There are lots of tragedies in the world, and I probably don’t need even a brief illustrative list to bring that home for you. If you’re a young person who doesn’t know how s/he can save for retirement – or if you’re on this blog for almost any reason really – you’re probably not someone who often deals with a huge problem facing others in the world: a shortage of potable water.

water bottles suck fountains.jpg

Water, water, everywhere, loads of drops for you to drink.

I hate seeing people lolling around in their Under Armour and casually chugging disposable water bottles for a few reasons. Let’s wade right in: It’s typically a stupid, and wasteful, use of your money to buy drinking water when you have access to drinking water otherwise. You’re seriously messing with the environment, you’re looking like a fool paying for a commodity you already get for free (air in a can*, anyone?), and you’re contributing to a crappy future for the world as you needlessly stock landfill after landfill with your plastics. Plastics we should be saving for the people in the world who actually need good drinking water, not for your “just so parched in this meeting three conference rooms away from the water fountain that I need this thing” needs. Plastics we should be innovating out of anyway to discourage its production since Americans are bad at recycling.

“Ew,” you say, “what’s environmentalism doing on a retirement blog?” Preserving the environment’s future is conceptually indistinct from how you should be thinking about your financial future. At its essence, retirement savings is planning for yourself in the long term, and you need to ration what you have now to sustain that future self. Consuming disposable water bottles is not only a waste of money, but it’s also a bad habit that hurts you along two dimensions: habitually, you’re reinforcing behavior that makes you a wasteful person who can’t hold onto your money, and consequentially, you’re ruining the earth you one day want to live in. Not smart, not savvy, not something to keep doing. Grab a reusable water bottle, use a tap water filter if you need to, and don’t obey every thirst at every moment in most situations. Deprive yourself for the 5-20 minutes it will take you to find potable water from a tap and drink your water then. That’s $2 in your pocket for 10 minutes of time, plus a load of fossil fuels saved on creating and transporting your water bottle. Not bad!

Intermission for an FAQ

Question: Is global warming real?

Answer: Whether it’s real or not, bottled water consumption is bad for the environment, full stop, completely clear. Why would you keep doing something that hurts the environment?

One final thought on the subject, in chart form: Let’s say you go to the gym thrice a week. (Summer is coming, look at you go.) Each time, you put on the black cape of Captain Wasteful and buy a costly water bottle at your gym. Obviously the gym owners are laying in wait to rip you off, and they do, and so you’re paying $3.50 a bottle each time. You do this for four months because #gtl #summergram and whatever else. At the end of four months, you’re left with the following:

watter bottles hurt retirement

That’s 48 water bottles consumed for a total 12+ gallons fossil fuels used, 58 pounds of greenhouse gases emitted. You lost $168 in retirement savings, and that’s before considering the lost gains – you actually lost more than $175 if you assume 5% gains. On the only slightly more subjective side, you have accumulated bad karma, and you may have made minimal impact to your waistline in this endeavor since you seem like the type to not cook your food either, and eating out makes you fatter.

water bottles suck no landfill retirement

Don’t do this.


Saving for retirement means going beyond yourself and your immediate money situation in order to holistically plan for a better future. You don’t need to drink less, just drink smarter, and your wallet and ecosystem will thank you.

*When I lose more faith in the world, look out for my new business, Ayr in Can (bottled in Brooklyn, cultivated underground in vast grottos alongside the most fragrant flora and potted wheatgrass), and prepare to fork over $9 including sales tax for 10 gaseous ounces.