Banning bottled water increases sales of robot sweat

The Unintended Consequences of Changes in Beverage Options and the Removal of Bottled Water on a University Campus

Results. Per capita shipments of bottles, calories, sugars, and added sugars increased significantly when bottled water was removed. Shipments of healthy beverages declined significantly, whereas shipments of less healthy beverages increased significantly. As bottled water sales dropped to zero, sales of sugar-free beverages and sugar-sweetened beverages increased.

Conclusions. The bottled water ban did not reduce the number of bottles entering the waste stream from the university campus, the ultimate goal of the ban. With the removal of bottled water, consumers increased their consumption of less healthy bottled beverages.

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19 Responses:

  1. Theodore says:

    You're (you americans) handling this battle in the well-known aristomarxist fashion that's dooming humanity.
    You fucking invented amusement parks and don't know shit about educating people to carry refillable containers and cans anywhere they go? Not even people in the broader term, the folks who are attending the top-level education in your Nation... It makes me so mad

    • Soupdragon says:

      Mad to the point of incoherency, apparently.

    • db48x says:

      No surprise there; university professors and administrators are almost universally marxist.

      • Other Jamie says:

        So true. I was expelled one day because I forgot to wear my Che uniform to my History of Monocled Capitalist-Devils class, and then the Adjuncts Union enslaved my alienated labor to their dastardly collectivist plans.

        Small, elite universities, constantly raising prices to support sports teams and C-level-equivalent admins' salaries, are made of nothing but commies.

      • Kitty says:

        So true, man.

        I desperately want to do something about it. Would you consider buying this bridge to help fund my campaign?

  2. Jered says:

    Shocked! Shocked am I at this totally unexpected outcome! Who could have predicted such a result? Excuse me, these pearls won't clutch themselves....

  3. Aaron says:

    "Unintended Consequences" would make a great title for a 101 course on social engineering.

  4. Alyson says:

    It always seemed strange to protest bottled water so strongly, while ignoring the products next to them that are 99% bottled water. It's surprising anyone thought a simple ban would work. Presumably you could load empty bottles into those machines. If they were sold a bit cheaper than soda, right next to a water fountain, that might work. Maybe add a small bottle deposit if it's practical to clean and reuse them.

    But if disposable bottles are a problem, reusable bottles for soda could be considered more seriously.

    • Anonymous says:

      In the comments of a previous post, someone asked how municipal water could encourage consumption and the use of reusable containers over bottled water (in plastic).

      You know those aluminum containers with twist caps that Budweiser introduced a while ago? Given the apparent infinite recyclability of aluminum (compared to plastics, which have to be downcycled), it's surprising that nobody has jumped on that as the preferred form of packaging for water. The city could contract out with a vendor who posts up vending machines for those things and sells units for, like, a couple nickels. Bonus points if the machines accept "spent" containers and return a deposit. Grab one, hold on to it for a week or a few days or until inconvenient, then sink it and wait for the next time you have a hankering for some water.

      Cases of water that come in the form of traditional 12 oz pull-tab cans exist, but not in big numbers. They're not resealable, and I suspect that even if they were more widely available, people would balk at the idea of water from a can. But changing the form into something more bottle-like might have some effect if only because dumb shit like that makes a difference to people somehow.

      • Pavel Lishin says:

        New York charges a bottle deposit fee for glass bottles; I'm not aware of anyone who returns them except the chronically unemployed and homeless.

        Which is, from an environmental perspective, fine - they're like ants cleaning up the floor of the rainforest.

        • Anonymous says:

          What they're doing is actually pretty important, in light of the matter that glass is apparently a real jerk.

          The main motivation behind the idea of self-serve deposits is because people buy bottled water for a reason (or more specifically, water bottle waste exists for a reason): people don't want to carry that stuff around. The context my comment was supposed to be in response to is the one that asked elsewhere "Is there a useful way to incentivize restaurants to make drinking tap water more sexy?", extended to "Is there a way to do so while keeping waste and costs from water cups to a minimum?"

          The idea is that there are people who don't carry reusable containers around right now but that might be open to holding on to one for a little while if they can pick it up on the cheap at (or near) the point of sale, and then get rid of it some time later when it becomes inconvenient to hold on to (for exactly reasons they feel inconvenienced at the idea of carrying around a proper reusable container right now).

          But you also have to address the people who, no matter what, want to get rid of the thing right now and treat it like a water cup. Ideally, when they're done with the container, they'd be able to slide it into their pocket rather than throwing it in the trash, and then pop it out for refill the next time there's a call for some water. A vending machine that accepts deposits for the thing it just sold is supposed to be an approximation of that. This would also go some way towards benefiting from those who are willing to hang on to them for a short while, too. (See "becomes inconvenient" and heed "short while".)

  5. robert says:

    Do you know how much precious, drought-striken water is in a pint of beer? That's right, a pint.

    • Eric says:

      Actually, the water usage to make that pint of beer is probably 10 pints of water. A really efficient brewery that really cares about water usage can get that down to about 2.5 pints...

  6. MetaRZA says:

    Reminder - bottled water is a fashion accessory.

  7. Rena says:

    Call me a cynic, but I have trouble believing a school banned bottled water - but not other bottled beverages - for any reason other than that PepsiCo suggested it.

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