The Shady Truth About Carton Water

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Water drinkers always seem to be seeking new ways to up their environmentally-friendly game. Spending as much as $50 on a fancy reusable water bottle is a millennial trend, according to The Atlantic. Drinking from an ordinary plastic water bottle, meanwhile — the kind your supermarket sells in pallets — is looked down upon in certain circles.

Carton water, on the other hand, has been embraced as a more sustainable option for water drinkers who don't want to tote a reusable bottle. They still seek to eschew those plastic bottles that may pollute our oceans. "We believe that packaged water should be healthy and pure, and that's why Boxed Water is 100 percent BPA and phthalate free, free from impurities, or the things you don't need," Daryn Kuiper, CEO of Boxed Water is Better, told Food Dive. "Boxed Water offers a choice that aligns with consumers looking for a better option in packaged water — a more sustainable and more thoughtful option."

But you might not be doing Mother Earth that many favors by drinking cartoned, either.

Carton water still creates waste. Plus, it's very expensive

Most carton water brands rely on a combination of paper and other recyclable ingredients, like plastic and aluminum, that are seen as more sustainable, but this does not eliminate the problem of waste, according to Fast Company. That's because only specialized facilities are able to recycle these materials, and many cartons will still end up in landfills. In some countries, the cartons even end up dumped on beaches and in the ocean just like plastic water bottles (via The Guardian). That being said, in an email to Mashed, Boxed Water is Better Chief Marketing Officer Rob Koenen explained, "72 percent of Americans have access to curbside recycling of aseptic cartons — this is up from 50 percent a few years ago and we envision it will increase even more as people switch from non-renewable products."

In the meantime, though, carton water can be a bit of a drain on your piggy bank. Depending on the brand, you'll pay about $30-$35 for a 24-pack of cartoned water (via Amazon). Compared to your basic store-brand bottled water brands, that can run about $30 more per pack, though Koenen points out that the comparison is less jarring when looking at premium bottled water brands."Our price points are intentionally kept lower than most premium waters like Fiji, Voss, even though our hard costs are most likely 3x theirs," he said in an email.

But if you do buy carton water, you should recycle the cartons with your cans, plastics, and glasses, not water bottles, or paper (via Business Insider).