4 Reasons Why Drinking Bottled Water Makes You Look Stupid

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by Ryan

Plastic Water Bottles are one of the stupidest purchases you can make… Period.

There, I said it, go ahead and hate me while you’re blowing your money, encouraging oil consumption, and harming the environment, but I’m entrenched in my position on this one! I don’t usually stand on a soapbox, I’m not a tree hugger by any means, but this is by far one of the dumbest things I see people doing – purchasing and wasting bottled water.

Hear me out before posting hate comments!

As I was hiking one of the many beautiful parks here in Hawaii earlier today I met a gentleman who was by the traditional definition, successful. He had a great job working as a financial analyst, drove a BMW, and had been to over 20 countries.

We hiked for about three hours together and had great conversation and debate on topics ranging from travel, to politics, and even religion. However, there was one thing that struck me about this gentleman whom I had much in common. He believed a lot of the things I did, but was not acting upon them. For example, he believed in frugality, living for today, and gaining experiences. Yet he consumed like the average American and informed me after this hike he was on his way to purchase a camera and his max budget was $500 for a point and shoot! Not exactly a frugal purchase. This only bugged me because he was saying one thing and doing the opposite. I’m not a frugality snob.

My point is, he packed two freshly minted bottled waters in his pack, which made me ask him… why don’t you just use a Water Filter and a sturdy bottle? He simply replied,

“I should, I’ve just been lazy.”

After thinking for a moment I decided it was worth it to pursue the conversation and we got to talking about why bottled water isn’t a great choice. I think, or at least I hope, he enjoyed talking about it and will change his ways.

Below are a few of the points that we spoke about while hiking the Pacific Shore:

1. Shipping – Water is heavy! Shipping it is not cheap, therefore every time you take a drink of your bottled water, think about the journey it took to arrive at your mouth. Go ahead, look at the label, then think about how much gas was used to make it magically appear at the store.
2. Plastics – Plastics are made with oil. Increased demand for oil increases your price at the pump. Enough said.
3. Waste – If you drink one bottle a day for 10 years, you’ve used up 3,650 plastic containers. You could fill a swimming pool with all your bottles!
4. Price – A cheap crate of bottled water at a large retailer is $7. There are 24 bottles (1/2 liter each) in this crate, which means the total amount for $7 is a whopping… 3.2 gallons, which means approximately $2.20 a gallon. Tap water runs about a few cents a gallon. For our example let’s use 2 cents a gallon. What’s the markup for that? About 11,000%!

Every time you take a swig out of that plastic overpriced oil consuming ridiculous piece of marketing, think about the list above and why you shouldn’t be doing it. Treat it as if it’s a bad habit like smoking that you should try to break.

There are also indirect costs to you, the taxpayer. How so? 88% of bottled water plastics are not recycled. This huge volume of bottles has to be picked up by your municipality, brought to the landfill, and takes space in land that could be used for a better purpose. These are all expenses the municipality bears that are then passed on to you.

For more information about why drinking bottled water makes you look stupid consider these articles:
10 reasons to stop drinking bottled water
San Francisco Chronicle article about the Real Cost of Tap Water

Find out where to purchase money saving Water Filters

How much bottled water do you drink in a year?

Why do you buy bottled water?

How to you manage your water consumption?

Photo from Program Witch

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Wendy December 27, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Hi Ryan,

This post is funny because I have the same conversation with my mom. I hate wasting money and the environmental impact but I do catch myself grabbing a bottle at times for convenience. LOL. Congrats on your blog. I’ve been thinking about starting one too but haven’t had the guts to. Perhaps you can write a post on your process and how long it took you to set up the blog?

Investing Newbie December 28, 2009 at 5:09 am

I haven’t thought about it that way, because I rarely drink bottled water. If the office is having a party, I’ll take a bottled water. But would I buy a 24-pack? Nope. I love the water that comes out of my fridge just fine. My mother, on the other hand, has claimed that our local water source is contaminated and has stacked up on Poland Springs Water every time there is a sale at CVS. I’ll let her know about the increased possibility of cancer, but what will she drink afterwards?

Ryan December 28, 2009 at 7:38 am

Newbie,
I’m not an expert in this topic at all, this article is mostly to raise awareness of being a very wasteful habit that everyone should think twice about before taking part of. From that regard I simply use Brita filters and an aluminum water bottle such as this one when I’m around town.

I’ve heard people from both sides of the argument who say:
“tap water is better than the bottle and not bad at all” while others swear that
“bottled water is needed since our water sources are horrible”

However, Being from Wisconsin and learning that many large bottle manufacturers simply pump water out of Lake Michigan – I’m suspicious. I would definitely recommend you look up more sound research and articles than mine before discussing anything so serious with your mother. Just my two cents.

Ryan December 28, 2009 at 9:31 am

@ Wendy – feel free to shoot me an email via the contact page and I’d be more than happy to tell you how I got started. Maybe after this blog is a bit more successful (it’s only been up 2 weeks) I will share how I did it to a larger audience.

Before setting up this blog though I did spend about 2 years learning web development on the side, but wordpress is a fairly easy platform without having to learn much coding. What would you like to blog about?

Financial Samurai December 30, 2009 at 12:50 am

Ryan, while I agree with you that he could have saved some bucks just drinking tap and/or using a walter filtration system, he probably just doesn’t care since he has the money.

After a while, the little things don’t matter as much, because it’s not about sweating the small stuff. That’s what money buys, the freedom to not worry about the little things, which may also cause him more time and angst.

Ryan December 30, 2009 at 4:56 am

@ Samurai – I see where you’re coming from, it really isn’t that much money at all, but my main point was more so from the social responsibility of not being wasteful by throwing out and consuming so much.

One thing I was surprised about when I moved here was that, at least in my neighborhood, they don’t recycle at all. Although I have the money to buy water bottles if I wanted, the system doesn’t award me for being socially responsible and not dumping. So I act, and wrote this article, mostly because of reading about things like the great pacific garbage patch:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch

Although right now it’s free to dump all you’d like, the idea that we can constantly do so for free and no consequence seems a bit of a stretch to me. I might be wrong about all this, but I’d rather just take a few moments each day to use a filter instead of knowing what I drank yesterday is degrading a natural environment somewhere. An environment that tends to only have a money value on it when you’re taking from it.

Financial Samurai December 30, 2009 at 11:35 pm

Tis true Ryan, it isn’t the absolute best socially responsible thing to do, neither is it the worst. Maybe he’ll change if your conversation!

Surprising there isn’t any recycling in your neighborhood! The state is running on hard times it seems and the Univ of Hawaii profs look like they will be going on strike.

Ty January 4, 2010 at 9:10 am

The whole not recycling things that don’t have a HI 5 on the label really bothered me when I was visiting my parents. A brief survey of my parents’ street on trash day showed no evidence of recycling bins but I did notice big blue and big green trash cans in addition to the regular gray one at my aunt’s; her neighborhood has the automated garbage pick up. I will admit to being addicted to Aloha Maid and Hawaiian Sun passion orange juice but I limit myself to 1 a day when I’m visiting and I know my mom recycles those cans.

Quennie Mae Lungay January 18, 2010 at 12:31 pm

I hate to admit it, but I’ve been drinking bottled water for years! Almost everybody is doing this in Manila, Philippines today and I haven’t really done any research about water filters. This is an eye-opener for me..

Francoise Pardos May 19, 2010 at 4:53 am

Hi!

I enjoyed reading this article and comments which I found by chance.

There is one major, almost philosophical reason, for not drinking bottled water.

In this day and time, it is an awful regression, completely anti modernity. Now that there is running water in all advanced and less advanced countries, going to the super market to buy bottled water is just the same as going to the well in the country or to the fountain in the middle of the village. A very antiquated move indeed.

Not anything modern…Think of this and the implications…

ElleX February 23, 2011 at 2:37 pm

I was a heavy bottled water drinker (I recycled the bottles). I have since reformed my behaviour. I have a 32 oz. water bottle that I bring with me to work and when I go on errands. I filter my water at home.

I found Francoise’s comment very intriguing – I had never thought of drinking from bottles from this point of view.

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