Move over Coke and Pepsi, step aside Dr. Pepper, stand down, 7 Up. The American thirst for soft drinks has been slaked; the new category leader is plain old H2O. And the war is not over.
Public health officials generally advise drinking 6 to 8 glasses of water a day. If you drink from plastic bottles, you’re spending $1,400 a year for hydration, but you drink tap water, your cost is 50 cents. Still, bottled water is worth a cool $15 billion a year with Nestlé’S 18 brands leading the way.
But before we get to the water, some background about packaging.
First it was wine in a box, almost always the cheapest stuff you could find in the store, even though it made a heck of a lot of sense. Glass bottles are heavy, they break, they’re a pain to ship, they’re a drag to open.
Wine in cans? Well, a few wineries have tried it, with mixed results. Turns out, a lot of wine drinkers don’t really want to drink it as if it were a can of beer, even in places where it would make sense: picnics, golf courses, sporting events, the beach. Australians have no such compunctions; they’re embraced informality and practicality for generations, and have no problem toting high-quality bag-in-box wines to the backyard barbie.
But as for wine in plastic bottles, which would seem to make even more sense for everyday wines? Eww.
Water, on the other hand, seems to go everywhere these days in 12-ounce throw-away plastic bottles. Millions of them.
Americans, as residents of an advanced Western nation, have unparalleled access to fresh, clean drinking water. (Worldwide, over 600 million people do not have such access.) In a country where drinkable water flows from millions of taps, it is ironic, to say the least, that Americans expend so much energy (and expense) taking water with them, as if they were in imminent danger of dehydration. In fact, the failure of the municipal water supply in Flint, Mich. was newsworthy because it represented a terrible aberration in what is, otherwise, a reliable public water system.
But for many, public isn’t as good as private, not as good as a personal water bottle.
It may not be all that important, but it’s certainly worth noting, that Boxed Is Better is owned by the family of Betsy deVos.
And the final irony: what’s in the box? Plain old tap water.
In fact, according to a website called banthebottle.net, making bottles more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.4 million cars or power 190,000 homes.
Banthebottle.net also bewails the fact that only 25 percent of disposable water bottles are recycled.
Ronald Holden is a Seattle-based food writer. His latest book is Forking Seattle.