than making another disposable product, especially one we can get at our kitchen sink. On the other hand, if I had the choice between never again seeing another plastic bottle and instead seeing only boxed liquids (without the choice of neither) I think I’d go with boxed.
What do you think?