Should Water Be Free?
Several restaurants in America recently decided they’re going to stop serving bottled water for ecological reasons, in spite of fact that sales of pricey bottled water are perhaps a significant source of revenue, which helps them stay in business.
Some argue that water should be free of charge and shouldn’t be ‘commoditized’ while there’s an opposing arguement that water is a precious resource and is often wasted because the price we pay is too low and doesn’t reflect the actual cost.
In Italy, carafes of still or sparkling water are commonly offered to diners gratis. However it’s standard practice to often add a coperto (cover charge) to the restaurant check, around 1€-2€, presumably to cover the cost of extras, like water and bread.
(The city of Paris started a campaign trying to wean Parisians off bottled water, offering fancy carafes as incentive. I don’t think the carafes have been quite the grand success since I’ve never seen one in use—although sales of bottled water in France are indeed dropping.)