The startup, which calls itself Boxed Water Is Better, distributes water in milk cartons under the premise that paper packaging is gentler on the earth than standard-issue PET plastic bottles. Seventy-six percent of each carton comes from green-certified trees; it’s then shipped flat to the water supplier, cutting back on transportation waste. The cartons can be recycled. And 20 percent of the profits go toward tree and water relief organizations — though, it should be noted, that that hasn’t happened yet because, as the company says, “we’re still paying for our start-up costs.”
On environmental merits alone, boxes beat plastic with some caveats. (Read Treehugger’s full analysis here). But that comparison may be moot, considering that cartons are unlikely to replace bottles in terms of practicality. Imagine jogging with a milk carton or trying to put it in your purse after you’ve already opened it. You might as well stick a hose in there. The best that boxed water could hope for is to replace tap water — and tap water is kinder to the environment than any packaging out there, whether plastic, glass, or paper.
Still, some consumers are going for the pitch. Boxed Water Is Better sells to everyone from coffee shops and yoga studios to the uber-trendy Standard Hotel in L.A. Maybe that kind of roster — which the company says has expanded since it was released — tells you what’s really being sold here: