Q. Our office uses a water dispenser instead of individual bottles of water. Is this still bad for the environment? Is it a waste of money?

A. At a 1000x mark up, jugs of water are still an expensive alternative to tap water. Like individual bottles of water, dispensed water can be seen as more convenient and more consistent in taste. It may even be perceived as safer. Since the municipal water supply is tested regularly, the latter is merely a perception.

A number of campus facilities have water fountains with attached water bottle refill stations that dispense filtered, chilled tap water.

In terms of the environment, the transportation of bottled water wastes fuel and causes the generation of related greenhouse gas emissions.   If staff members in your department still want dispensed water, because they want it chilled or because they perceive a taste issue with tap water, that’s their choice to make. You can, however, encourage them to reduce waste by reusing a glass, mug, canteen, or bottle instead of using disposable cups.