Bottled Water: the High Price of Convenience

Bottled water is becoming more and more common in schools across the UK – but is the convenience really worth the price tag? In the following article, we’ll take a look behind the marketing and find out the real price of bottled water. We’ll also show you how you can reduce litter and enhance your green credentials by fitting a water fountain.

Water waste

There’s no getting away from the fact that bottled water is convenient – but compared to tap water, the price of bottled water is outrageous. In fact, at roughly £1 a litre, bottled water costs almost as much as petrol.

You’d think that bottled water is ‘healthier’ or more ‘natural’ than tap water – you’d hope as much, given the inflated price tag. But in actuality, there’s very little to differentiate expensive branded water from the stuff that comes out of our taps. Most bottled water is merely ordinary tap water that’s been purified – and while some bottled water does come from natural springs, there’s scant evidence to suggest that it is any more beneficial than drinking water from the mains. All you’re really paying for is a plastic bottle.

In this country, we’re lucky enough to get unlimited safe drinking water from our taps for next to nothing; other parts of the world aren’t so fortunate. It seems insane, then, that we pay exorbitant prices for the same thing in a plastic bottle. All things considered, bottled water doesn’t benefit anyone other than the companies who sell it.

Bad for the planet

Thanks to clever marketing campaigns, bottled water is seen as a healthy, eco-conscious choice of beverage – but in truth, our addiction to bottled water is taking a dire toll on the global ecosystem. Unfortunately, despite greater public awareness of the importance of recycling, over 80% of plastic bottles end up in landfill sites. And that’s the best case scenario: many plastic bottles make their way into our oceans, causing untold damage to marine life.

Plastic bottles cause damage on a local level, too. You’re no doubt familiar with the sight of school dustbins overflowing with plastic detritus, and playgrounds littered with discarded bottles. Littering isn’t just unsightly; it can also be extremely damaging to local wildlife.

Return of the water fountain

Okay, okay – so we’ve established that branded water is a bad deal for consumers and for the environment. But what’s the alternative? Step forward the humble drinking fountain.

There was a time when communal water fountains were a ubiquitous sight in school playgrounds, cafeterias and corridors. Nowadays, they’ve all but disappeared, thanks to an influx of bottled water products and baseless concerns over hygiene.

In my opinion, it’s time for drinking fountains to make a comeback. As well as being low-cost and environmentally friendly, drinking fountains are a highly effective way of ensuring that pupils stay well hydrated throughout the school day – and as we all know, adequate hydration is essential for learning and general wellbeing. Drinking fountains can also help your students reduce their intake of expensive, unhealthy fizzy drinks.

The law states that all school children must have access to drinking water during school hours – however, a recent survey of parents found that one in five pupils refuse to use school drinking fountains for being ‘dirty or broken’. The sorry state of our neglected drinking fountains is probably one of the reasons bottled water has become so popular – the solution? Fit new drinking fountains.
Fitting a set of modern drinking fountains in your school or college can help reduce littering, save money boost your green credentials, and improve the health and receptiveness of your pupils.

As the MD of, Paul Thorn has helped schools, colleges and further education establishments to find their perfect washroom solutions

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