Thousands of cans and bottles are seen at City Carton Recycling on Thursday, March 23, 2017. HF 575, which has been coined the "Bottle Bill", will amend current legislation to get rid of the 5 cent cans and bottles deposit. (The Daily/Ben Smith)

Helton: Stop buying bottled water

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Buying disposable water bottles doesn’t make any sense. Get a reusable instead.

By Elijah Helton
elijah-helton@uiowa.edu

What does it look like when you’re cleaning your room? For lots of us, most of the work is collecting approximately 22 half-empty water bottles.

I get it, Iowa City tap is gross, and we need a palatable option. But the sweet refreshment of filtered water comes at a cost. There has to be a better way.

Let’s look at the numbers. (Don’t worry, liberal-arts kids, the math is done already.) If you go to CVS, the cheapest option is a 24-pack for $3.99, about 17 cents per bottle. Taking a conservative estimate of roughly six bottles per week, it’ll cost you $1.

So assuming you’re drinking less than one bottle per day, it’ll cost you about $16 per semester to drink from those single-use, crinkly, translucent vessels. Maybe that doesn’t sound so bad compared to the thousands we spend on college tuition. But if you’re a heartier drinker with two bottles a day, that cost doubles. And the cost keeps rising if you spring for a brand more expensive than the CVS generic.

Of course, there are plenty of fountains available for free all around campus, but what about when you get thirsty during class, at the gym or in your room? Instead of the needless cost of disposable bottle, the solution is a reusable one.

There are plenty of high-quality options available from such brands as Camelbak and Nalgene and it’s not just one or two types of bottles either. Don’t like that weird silicone tip on Camelbaks? They have bottles with a screwable lid. Feel awkward with the wide opening on Nalgenes? They have narrow mouth options available, too. It should be noted that these containers usually hold 750 to 1,000 milliliters as opposed to the 500 milliliters per bottle in the 24-pack. Furthermore, these hard plastic bottles are durable. I bought mine two and a half years ago and it’s endured with hardly a scratch.

But the best aspect about a refillable bottle is the price. There are plenty of models ranging from $11 to $16, an amount equal to or less than a single semester’s worth of single-use bottles. And many of the water fountains on campus are equipped with motion-triggered spouts designed to fill bottles. The water is filtered, cold, and accessible, especially for students living on campus with a fountain on practically every floor of every building.

But what about those of us that don’t live on campus and the only spouts we have are the tap from the sink? There’s a cost-effective solution for that too. There are filtering pitchers available brands such as Brita that filtrate tap water in seconds. They’re a bit more expensive at around $22 and they periodically need replacement filters, but getting one will still save you money within a matter of months.

Lots of us are college kids with little to no income, and we’ll eat nothing but ramen and Pop-Tarts when we’re out of flex meals. College can be expensive, but water doesn’t have to be.

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