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Debate: drinking fountains vs bottle water

Bottled water is becoming an increasingly common sight in schools and colleges up and down the country - but is it really worth the money?

Posted by Hannah Vickers | August 18, 2017 | Facilities management

By Paul Thorn, Managing Director of School-Toilets.co.uk

In this article, we’ll look at the truth behind bottled water and show you how your school can save money and help the environment by installing a drinking fountain.

The high price of convenience

There’s no denying that bottled water is incredibly convenient - but the cost of bottled water compared with water from the mains is staggering. When you walk into a shop and buy a bottle of water, you’ll be paying somewhere in the region of £1 per litre - that’s almost as much as petrol.

The idea that bottled water is somehow superior to tap water is nothing more than clever marketing

Of course, you’re probably thinking that since bottled water often comes from springs, it must be of a higher quality; you’d certainly hope so, given the exorbitant price. But the truth of the matter is that most bottled water is simply purified tap water, and not spring water all. What’s more, there’s very little scientific evidence to support the idea that spring water is any better for health than ordinary tap water. Sadly, the idea that bottled water is somehow superior to tap water is nothing more than clever marketing.

When you look at the facts, bottled water really is a bum deal. After all, we’re lucky enough to live in a country where we can get safe drinking water from the tap for free - so why would you spend money on the same thing in a plastic bottle? It’s no coincidence that a certain well-known bottled water brand spelled backwards is ‘Naive’...

Not so green?

When you finish your fancy spring water and put the bottle in the bin, where do you think it goes? Best case scenario, it will be recycled - but sadly, more than 80% of plastic bottles will end up in landfill. And worse still, it could make its way into one of our oceans.

It’s bad enough that we discard so many soft drink bottles - but it’s even worse that we use bottles for a product that flows from our taps

It’s bad enough that we discard so many soft drink bottles - but it’s even worse that we use bottles for a product that flows from our taps. On a local level, discarded plastic bottles also contribute to unsightly littering in schools up and down the country.

So, we’ve established that bottled water is bad for consumers and bad for the planet. But what’s the solution?

The return of water fountains

Communal water fountains used to be a common sight in school corridors and playgrounds, as well as public spaces in general; however, in the face of (largely unfounded) fears about hygiene, as well as the relative convenience of bottled water, they have all but disappeared - and that’s a real shame.

Drinking fountains are a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to make sure that your students are healthy and hydrated, which is essential for effective learning

Drinking fountains are a cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to make sure that your students are healthy and hydrated, which is essential for effective learning. Water fountains can also help pupils cut down on bottled fizzy drinks, which cause health problems like tooth decay and obesity, as well as impaired concentration.

All schools have a legal requirement to ensure that their pupils have access to drinking water - but in a recent survey, one in five parents stated that their children don’t use school water fountains because they are ‘dirty or broken’ and 21% of parents said they were too far away for their children to use.

By installing clean, modern water fountains throughout your school, you can help tackle childhood obesity, improve your students’ energy levels and alertness, save parents money, cut down on litter, and enhance your green credentials to boot. It really is a no-brainer. 

Paul Thorn is the Managing Director of School-Toilets.co.uk - one of the UK’s leading suppliers of drinking fountains, bottle filling stations and sanitary washware for schools.

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