Forget that margarita—the recession has hit your drinking glass. Looks like people aren’t willing to give up eating out just because money is tight, but they’re cutting their checks down by ordering tap water. Although restaurant traffic has declined slightly (just one percent) in the last five years, a recent study by New York-based research org NPD found that tap-water orders increased by 2.8 billion servings since 2006. The 5,550 adults surveyed for the report confirmed that cost concerns were the reason they opted for tap over bottled water or other beverages.
Even with all the belt-tightening, tap water only accounts for eight percent of the 50 billion beverage servings ordered at restaurants. Soda and coffee are still much more popular, at 49 percent.
Still, any decline in bottled water is a step in the right direction. Peter Gleick, author of Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water, found that between 1980 and 2006, tap water consumption fell by almost 36 gallons per person in the U.S. Contrast that with the sales of bottled water: 85 million bottles were sold every day in the United States in 2010, Gleick recently told NPR. That’s a lot of plastic.
So ordering tap water saves money and cuts down on waste. Whether it impresses your date is another matter altogether.