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ahro0703's avatar

Should bottled water be banned?

Asked by ahro0703 (365points) February 21st, 2014

Bottled water pollutes the world, but it is convenient. People far away can get water easily, but money is needed to buy it.

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28 Answers

XOIIO's avatar

One of the worst questions I have seen here, for several reasons.

It’s never going to happen, ever, it’s too large an industry with countless different companies.

Yes, it pollutes, but it’s also a good way to get water to refugee camps, or disaster victims, or to places where fresh water is hard to come by.

People always fall for marketing, so as long as the company has some “glacier water” or ‘vitamin whatever” on the packaging, people will buy it.

There are also plenty of other things a government could do to reduce pollution, bottled water is nothing compared to a lot.

CWOTUS's avatar

I think it’s a fine idea, an idea whose time has come. Let’s start a black market in water. Oh, the possibilities are staggeringly great.

Yeah, let’s do this.~

Buttonstc's avatar

Gee @XOIIO, what a way to make a newbie feel welcome on Fluther.

I remember a time when you were new here yourself. How would you like for someone to tell you you’ve asked the worst Q they’ve ever seen?

Personally, I’ve seen far whose questions, for the record.

JLeslie's avatar

No. I actually agree with the water companies that when sold in vending machines it competes with soda and juice.

I have events I go to where bottled water is necessary.

I do think drinking lots of bottled water every day at home is ridiculous in America in most places in our country. It is a stupid amount of money spent by the consumer for water that often is tap water in a bottle. The amount of plastic is mind boggling and disheartening.

I probably buy 70–80 individual sized bottles of water a year and 6–10 gallons of water for my husband and me. Even I can’t believe how large those numbers sound and it is nothing compared to most people. That’s including travel, events, storm warnings, etc.

LuckyGuy's avatar

No they should not be banned. There are times when bottled water is very useful. To reduce pollution I would place a $0.25 deposit on each bottle to be charged at the point of sale. When the bottles are brought back the money is returned.
You will not find them in the trash or discarded on the roadways because most people would bring them back and others would pick them up while walking. They can be returned to the bottler for recycling.

dxs's avatar

I like the concept of the bottle, but not the idea that water is mass produced. I occasionally stumble upon a bottle of water and when I do, I keep reusing the bottle for a while.
I totally agree that it’s a waste. People should definitely cut back on the bottled water use, but in some areas of the world, clean drinking water is short. For one not-so-extreme example, the tap water I had once in upstate NY was sulfury and disgusting.
Oh, and I swear we’re not all nasty here! I think @XOIIO just has his tentacles in a twist.

jonsblond's avatar

We should ban bottled soda, not water.

Buttonstc's avatar


I agree that soda is far less necessary than water.


That’s a good idea and I doubt that .25 would be necessary as incentive.

Here in Michigan, all soda bottles are charged .10 each at purchase and people are bringing them back in droves.

As a matter of fact, one store has placed a limit of how many can be redeemed per person per day as there are plenty of enterprising folks scouring waste bins and trash cans for bottles that others are throwing out just to make some extra cash.

However, for some unknown reason, they don’t accept water bottles even tho the smaller soda bottles of roughly the same size are fine.

This makes absolutely no sense to me at all. They already have the mechanism in place (gigantic collection machines) so why not include water bottles as well? Its not as if its some radically different form of plastic.

Ain’t bureaucracy wonderful~~

LuckyGuy's avatar

There is a $0.05 deposit on them here in NY. That is not enough for some people to bother. My nephew who is in debt to his eyeballs throws them in the trash. “I don’t need the money that bad.” He doesn’t even recycle. Jerk.
If they made it $0.25, fewer people would buy it and more people would recycle.

JLeslie's avatar

The 10¢ deposit was effective in MI when I lived there. Return a six pack and get a free can of soda. That’s how we thought of it anyway. In NY I almost never see people get their deposit back.

Why harp on soda? How about beer?

JLeslie's avatar

The 10¢ deposit was effective in MI when I lived there. Return a six pack and get a free can of soda. That’s how we thought of it anyway. In NY I almost never see people get their deposit back. However, in NYC people seem to be very good about recycling in their buildings. I think maybe their fines for not separating out recyclable goods. Not sure.

Why harp on soda? How about beer?

LuckyGuy's avatar

In NY the deposit is on soda, beer, and water. Flavored tea is not listed for some reason. I’m guessing that will not last long. But $0.05 is too cheap.

JLeslie's avatar

@LuckyGuy At times I see the homeless digging the bottles out of the trash in NYC. Very rarely though. Can you bring them back to any store in NY? Or, do you have to bring the bottles to a special place?

janbb's avatar

I think banning bottled water is a great idea. What’s wrong with tap water that’s been filtered?
Bottled water is a huge drain on the world’s resources; more plastic, fuel used for transportation, etc. If water really does need to be transported into an area that needs it, huge containers should be used.

People managed to drink water a plenty before the relatively recent fad of bottling and selling it came in.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Supposedly you can bring them back anywhere. If the store sells them they are required to take them back. There are also bottle return centers which take back anything. I’m not sure if a store brand is required to take back cans from another store brand. I am guessing “yes”.
In the city, in the summer, you will occasionally see homeless people taking bottles out of the trash at gas stations. They put them in a bag and walk into the store to get whatever. $0.05 is not enough.

JLeslie's avatar

I wonder if the 5¢ is used to pay for recycle collection? If the net amount is in the black, more deposits collected than returned, I wonder how NYS uses that money? Does the store just keep it?

LuckyGuy's avatar

The store is paid a 3 cents per bottle handling fee for every bottle returned. They also get to keep the deposit collected at the time of sale if people don’t return them. Everyone wins – except for the people who don’t return empties.

jca's avatar

There was a great article in the NY Times magazine a few years ago about this topic. The bottled water lobbyists are very powerful and that’s why there’s not always a deposit on water the way there is on soda and beer. I will try to find the link later.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@LuckyGuy “Supposedly you can bring them back anywhere. If the store sells them they are required to take them back.”

I was surprised to learn how much this varies regionally. In my home province, we can bring virtually anything back anywhere for refund. In some of the provinces I’ve visited, recyclables must be brought to a processing centre; in others, there are pickups for recycling, but to collect a refund for deposit means having to go to a processing centre (shops will not give out refunds). Effectively, that means that the only people making the effort to get the deposit back are those with cars (which makes it kind of pointless since the gas probably costs more than they’d collect) and homeless people on bikes.

jca's avatar

That is not the article that I was looking for. I can’t find it but will keep searching the Times site. That article that I linked above, however, looks like a decent article on the topic.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@dappled_leaves There are 3 ways to get your money back here. 1) Go to the store where you purchased the bottles and they will either give you cash or give you a receipt which is used to take money off your next purchase. 2) Bring them to one of the many centers set up to accept them. 3) Feed them into automatic processing machines that we call “Goats” which issue coins or receipts for the store where they are located.

Organizations collect bottles as fund raisers. High School Sports, Boy Scouts, High School Cheerleaders, etc. have placed large apple crates at various gas stations and farms around town so people can easily toss in their bottles and cans.

In the city, it is not uncommon to see homeless peole pushing shopping carts filed with cans and bottles they have picked up from the ground or out of the trash.
(Five cents is not enough. They deserve more for their efforts.)

dappled_leaves's avatar

@LuckyGuy It certainly makes sense to me that there should be as many ways as possible to collect the refund, so it sounds like you have a great system there. I just wish it were as good everywhere.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@dappled_leaves The law basically works well. Unfortunately, the 5 cent deposit that made sense in 1981 is now too low in my opinion. It should be 4 times that just to keep up with inflation.
There are so many places to bring cans and bottles it is not an inconvenience. I just did a quick search for centers in this area.

While I absolutely do not give money to homeless people standing on the side of the road I do give cash to those who are collecting cans from the trash or the side of the road.

Pachy's avatar

Interesting article on this subject. I drink bottled water but intend to stop when my current supply runs out.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I have another use for bottled water – energy savings. Yep. I said Energy Savings.
Unless your freezer is filled solid with food, every time you open the door, cold air pours out and room air goes in. That air needs to be cooled again and that takes energy.
Ideally your freezer should be exactly the same size as the food you want to store, but but we almost always get bigger freezers than we need – just in case
If you put water bottles inside to take up extra space you save energy by reducing the air loss every time you open the door.
There is one extra benefit. During a power failure, the thermal mass of the water will keep your frozen food cold longer.

JLeslie's avatar

@LuckyGuy I just keep a bag of ice in the freezer to keep it full if I don’t have a lot of food in it for a long time. I make the ice myself and put it in a bag. Then eventually I use the ice during some trip.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@JLeslie That is similar thinking. I keep a flat of 36 bottles in the freezer. When I have a party I make it 2 flats. I put frozen bottles in the food coolers and they act as ice, and turn into drinks when they melt.

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