Bottled water is one of the first things to forgo in a sustainable lifestyle journey; it’s wasteful, expensive, and easily replaced by reusable water bottles. However, everyone will eventually find themselves in a situation without easy access to unpackaged water, and will ultimately reach for a plastic bottle rather than face dehydration. It feels like a failure.
The journey towards sustainability shouldn’t be all or nothing, because circumstances outside of one’s control sometimes require breaking our self-imposed rules. The insistence of immediate change could lead someone to stop trying altogether because they can’t reach that ultimate zero-waste mecca right away, or feel it’s too difficult to continue to try.
Enter Boxed Water, a product that fills the gap between plastic and reusable water. Is it better than bottled water? Absolutely! Is it more sustainable than using a reusable water bottle? No. But it’s not meant to be. This is pragmatic – bottled water isn’t going away anytime soon, even if it’s falling out of favor slightly. People are still drinking it, and bottles are still ending up in landfills. So, if hundreds of customers are going to be reaching for a water at their local coffee shop anyway, why not give them the option to choose a better variety? Sustainability is a big change for a lot of people living in Western culture, and incremental steps like this can help motivate more people to make small changes.
The boxes are made from a plasticized cardstock that has a much smaller footprint than traditional bottled water; according to their box, they are constructed of 74 percent paper. I appreciate that they source their paper from forests that are managed in a sustainable way, planting new trees to avoid deforestation. While trees are a renewable resource, companies need to put in the effort to make this be the case.
The company also ship the boxes folded up, which might not seem important, but over hundreds and thousands of shipments, this efficient way of packing reduces their number of shipments, using fewer fossil fuels. The boxes are also 100 percent recyclable, but only in participating municipalities. Where I live in Washington, D.C. cartons are included in curbside pickup, so I don’t have to make any special trips. If where you live doesn’t offer this, reach out to your local government officials!
While I probably won’t be buying a lot of these boxes, they do come in handy when there aren’t other options. I participated in a small town parade a few weeks ago, and the thing they don’t tell you about parades is that the majority of your time will be spent standing and waiting. For hours. On this cloudless summer day, I avoided having to buy multiple bottles of water thanks to the handful of boxes I packed in my bag. I also found that the boxes collapsed very easily so they fit nicely back into my bag so I could bring them home to be recycled. The water itself is tasteless, without even the hint of plastic some people pick up in bottled water.
I’d recommend these for events if you know you’ll be out all day, and I’d love to see these sold in more small shops where the temptation to buy bottled water is highest. I’d encourage everyone to approach your favorite coffee shop and ask if they’d consider stocking it to reduce waste in your hometown. So, yes, boxed water is better, and though it’s not completely without environmental impact, it’s a step in the right direction.
Disclosure: The company did not pay for this review although the Boxed Water products were gifted. The author expresses honest opinions that are free from bias or commercial influence. For more information, read our disclosure policy.