Search ‘how to go zero waste‘ or ‘ways to be more environmentally friendly’ and you will find an endless stream of articles with tips to help you reach your eco goals. While we absolutely adore that nowadays there is a wealth of information on environmental topics since it is an important discussion, the issue is that this abundance often leads to information overload.
Information overload can have a paralyzing effect, making many hesitant to take the first step into zero waste living. Often, this is for one of two reasons:
They are unsure of where to start. With so much great advice, it can be difficult to pinpoint where you should start—making the whole endeavor feel overwhelming.
They feel they have to do everything. A common downfall of transitioning to zero waste is making too many changes at once, especially in the initial stages. Instead, it is best to identify a couple of problem areas and tackle those first. This makes zero waste solutions more sustainable over the long term and makes the whole process less stressful.
If you relate to either reason above or are just looking for an easy way to start your zero waste journey, a reusable water bottle is a great idea. This sustainable swap is simple, can help keep you hydrated, and assists in creating a planet healthy! Here is everything you need to know about switching away from single-use plastic water bottles.
Why Say No to Plastic Water Bottles?
Knowing exactly why you’re making an eco-swap can help your stick with it in the long run. Here are 3 reasons to avoid single-use plastic water bottles.
They’re Polluting the Oceans and Killing Wildlife
Plastic in the ocean is a growing problem—there is already a garbage patch the size of Texas in the Atlantic— and plastic water bottles are among the top contributors. As plastic degrades, it breaks down into microplastics, which fish and other marine life commonly mistake for food. These plastic fills their stomach, making them feel full while providing zero nutrition, often leading to death from malnourishment. It is estimated by 2050 that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
They’re Hardly Ever Recycled
An argument commonly used in favor of single-use water bottles is that they can get recycled. However, only 9% of plastic ever get recycled. The rest makes its way into waterways and landfills where it takes 400 years to degrade and can contaminate the groundwater. And it isn’t just a few water bottles—1 million water bottles are sold per minute globally. That means that over 1.3 billion water bottles go unrecycled daily.
They Add Up
The beauty of zero waste living is that beyond helping to preserve the environment, it often has the side benefit of cutting costs. And water bottles are no exception. A pack of water may only cost a few bucks, but buying a pack a week can easily add up to over $150 per year and 1,248 plastic bottles (at the rate of 24 bottles a week).
Alternative Options for Single-Use Water Bottles
There has never been a better time to ditch single-use water bottles. Reusable bottles are not only widely available, but they come in a variety of materials, sizes, and colors to suit everyone’s needs. Here are a few options you should consider:
What You Have: If you already have a reusable water bottle from a conference swag bag or one you bring to the gym, use that. When transitioning to zero waste you should always use what you have on hand before you buy new. Plus, this is the most cost-effective solution. What if it is a reusable plastic bottle? There is nothing wrong with reusable plastic. But if you really don’t feel comfortable using it, donate it to a friend or thrift store when you pick out a new bottle.
Metal Water Bottles: If you love cold water, a metal water bottle is a great choice. These bottles are usually good for both hot and cold beverages, excel at preserving temperature, can prohibit bacteria growth, and help you avoid BPA.
Glass Water Bottles: The beauty of a glass water bottle is that you can see exactly what is inside at all times, so you never have to guess if you cleaned it thoroughly. Another upside is that it won’t leech chemicals over long-term use—unlike some plastics. However, they can shatter if dropped, even if they have a protective sleeve, making them an unideal option for small children.
Plastic Water Bottles: Plastic is never an ideal option when it comes to zero waste. However, a reusable plastic water bottle still trumps single-use ones. Therefore, if that is the only option available to you, don’t sweat it.
Carafe: Looking for a little luxury? Place a water carafe with a glass or two at your desk or on your bedside table. They are a great way to functionally boost any decor.
Cups: Whether sitting at home or conducting a meeting, sometimes a few old-fashioned cups or glasses are a good way to go. At meetings, in particular, a pitcher of water with glasses is an excellent alternative to water bottles and throw away cups.
Water for Your Reusable Water Bottle
Reusable water bottles are only part of the equation for swapping away from plastic water bottles—you’ll also need to figure out what water you’re using.
On the Go: Many water fountains now have filtered water bottle filling stations attached to them. If these aren’t widely available to you, you may want to opt for a water bottle with a built-in filter.
Home: In places where tap water is safe to drink, filling your bottle straight from the tap is the most cost-effective option. If you find it has an odd taste, leave it out on the counter for a few hours to allow chemicals like chlorine to dissipate. Prefer filtered water? Fridge filters, under the sink filters, and tap water filters are all good options. Even though they will produce some waste, it is still the lesser of two evils when compared to water bottles. However, suppose you truly want to go completely zero waste for water. In that case, charcoal sticks placed in a water jug is a great option.
Zero waste doesn’t have to be hard. And all it takes is one simple change to your lifestyle to get started, like a water bottle. Water bottles are not just conveniences that help keep us hydrated—they’re also tools to help save the planet and help us lead greener lifestyles.
Jacob Hatch is the author and founder of Hydration Anywhere. He has been actively writing about drinking water since 2013. These days Jacob spends most of his time investigating water related news, studying environmental issues, reading health studies, and reviewing products like water bottles and water filters.