Boxed Water was born Instagram-ready. First, the font, Smart Sans, is a trendy sans serif. Second, it comes in a carton, triggering memories of school year milk drinking days for the nostalgia generation of now. Go to a music festival like SXSW, or a Fashion Week event, and chances are you’ll see them right next to the green juices and coconut chips. So, is it just a marketing gimmick or is it a genius environmental solution to plastic bottle waste?
When we met with Boxed Water COO David Lee, he stressed the brand’s environmental commitment, which has been its raison d’entre from the start. “The entire carton is recyclable and 76 percent of the box is made of paper from well-managed forests,” he tells us.
Since plastic, glass and paper can all be recycled, you might be wondering why paper is better. Lee says recycling paper creates less of a carbon footprint: recycling plastic takes three times more carbon dioxide than paper. Then there’s the fact that plastic and glass never fully decompose, unlike paper, so eventually they will still end up in a landfill.
The company is also strategic about shipping: Shipping the cartons flat to the plants to be filled means less trips. One pallet can hold about 35,000 empty cartons. And instead of just one filling plant (with the water), there are two, one on the East Coast and one on the West Coast, to cut down on transportation distances between the distributors and consumers.
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Still, we can’t overlook the fact that most people don’t recycle. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, only 34 percent of Americans do. That said, paper is recycled slightly more than other materials: 27 percent of recycled material is paper, 13 percent is plastic and 5 percent is glass.
Also, drinking water out of a paper carton still does not beat a reusable water bottle, when it comes to being environmentally forward.
Earth Day action
This Earth Day, Boxed Water is putting its Instagram readiness to good use. Every time someone posts a photo of the product on social media with the hashtag #Retree, Boxed Water will plant two trees as part of a partnership with the National Forest Foundation and 1% for the Planet. Their goal is to plant one million trees by the year 2020. “It’s about giving back to the two things behind our product, paper and water,” Lee tells us.