Decision tree: should I drink bottled water?

I am beginning to play around with sketching out processes, relationships, and structures related to my thesis project. Stacie lent me Napkin Sketch Workbook by Don Moyer, which has some great ideas in it.

After looking through my survey results, I thought about making a decision tree—how do people decide whether to drink bottled water? I used to think it was a simple process:

An oversimplified version of the decision to drink bottled water

But after reading through my surveys and thinking through the process, I believe it is much, much more complex. Maybe something like this (apologies in advance for my messy handwriting):

More realistic depiction of the decision process

I also added the decisions that happen after someone finishes their bottle of water. Because this is also a big part of the problem; by some accounts, 80% of empty single-use bottles are thrown in to the trash (not recycled), and 38 billion empty bottles are thrown away each year (

It’s amazing how such a seemingly simple decision is actually so complex. Not really sure where this leads me, but I do think it’s good to get a realistic picture of the decision paths that lead to the behavior you’re trying to change.

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2 Responses to Decision tree: should I drink bottled water?

  1. Sarah Phares says:

    You may have already seen this but Wired had an article on decision trees (related to health) last year. As for where you could go with this, seems like it could be really helpful in identifying your audience, or locating critical decision points with potential for biggest impact. As far as content goes I think cost is part of the larger decision too. My roommate and I were going to rebuy a brita pitcher recently but saw the price and decided against it. Suddenly we trusted/liked our tap water a little more…

  2. Thanks so much for the link! It looks like a great article.

    Also, good point about cost… that should definitely show up in this decision tree. To the drawing board…

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