In Defense of Bottled Water

Bottled water has been under heavy attack for some time now, most recently on Funny Goodbye Letters, where the following comic was posted:

Oddly enough, it looks like this was taken from a blog I read more regularly (Don’stuff), but I saw it on Funny Goodbye Letters first. I think I need to fix my feeds.

It makes a strong point. Bottled water is stupid. It’s expensive, it’s terrible for the environment, and there’s no reason for us to be paying the dramatic fiscal and environmental costs associated with it.

Or is there? I think it’s about time someone who isn’t making money from selling it took up the defense of bottled water. So here we go.

Why buy bottled water? What does a bottle of water offer you that a glass of water from the tap doesn’t?

  • Convenience

There is no denying the ease which comes with grabbing a bottle of water and walking out the door. I don’t think anyone is going to argue that water is a luxury, not when used for drinking at any rate. In an age when grab it and go meals are the norm, and a minute in the microwave can be too long, it’s no wonder people have turned to the water with zero preparation time. Furthermore, you don’t need to wash bottles. You throw them in the recycling (or, evidently, if you’re 80% of people, you throw them away, but I’m too small to be 80% of people)

  • Utility

As of yet, a glass of water has not been invented which can be safely thrown into a brief case or backpack without soaking the contents. Perhaps it has, but I haven’t seen it. Furthermore, it seems silly to keep glasses of water in the refrigerator. But the refrigerator keeps bottled water cooler than the sink can produce it. The western world, at least, likes its water cold. This is less of an issue in China where water is usually boiled before drinking, and preferred hot.

  • Accessibility

Often times, bottled water is all that’s available. You’re thirsty, don’t want the calories, sugar, or taste of any other beverage, but you’re not at home. You don’t have a glass, you don’t have the kitchen sink. Rumor has it that some people carry theirs around with them, but you can’t find them. What do you do? You buy a bottle of water. Is that so wrong? Surely you can’t be expected to drink out of the toilets.

  • Taste

Bottled water DOES come from a pristine, mysterious source. Tap water has fifty bajillion chemicals in it, ranging from chlorine to kill bacteria and fluorine so that your teeth don’t rot to chlorine to lead from the pipes ensuring that the rest of you rots. Alright, I grant you, not many places have lead piping anymore. But the point is that tap water has a taste, and it isn’t always good. Some places have downright funky tasting tap water, especially after storms. And then there’s the white precipitate which I always find in any water I get out of the downstairs faucets. Bottled water, for the most part, comes in two varieties. 1. Distilled/filtered water takes away all the things that make tap water unpleasant. 2. Mineral/spring water which is selected to be good tasting. They add things (or find water already containing) salts which make the water, in fact, taste better.

Now to demolish those arguments as fast as possible.

-Use reusable water bottles. I have a 32oz pink bottle that I carry around with me. Yes. Pink. It was on sale.

-Get a filter for your kitchen faucet, if the taste bothers you.

-Put ice cubes in your water bottle.

-If you really can’t bear to get a reusable water bottle, there’s no need to drink out of the toilet. When I’m on long runs, or just don’t have my water bottle with me for one reason or another, I have no compuction drinking out of bathroom sinks. And you know what? I’m not dead yet.

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9 thoughts on “In Defense of Bottled Water

  1. Funny letters made a choice to directly take all of my post and use it – which is fine. I don’t choose to make any money from this anyway.
    Yours is a great post – funny.
    Not dead yet? Where’s my shovel? I’ll take care of this.

  2. Or how about this as a defense:

    If two consenting adults wish to enter a contract where one sells the other a bottle of water, what business is it of anyone else? Why I wish to do this shouldn’t enter the conversation. Rationalizations of the transaction, (convenience, portability, lack of a water filter in my car, the indistinguishable principal if the bottle contains some other consumer preference such as juice, etc.) only concede the right of other to judge.

    Basically, “I wish to buy it” is more than enough of a justification to me. I suspect those wishing to judge the transaction would recoil in horror if someone chose to judge some other adult preferences.

  3. While that may be all the justification you owe, that does not mean that your decision cannot, or should not, be judged. In this case the bottle of water is causing damage to the environment which affects everyone, arguably giving them the right to judge, or interfere, in your contract. If it was as simple as an adult consenting to waste their money it would be another issue entirely.

  4. Lucid lunatic:

    While I understand your point, you’re too comfortable that the line should be drawn according to your moral world-view. Enabled by your template, why can I not appear at your door and forbid any number of goods or practices that I judge to have costs to society?

    Soft drinks? Not only do they also leave container waste behind, but their unhealthy. Gone.
    Television? A waste of your time, better spent contemplating theories I judge productive to your spiritual needs. Gone.

    And so on. Welcome to the Totalitarian State – one you’re evidently comfortable enough with when it overlaps with your views that you’re blind to the underlying principals of liberty that you too easily compromise.

  5. I agree. So think of this as another piece of snail mail spam soliciting your donations, only that ‘donation’ would be an alteration of your behaviour rather than money.
    Feel free to send me money, though.
    And what you describe is, really, the problem. Outside of a Totalitarian state, the behaviour of individuals cannot be dictated. Inside of such as state, there are bigger problems.

  6. Voluntary compliance and behavior modification is a different matter. I’m all for it.

    Though I’d hesitate to encourage the sanctimonious glares of behavior mod police. I’d like to enjoy a cold bottle of water, in preference to some sugary beverage, at some location where the thought of tap water is a turn off (airport bathroom anyone? stadium?)without that.

  7. Sanctimonious glares are often how social change occurs, unfortunately.
    Better than a witch trial though, which was how ‘deviant’ behavior was once
    dealt with. Imagine setting someone on fire for drinking bottled water. How
    absurd that seems in this day and age. That, I suppose, was a type of
    extremist middle ground between social self modification and
    totalitarianism. The society would (extremely!) forcefully expell
    non-conformists. Certainly not the right way to bring about change.

    Hopefully even glares will only occur when deserved. There’s a line there
    somewhere, and everyone will have it drawn in a different place. I’m not
    even going to try (yet). But what do you think the qualifications are for
    such a line? The availability, portability, and potability of water would
    need to be considered.

    Let’s take the airport bathroom as an example. Outside of water bottles,
    water may be acquired from either sinks or water fountains. For now let’s
    eliminate the water fountains, as they are not always available. Let us also
    standardize the airport. Let’s assume that what water that is available is
    potable, and that it has strictly enforced security. So an American airport.
    It is not possible to bring your own water in any reasonable quantity due to
    security restrictions. You cannot even bring your own container for water.
    If you wish to drink, you must either drink directly from a sink or use your
    hands as a cup. Could you hydrate yourself sufficiently by this method?
    Probably. Is it reasonable to expect that?

    That’s a judgment call. Most people will agree that it’s not, and that
    bottled water is acceptable in that environment. At the other extreme,
    drinking bottled water in your own home (assuming you live in an area with
    potable water), in most cases would not be. Ideally, sanctimonious glares
    will be at their highest at the ‘home’ extreme and negligible at the
    ‘airport’ and ‘unclean water’ extremes.

    Thank you, by the way, for coming and having this discussion. 🙂

  8. Why buy bottled water!!! Here the question is not convenience , utility etc but why at all. I guess its just a business model. Anyways I miss Mud Pot, few years back before fridge was a luxury we had mud pots(matka) the water from them is not only cool, it also was having more nutrients, go figure. I guess, bottle does make lot of sense, but only if you are traveling.

    BTW: Dude, He he he, pink bottle!!!

  9. With havin so much written content do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or
    copyright infringement? My blog has a lot of exclusive content
    I’ve either written myself or outsourced but it seems a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my authorization. Do you know any techniques to help protect against content from being stolen? I’d truly appreciate it.

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