The US and, in fact, most developed countries around the world have an obsession with bottled water. This obsession is creating an obscene amount of waste; waste that can be greatly reduced by using reusable water bottles.
Between the years 2002 and 2005, the sale of bottled water in the US doubled, going from 15 billion bottles sold to 29.8 billion. Sadly, the Container Recycling Institute estimates that only 20% of these bottles are recycled.
It is not only the issue of waste that makes water bottles an environmental nightmare, it’s their production. It takes about 47 million gallons of oil to produce the 1.5 million tons of plastic needed to fill the water bottle demand of US consumers.
I’m sure you’ve seen it already, but it’s just such a good video I needed to post it. The Story of Bottled Water does a wonderful job of summarizing the issues surrounding our passion for water in a plastic bottle:
I’m sure if our ancestors looked at our consumption of bottled water, they would simply shake their heads at the absurdity of it all.
Luckily, there are two things we can do to stop this cycle: 1) don’t fear tap water and use a reusable water bottle, and 2) if there isn’t already a bottle bill existing in your state, push for one. The eleven states that currently have a small, refundable deposit on water bottles and other plastic drink containers recycle about 490 containers per capita annually. The remaining thirty-nine states that don’t have bottle bills recycle about 191 containers per capita. It’s amazing how a small financial investment can change behaviours.
Now the trick with reusing a water bottle is that it is recommended that these bottles be single use only. A chemical called bisphenol-A, also known as BPA, is known to leach from some bottles made of polycarbonate into the contents of the bottle. This chemical has been linked to developmental issues, cancer, and other health problems in animal test studies.
However, even if the bottles do not contain BPA, single use bottles made from plastic#1 may contain Bis(2-ethylhexyl) adipate, or DEHA. DEHA has shown to be a carcinogen in lab animals but as yet the health effects on humans are inconclusive. Good to know though, particularly if you subscribe to the better safe than sorry philosophy in life.
If you can’t reuse a purchased water bottle, then you need to seek out a quality reusable water bottle. It needs to be BPA-free and it has to be sturdy so that you don’t have to replace it frequently. After all, there are resources that go into the making of reusable water bottles too.
Five drink worthy reusable water bottles
To help you take the first step and trade in your toss away plastic for a reusable water bottle, here are five of my top choices:
- Klean Kanteen stainless steel: If the BPA scare turned you off plastics forever, you may want to look into Klean Kanteen’s 100% recyclable and BPA-free stainless steel bottles. These bottles are durable and lightweight and can hold warm (not hot) and cold beverages. There’s lots of variety in sizes and there’s a wide mouth version, optional sports cap, an insulated bottle, and even as a sippy model for kids. Be aware though that just because it’s stainless steel doesn’t mean it’s BPA free – be sure to check!
- Nalgene’s BPA-free plastic: Nalgene recovered quickly from the BPA era and came out with a BPA-free copolyester bottle in wide mouth or narrow mouth. I had a Nalgene in University and had it not been for the discovery of BPA leaching I would probably still have it. These bottles are lightweight, fully recyclable and virtually indestructible as they are guaranteed for life. If you’re not fond of the screw cap, you can get an on the fly model that has a one-handed push button to open/close for when you’re on the move.
- Functional and fashionable: The Swiss company Sigg is known for the funky designs on their water bottles. I’ve seen loads of the kid sized bottles around too. You can get an optional screw top with a clip hook for easy attachment to a backpack or belt loop. The small opening makes cleaning a little more challenging, but a bottle brush can help with that. Sigg and the Food and Drug Administration guarantee that the inner lining does not leach BPA.
- Temperature tolerant: If you’re looking for something with a little more range in liquid temperatures, have a look at the Thermos Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Bottle. Thermos has been around for years and is known for its quality products. So much so it has literally become a name synonymous with insulated bottles. It keeps your colds cold and your hots hot for 4-6 hours.
- Collapsable and lightweight: Platypus makes a soft BPA-free water bottle that is perfect for travelling when weight is an issue. When it’s empty, this bottle is 80% lighter and more compact than an empty solid bottle of equal volume.
If you follow EcoVillageGreen, chances are you’re already using a reusable water bottle. However, we all know somebody, whether it’s a work colleague, a relative, friend or neighbour that indulges in bottled water. So, give the gift of information and pass on some of the statistics that surround the bottled water industry and if you can afford it, give a reusable water bottle while you’re at it.