A few weeks ago, we wrote a post in which a hypothetical water-conscious consumer needs something to drink but doesn’t have a water fountain or reusable water container to use. There are many options at a convenience store or gas station: plastic bottles, aluminum cans, or cartons all have different virtual water footprints.
However, since writing that post, I’ve come to realize that there are more options that we didn’t touch on.
One reason I didn’t touch on glass bottles is because it’s very difficult to find the virtual water footprint of glass online. Research is hard, guys. Glass bottles are made via a process called glass-blowing (as opposed to making sheet glass). Glass blowing can be a very environmentally friendly process - so why don’t more beverages come in glass? Our theory is it’s harder to ship because of its weight and fragility, but you can show your support of environmentally-friendly processes, speak with your dollars and buy glass bottles.
Another drink we haven’t covered? Fountain soda. We can make some educated guesses here and some generalizations about the many different materials cups are made of. Plastic cups probably have roughly the same impact as plastic bottles. Those weird cardboard-esque cups probably have about the same impact as the cardboard in a milk carton.
While you don’t see Styrofoam cups for soda very much these days, I have come across a few places that serve coffee, hot coco, and tea in Styrofoam cups. Shockingly, this may be the “bluest” material we’ve examined, given that it needs less than one liter to produce per cup. The flip side, unfortunately, is that Styrofoam is environmentally costly after you drink from it and throw it away, as it doesn’t decompose easily.
So, now that we’ve covered this topic for a couple weeks, we’re willing to humbly admit there’s probably even more containers we haven’t covered yet. Are you sick of this topic yet, or are you itching for us to cover yet another beverage receptacle? Comment with your suggestions while we run to the store for a quick drink.