Most people feel very virtuous when they grab a bottle of water off the supermarket shelf rather than that carbonated sugar bomb or preservative-laden fruit juice, but have you ever stopped to think about what you're buying?
The same going for popping the seal on that bottle of water at a conference in a fancy-schmancy hotel, where you just know the waiter is going to have a shock-induced coronary if you dare to ask for tap water.
But here's the thing... Would you stop reaching for that bottled water if you knew you'd save enough oil to power SA's cars for an entire year? Or how about if you knew that for every 1 litre you drink, 2 more litres were wasted in the manufacturing process?
The Protea Hospitality Group looked at those statistics - and quite a few others equally scary - and decided it was high time to end the mad cramming of water bottles into landfills, where they'd still be decomposing long after Captain Kirk asked how many fingers he was holding up trying to do the Vulcan salute in the 23rd century.
The hotel group has started a process to phase out bottled water in their conference facilities and rooms, and more than 30 hotels are already using an environmentally-friendly in-house water purification/bottling system this is saving thousands of bottles from ending up in landfills daily.
"As much as the environment is important to us as a group, we also realise it's important to the companies that conference with us. They seek to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible when they travel and this goes a long way towards offsetting that carbon footprint," said PHG Group Operations Director William Ford.
And according to Ford, over the next few months another 30 hotels will replace plastic water bottles with reusable glass bottles and water purification/bottling systems, further reducing the company's landfill contribution.
The new bottling systems come from Vivreau, the company that provides the White House and Michelin-star restaurants throughout Europe and the US with drinking water. Vivreau systems provide for filtered water to be bottled on site in sterilised reusable glass bottles rather than the single-use plastic water bottles that are used in most other hotels and conferencing facilities around South Africa.
This is not only good news for the environment, but for guests, too. Complimentary still bottled water is available on restaurant tables at every meal, in reception areas and in guests' bedrooms, as well as in hotel bars, providing added value for visitors.
Ford said: "The Protea Hospitality Group doesn't see sustainability as a range of new activities because we've been sensitive to the environment for many years and we are always looking for new ways to reduce our carbon footprint. We recognise that this is a holistic process that calls for a shift in the way we approach the range of issues that face our business on a daily basis and that is what the move to Vivreau water is all about."
Ford added that the transition in the 30-odd hotels from plastic bottled water to filtered water in glass bottles had been an unmitigated success with no complaints from guests or hotels.
Take a look at this disturbing infographic: