90 per cent of cost in packed water is for the plastic bottle: AmrutDhara

Anyone who had been on a picnic or on a train journey in the 1980s will remember the ‘Cool Jack’ or large thermos filled with cold water as an essential piece of luggage that every group carried.

The idea of buying “mineral” water on a trip was deemed as waste of money.

Now, the situation has changed drastically.

The erstwhile indispensable ‘Cool Jack’ has now become completely dispensable, with almost every shop selling one and two litre water bottles with varying degrees of cooling. The bottles themselves are use and throw, with most beaches, railway stations and public roads being littered with these clear plastic bottles.

Is it not possible to have water without creating waste?

AmrutDhara, a local social entrepreneur group has launched an awareness program called “water without waste” to tackle problems to the environment posed by used mineral water bottles.

Through the program, they are looking to reach out to the various shops to sell water out of the larger cans by the litre.

Rather than paying close to Rs. 20 for the water, the consumer will be paying Rs. 6 for a litre that they can take away in water bottles they are carrying, Min from AmrutDhara said.

The cost of bottled water ranges between Rs. 15 and Rs. 25 per litre, which is more than the price of half a litre of milk or even a couple of teas at a local tea stall. Around 90 per cent of the cost of the water is because of the bottle, he said.

Bottled water accounts for 1.5 million tons of plastic waste and less than 20 per cent of the bottles get recycled. What is worse is that there is no guarantee that the water bottles that are being sold are genuinely safe for drinking since there is a lot of contamination due to the plastic itself.

“While I knew that plastic bottles are not really safe, so far, it was the only option available. Now, if shops start selling water by the litre as long as we have a bottle, we will be more inclined to bring a bottle,” Seshadri, one of the visitors said.

In addition, AmrutDhara is also running a social media campaign. The data collected on the beach will be compiled into a report will be used for further studies. More details are available at www.amrutdhara.in.

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