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Bottled water is a steadily growing business in many countries of the world. Despite its long presence on the market, it continues to increase sales each year (Statistic Brain, 2016). Many people believe that bottled water is tastier, healthier, or is otherwise better than widely available tap water. However, gradually more studies show that most of these beliefs are unfounded or misunderstood. Several tests show that on many occasions tap water is cleaner and the control behind its quality is more reliable. Several blind trials also suggest that tap water is chosen as having a better taste when the participants do not know that it does not come from a bottle (Viscusi, Huber, & Bell, 2015). Finally, a question of environmental influence is constantly raised by various agencies and activist groups, which claim that the process of bottle production and the bottles usually create waste that is not properly recycled. As a result, despite the best marketing effort of industry giants, the issue of the sustainability of bottled water becomes more prominent in the later years, in part thanks to the youth activist groups which raise awareness. In particular, personal observations show that the Facebook newsfeeds of the young audience often feature information bits about the disadvantages of bottled water and advertisements of refillable bottles. However, the actual effect of activism, as well as its demographic characteristics, is unclear. The following study aims to analyze the impact of the increased information regarding water bottles at the younger population to find out whether they tend to use refillable bottles rather than buy bottled water and thus determine possible ways to improve the situation.
The study was performed by observing the students of the college in the campus area for five days. The numbers of students carrying bottled water and those carrying refillable water bottles were recorded and compared to find out which group is more numerous. Because of the personal observations made on Facebook, the hypothesis was that the number of students with refillable bottles would be higher because of better access to information and awareness of the harmful environmental effect of disposable bottles.
After five days of observations, the total number of people carrying refillable bottles totaled 18, or 5, 2, 5, 4, 2, respectively. The number of students with disposable bottles of water totaled 44, or 12, 6, 8, 16, and 2, respectively. Of the total number of students carrying water bottles, only 29% had refillable ones.
The results differed significantly from the initial assumption. They suggest that despite serious involvement in the movement to promote the use of tap water, most of the young people prefer bottled water. These results show a serious difference between the stated goals and values and the actual purchasing habits. However, the study has two serious limitations. First, the recorded number is prone to error because of the difficulties in observation. Second, there is no data on the use of bottled water among the older population, which may differ enough to partially confirm the hypothesis. Thus, it is recommended to develop a better method which would provide a better opportunity for research and conduct a similar study among different age group to be able to contrast the results against other data.
Statistic Brain. (2016). Bottled water industry statistics. Web.
Viscusi, W. K., Huber, J., & Bell, J. (2015). The private rationality of bottled water drinking. Contemporary Economic Policy, 33(3), 450-467.