If you’ve found this blog, chances are you’re already aware of how harmful single-use plastic is to our environment – great! Welcome fellow friend of the planet. But despite plastic bags tending to get all the media coverage, plastic bottles are just as serious an issue. So, let’s have a think about plastic water bottles: why you need to switch to a reusable one, the best bottle to buy, and how to look after it once you have one.
The problem with single use water bottles
Water is good for your skin, mind and body – but when it comes in a plastic bottle it’s not good for anyone. One million plastic bottles are purchased around the world every minute – that’s enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool in about the time you’ll take to read this article.
Sadly, although many of these bottles could be recycled, in reality about 70% of them are incinerated or end up in landfill where they will never fully decompose. Even if you do recycle your bottle, the energy saved is only about a third of the energy required to produce the original plastic from raw materials. That’s much lower than paper for example, which comes in at 60%.
Luckily, people are really starting to wake up to how damaging this is, with big festivals such as Glastonbury in the UK banning single use plastic water bottles last year.
But did you know that using a reusable water bottle benefits you personally, as well as the environment? Single-use plastic water bottles leach toxins and obesogens (chemical compounds linked to obesity) into your water, which have also been linked to health problems such as cancer and reproductive issues. And when bottled water is 1,000 times more expensive than tap water, why wouldn’t you make the switch?
Which reusable water bottle is best?
The case is pretty clear for using a reusable bottle then, but with so many different types out there it can seem a bit overwhelming. Simply, reusable bottles can be:
- Multi-use plastic
Metal water bottles
Which of these options is best for you really depends on your lifestyle. I’m well known for clonking around with my metal bottle because it’s great for having herbal tea on the go – an absolute must for a hot drink addict like myself. Then when I refill it with cold water later on in the day it also keeps it cool and fresh.
The Better Than Stainless Steel Bottle is perfect if you’re a fan of a hot or cold drink. The leak proof lid and double-wall insulated lining gives you complete peace of mind and the perfect temperature beverage.
Hard plastic water bottles
For me, the weight of metal doesn’t especially matter, but if you’re often on the move, hard plastic may be the best choice. They can tint the flavour of your water though, and make sure to get one which is BPA-free. The most sustainable plastic bottles are made of recycled or non-PET plastic, which should be clearly labelled. If it doesn’t say – assume it’s not! Hard plastic bottles don’t tend to have as long a lifespan as metal or glass bottles, so overall, are probably the least sustainable of the three options.
Glass water bottles
If the chemicals in plastic are putting you off, glass bottles are made from completely natural materials, with the added bonus that they won’t change the flavour of your drink. They do tend to be heavier though and some carry the risk of smashing if you’re not careful – although many now come with silicon grips or protectors.
All three options are great, and most importantly safe, but it’s only sustainable if you know you’ll reuse the bottle again and again… and again. So, it’s best to pick whichever you think suits your lifestyle and you will enjoy using.
How to clean your reusable water bottle to make it last longer
To keep your bottle in tip-top condition, follow these three easy steps:
1. Rinse out after each use
This is just to prevent odour or staining.
2. Wash with hot soapy water
Make sure to get into all the corners, especially around locking mechanisms and the neck of the bottle. Take care not to fully submerge insulated bottles as this can damage the lining.
3. Leave it to dry with the lid removed
Since most bottles are designed to be leak proof, leaving them to dry with the lid on will trap odours or moisture inside
And a fourth step every now and again…
4. Baking soda and vinegar
This happy pair from your kitchen cupboard will do a great job of a deep clean. Just wait for the fizzing to stop and then rinse thoroughly.
This easy routine will keep your reusable bottle in sparkling condition for as long as possible.
Worried about purity? Add a filter!
It’s actually a bit of a myth that bottled water is better quality than tap. Did you know that around 24% of the bottled water we buy is actually filtered tap water? But if you are worried about the beautiful water that comes out of your tap, fear not. There are many options for filters around that you can easily add to your reusable water bottle. Water filtration removes water impurities and contaminants.
A wonderfully natural way to purify your water is to use a stick of Binchotan Charcoal, an active carbon made from tree branches and is renowned for its ability to soften water, add good minerals and absorb unwanted tastes and odours, such as chlorine.
The surprising benefits of a reusable water bottle
My stainless-steel water bottle has definitely become a friend now, and I never leave home without it. There’s even been a few benefits that I didn’t expect.
Firstly, I find it much easier to remember to drink enough water for the day. That may sound silly, but it’s really convenient to have it with you all the time as a friendly reminder, with the added bonus that it only needs refilling once to reach your daily water intake. And although I barely notice the extra weight in my bag, 1kg of water in a reusable bottle is perfect for bicep curls at your desk.
Another advantage I’ve found while out and about is that most cafes will happily fill up my bottle free of charge – meaning I can avoid spending money on a beverage and not have to drink something that will almost certainly be served in a non recyclable cup.
The main benefit of a reusable water bottle however is the way that it’s totally customisable to you. Plastic, metal, or glass; infuser, filters or carabiners – make your bottle your own. They come in so many different shapes, patterns and sizes so that you’ll recognise yours instantly amongst the family picnic gear.
A reusable bottle really blows the single use counterpart out of the water. So, what’s stopping you?