We’ve all reached for a bottle of water when on a road trip, out of the office for the day, or looking for a quick, refreshing beverage after a long hike, and it shows. Demand for bottled water is at an all-time high and expected to keep growing, with Americans alone going through 15.7 billion gallons (59 billion liters) of the stuff annually.
We love the convenience of small water packages we can use and throw away. Not surprisingly, this one-use water bottle habit is harmful to our planet and making us poorer to boot.
There are plenty of good environmental, social, and political reasons to drop our one-use water bottle habit:
- Bottled water is 3,500 times more harmful to the environment than tap water.
- Companies such as Nestlé make fortunes off bottling up water that they paid nearly nothing for.
- Water bottling plants waste large quantities of energy in producing and transporting bottled water.
To avoid all that, choose to reuse, and get an eco-friendly water bottle that is reusable, recyclable, and made from environmentally-friendly materials.
Here are a few eco-friendly water bottle brands worth considering:
- Klean Kanteen: A Certified B Corp and 1% for the Planet member, Klean Kanteen has been producing BPA-free, reusable stainless steel water bottles since 2004.
- Ecovessel: A member of 1% for the Planet and pledging 5% of sales to non-profits, Ecovessel produces stainless steel water bottles in a few different styles, all of which are non-toxic.
- Hydro Flask: A company that has donated $2.5 million to supporting parks, Hydro Flask is another eco-friendly producer of sustainable stainless steel water bottles.
Most sustainable materials for water bottles
Consider these materials when choosing a sustainable, eco-friendly water bottle:
Stainless steel is a highly durable, convenient option for water bottles. They can be used for hot liquids, are most often dishwasher safe, won’t shatter if dropped (though they can dent), are lightweight, and come in a variety of fun shapes, sizes, and colors for every member of your family. These are also 100% recyclable!
Another chemically stable material that won’t leach chemicals into your beverages, glass is a safe bet and great for use at the office or around the house. Glass water bottles can be somewhat heavy and prone to breakage, so aren’t as convenient for use on-the-go. That said, if you add a foam style carrier to your glass water bottle, you can avoid breakage and make carrying easier.
Aluminum is a very lightweight material used to make many types of water bottles. It is durable and shatter-resistant, although can’t always be washed in the dishwasher. While recyclable, aluminum water bottles should not top your priority list as aluminum production produces noteworthy carbon emissions and you would have to reuse your aluminum water bottle around 50 times to make it as eco-friendly as your typical PET plastic bottle.
If plastic works best for you, make sure you choose a recyclable plastic and be sure to stay away from plastic #3 (polyvinyl chloride or PVC), plastic #6 (polystyrene or PS), and plastic #7 (polycarbonate) as these are known to leach chemicals. Plastic #5 (polypropylene or PP) is perhaps the best choice, though plastic #2 (high-density polyethylene plastic or HDPE) and plastic #4 (low-density polyethylene plastic or LDPE) are also okay. PET (plastic #1) is what the typical one-use water bottle is made from.
Additional factors to consider
But, the material is not the end of the water bottle story. When shopping for sustainable water, safe bottles for you and your family, also look for these additional characteristics:
- BPA-free: Bisphenol-A (BPA) can sometimes get released (leached) into water stored in plastic and aluminum water bottles. That’s a problem because BPA is an endocrine-disrupting chemical that is causing many human health problems for adults and children alike and should be avoided. Make sure your bottle is BPA-free.
- Bottle volume: Do you need enough water to last you the whole day or for just a short walk? Think about your needs and a bottle sized to suit your water requirements. If you’re trying to be eco-friendly, don’t buy multiple bottles and choose one versatile size.
- Mouth style: This is completely subjective depending on your preference. If you want to avoid spills, look for one with a push-pull or bite valve, otherwise, go for one with a simple twist-off cap with either a narrow or wide mouth.
- Insulator: Need to keep your water cool throughout the day? Look for a reusable water bottle insulation sleeve that will help regulate the temp of your beverage. However, make sure it’s BPA-free and non-toxic.