Maybe you’ve seen the rectangular cartons at music festivals or at your local grocery store and wondered what they are. Bottled water, sure, you get it — but boxed water? How is boxed water different from your typical bottled water, and is it any better for the environment?

Is boxed water good for the environment?

(Note that when we’re talking about boxed water, we’re talking about the trend in general, not the eponymously-named Boxed Water® brand. Just gotta clarify to satisfy the legal team.)

What Is Boxed Water?

It is what it sounds like: water that comes in a box. Typically, that box is made out of recyclable material (mostly paper) and deemed to have a lower carbon footprint than single-use plastic water bottles.

What Makes Boxed Water Better Than Single-Use Bottled Water?

As mentioned before, boxed water containers are generally made from recyclable materials, with an emphasis on paper that’s responsibly sourced.

Single-use plastic water bottles, in contrast, rely heavily on fossil fuels in their production and transportation. They’re rarely recycled, and they can take up to a thousand years to decompose. Even more mind-bending is the fact that it takes 1.39 liters of water to make one liter of single-use bottled water. Isn’t it ironic… don’tcha think?

Boxed water also has an advantage when it comes to how it’s transported from the carton factory to the filling plant to the final destination (the store in which it’s sold). That’s because in most instances, boxed water cartons are shipped flat, meaning a single pallet can hold up to 35,000 empty, flat cartons. Once filled, the rectangular shape is more efficient to ship than rounded, plastic containers. By fitting more cartons in trucks and on pallets, boxed water companies can reduce the number of trips it takes to supply stores.

But Is Boxed Water Better Than A Reusable Water Bottle?

While boxed water cartons are more environmentally-friendly than their single-use plastic bottle counterparts, carrying a BPA-free reusable water bottle is still the best way to lessen your environmental impact.

Sure, we get that there are situations when you’re in a pinch and might turn to buying a single-use water container (whether it’s a paper box or plastic bottle) while on the road or on-the-go. Our recommendation? Invest in two or three reusable water bottles that you love, and leave them in different places you frequent. For example, keep one at your desk, one in the car, and one in your gym bag. You’ll never find yourself without a water bottle, and you’ll be able to reap the benefits of staying hydrated no matter where you are.

This new craze does show that water companies are thinking outside of the box, but at the end of the day, refilling your reusable water bottle is the better choice for your wallet and the environment.


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