Students Aren’t As Dumb as Nestle and Coca Cola Think
by Hardly Waite
Water filtration systems are becoming increasingly popular among some university students, according to Nick Hennessy, sustainability coordinator at Ohio’s University of Bowling Green.
Hennesy said some students are choosing to use water filters because they are a more affordable option. There is an obvious cost difference between filtered water and bottled water, Hennessy said.
“If you drink a minimum of eight glasses of water a day, the cost with a Brita filter would be 49 cents per year, not including the cost of the filters,” Hennessy said. “The same amount of water in bottles would be $1,500 for the year.”
Another university official, Rachel Weber, who was in favor of the switch to filtered water because of the environmental consequences of bottled water, said, “I would like to think it’s because they want to be green, but it’s probably just because it’s cheaper.”
Whatever the reason for the switch to filtered water, Brita may not be a good choice as an economical alternative. Mr. Hennessy’s 49 cents per year cost is without the cost of replacement filters, which can be considerable. When compared with full-fledged, serious countertop filters that have much larger and more durable, and more effective filtration elements, small units like Brita are much more expensive to operate.
Products like Brita are marketed with much the same strategy as razors. The razor itself is very cheap because it creates a long-term customer for the company’s razor blades, which aren’t such a bargain.
Larger units cost a bit more up front, but replacements last longer and cost less. With a Pure Water Products Model 77 countertop, for example, the initial cost of the lifetime-guaranteed filtration unit is $77, but the annual upkeep with the standard cartridge is only $21–a fraction of the upkeep cost of the Brita.
According to water treatment specialist Craig Welch of Pure Water Products, “With a full-sized countertop unit like Model 77, you have many filter replacement cartridges to choose from so you can customize the unit to your taste preferences and to the condition of your local water. With the tiny retail store pour-through units, it’s one size fits all.”