Liquid thinking: choosing the tap over the bottle

April 3, 2008

Bottled waterBack in the early nineties, I worked at a posh spa that had a Water Bar where dozens of different kinds of bottled water were available for guests to drink. These bottles came from all over the world and had been chosen by a water sommelier who assured us that they were each as distinctive as wine from various locations.

In the last two decades, bottled water has become more than just a convenient way to offer people a drink; it’s a revenue stream (pun intended) for soft drink companies as well as for restaurants who sell bottles of ubiquitous filtered water for $5 to $10 and, in some cases, premium waters such as Bling H2O (it’s considered premium ‘cause the bottle is fancy!) for more than $40 a bottle.

More than a year ago the aptly named Alice Waters, culinary icon and owner of Chez Panisse Restaurant in Berkeley, California, quit offering bottled water in her restaurant in favour of purified tap water. What started as a choice rooted in her own opinion about conservation and reducing the size of the carbon footprint created when bottled water is shipped across the globe has started a valuable debate in not just the restaurant industry but other communities as well.

After all, why do we need to buy bottled water for home or the office when a filtration system can be added to any tap to make the water taste as clean and fresh as it would if it came all the way from a Tasmanian spring?