Could you tell the difference between tap and bottled water?
Not many University of Wollongong students or staff could do so during an environmental initiative on campus yesterday.
The simple taste test also fooled this reporter who thought the fresh-tasting "sample one" must have been the bottled water, as opposed to the slightly metallic-flavoured "sample two". Not correct.
That's because there isn't much, if any, difference between the two, said UOW environmental project officer Alexandra McPaul - which is why she's baffled that Australians spend more than half a billion dollars a year on bottled water when they can get it for free.
More than 50 students made a pledge to give up bottled water for a period of time, or for good, during the event held by UOW's Environmental and Sustainability Initiatives Unit.
"Bottled water has to be processed, transported and refrigerated - all these things use up a lot of energy," Ms McPaul said.
"It's a waste of resources - as is the use of plastic for all those bottles. Statistics show that only 36 per cent of plastic bottles are recycled, so the rest just go to waste."
Unit staff gave away reusable stainless steel water bottles to students and also promoted the 43 refill stations and bubbler locations on campus, which have been integrated into a campus map.
"We're trying to make people aware that bottled water is tap water in a bottle," Ms McPaul said. "And that buying bottled water all the time has a negative impact on the environment."
Bachelor of Science student Jessica Walsh took the pledge to quit bottled water. "I prefer to refill water bottles, as it's nice and easy, it's free and it's sustainable," she said. Ben Nicholls, an engineering student, also took up the challenge.
"Bottled water is just a waste of money - and resources," he said. The unit's environmental manager Lisa Miller said the water-wise event was part of a whole range of environmental initiatives being undertaken.