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Drinking water is good for your health, but single-use water bottles have become the face of the movement against disposable plastics — and for good reason.
More than half a trillion plastic bottles are sold annually, according to BeyondPlastics.org, and less than one third make it into the recycle bin.
“Only a very small portion of the billions of plastic water bottles that we use in the US each year actually get recycled,” said Nicole Deziel, an associate professor of environmental sciences at Yale.
The majority wind up in landfills, waterways, or elsewhere in the environment. It can take hundreds of years for plastic bottles to break down, and they can contribute to climate change when they release carbon dioxide and methane as they degrade or are incinerated.
Reusable water bottles are a great way to cut down on plastic use and reduce that impact. In fact, a simple switch to a reusable water bottle can save 156 plastic bottles per year.
What type of reusable water bottle is best?
The original refillable water bottles were often made from a hard, reusable plastic, like the classic Nalgenes or the various branded sports bottles that filled the cabinets in my house in the early 2000s. I remember choosing which one I’d use for soccer practice based on how terrible they made my water taste, and I finally understand why.
“Reusable plastic water bottles, often made of things like polyethylene, are also of concern because chemicals can similarly leach out from these plastic bottles into your drinking water,” Deziel said. Those chemicals include bisphenol-A, which has largely been removed from most hard plastics and other products due to safety concerns.
Vigorously washing plastic bottles in hot water, which is bound to happen over time, encourages the leaching of any chemicals in the plastic. “Even if they are labeled BPA-free [free from bisphenol-A], there are many other chemicals that are in plastic and, in fact, manufacturers have substituted BPA with other chemicals like BPS [bisphenol-S], which are structurally similar.”
If you’re concerned about any chemicals leaching out of reusable plastic, Deziel suggests stainless steel, which is also durable and can offer insulation, or a glass bottle with a silicone sleeve to prevent breakage.
How much water should you drink every day?
The amount of water you should drink in a day varies based on a number of factors, said Stavros Kavouras, a professor of nutrition and director of the Hydration Science Lab at Arizona State University.
“How much you need to drink is related to how much water you lose and what kind of food you eat,” Kavouras told BuzzFeed News. In addition, hotter weather and more physical activity will increase your need to hydrate.
The simplest way to figure out how much water you need to drink is to pay attention to how often you go to the bathroom (and what it looks like when you go).
“To stay well-hydrated, you’re supposed to go to the bathroom at least six to seven times per day,” Kavouras said. “Look at the color. If it’s too concentrated, more like apple juice and less like lemonade, you’re not drinking enough. The darker your urine color means your body is trying to conserve water.”
He recommends keeping water within an arm’s reach at all times so that it’s easy to sip throughout the day and setting reminders when it’s time to drink, if that’s helpful for you.
To meet your hydration needs, here are the best reusable water bottles when it comes to portability, ease of use, ability to clean, and insulation to keep liquids cold or hot.