Guys, lets just cut the excuses. There is no reason to buy bottled water.
The world currently produces approximately 1 million plastic bottles per minute. Only a fraction ever make it into recycling and to make it worse, recycling is mostly a myth. You see, while plastic can be recycled, it can never be recycled to a quality close to its original form. It can only be downgraded. Which is why, for example, Nestlé Waters North America only use 6% recycled materials in their bottles.
This month, I challenge you to stop buying bottled water.
Get yourself a nice water bottle you love, and take it with you everywhere you go. Choose from glass, metal, BPA-free hard plastic, bamboo…
Reuse a wine bottle or find your perfect personalized Klean Kanteen or Soul Bottle, if you want to spend the money.
When you buy bottled water, most of the price tag goes to the soon-to-be-trash-bottle. And why would we buy water from a spring in France (or worse, drawn illegally form rivers during droughts) and shipped halfway around the world, if you can just open your tap and drink your local water, basically for free?
Buying a long term bottle may be expensive but the repeated purchase of bottles of water add up to that same amount in no time. Nuff said.
I once had a job catching lizards on the company grounds of a bottled water manufacture. As we got out of the car and I put my glass bottle of tap water from home under the car for shade, an employee of the company pulled up, got is briefcase out of his car and asked me why I had brought my own water. I didn’t really have an answer because bringing my own water is so natural to me and I had never before been asked WHY I would do that. I said something about unnecessary transport and money. When I mentioned packaging, I seemed to have hit the keyword the employee wanted and he told me “these young people always just follow trends because its cool but never even think about their choices properly”. He said something about the mineral value of their bottled water, at which point my charmingly direct, no bullshit, middle aged, Dutch colleague appeared from behind the car holding a fishing rod (altered for lizard catching) and said “well actually, your bottled water tested quite high for nitrite making our local tap water healthier than your product”. Checkmate.
The moral of the story: Just because the company sells you a pretty image of a picturesque mountain spring and nymph-like, forever young ladies, the product might just be as good as, or worse than your tap water.
Generally, I think most of us can relax about the quality of tap water. I have been to many obscure places all over the world, drinking from taps and the worst thing that ever happened was a slight belly ache, easily aided with just one cup of peppermint tea.
If your tap water tastes bad, try buying a filter and see what happens. You can also buy water bottles with a built in filter that you can just throw in your bag ant take it along wherever you go.
Check with your municipality and convince yourself of the mineral values your tap water has.
Of course, if you have no access to safe drinking water, I am obviously not asking you to poison yourself. Your ideal option here is to buy a big of a container as possible with multiple Liters capacity. Some supermarkets, as I saw in Windhoek in the desert country Namibia, offer to fill up your own containers if you bring them.
Some Helpful Tips For a Life With Reusable Bottles:
If you left something other than water sit in the bottle too long, or if you suck on a bottle a lot, particularly if you are reusing a plastic bottle intended for single use, you might notice a not very appetizing smell. Put a splash of Vinegar into the bottle and shake it around. Really work on the bottle’s mouth with a rag soaked in vinegar. It gets rid of smells and is an excellent bacteria and mold killer.
If its bad, you might need to make use of a bottle brush (plastic free ones are available most places). Baking soda and vinegar combined take care of pretty much anything.
Otherwise, wash as you do your other dishes.
Refilling on the Go
Ideally, one day there will be public water fountains everywhere. Many major cities, especially in warmer places are in the process of installing more and more public fountains.
You can always try asking at bars and restaurants if they might be willing to refill your bottle from the tap. Depending where you live, you can expect varying answers. In Germany, where I am now, many used to refuse due to the “Thekengesetz” (till law) where vendors are not allowed to take “contaminated” items from customers behind the till. But this practice is loosening and most places will now put coffee in your keep cup or bread in your cloth bag.
Some vendors may want payment for their tap water. Or try to sell you their bottled water instead, making up random “rules”.
OR, like in the UK for example, reducing plastic waste and bringing your own bottles with you is encouraged and there are even Apps like Refill, which has a map showing you participating bars etc. closest to you. These places usually also have a Refill sticker on their doors so you can find them stumbling around offline. Similar Apps also exist in regions of North America and South East Asia, although they are not yet great… but you can help them grow by downloading.
Don’t Let Them Confiscate Your Bottle
Producing a lasting bottle is more energy intensive than producing a single use bottle. So, when you buy a proper bottle, for it to make ecological sense in terms of climate change, make sure you use it long term.
- Do not take glass bottles with you to festivals or other large gatherings. Security will take it away from you. Metal bottles are in the grey zone. Security might judge differently depending if it is more of a fairy folk fest or a death metal concert.
- If you attend a demonstration, the only “allowed” option is a plastic bottle. Glass and Metal might be categorized as weapons, be confiscated and possibly get you into legal trouble. When attending likely chaotic demonstrations, I bring an old hard plastic bottle, where I won’t be heartbroken if I loose or break it.
- And of course, passing through security at airports or important buildings. If they scan your bag and find a bottle of liquid, they will want to confiscate the whole bottle, no matter how expensive it was. Sometimes, taking a sip in front of security is enough to prove the content is non-explosive. The closer to the US border patrols you are, the less likely it is, they will believe you and your beverage are in fact harmless. It is best to empty your bottle in a bathroom before going through security. Once I was sort of late and lost running for a flight and I suddenly found myself in the line for security scanning. I had no idea where and how far away the next bathroom was so as I moved forward in line, I started chugging my completely full, rather large water bottle. The people behind me started cheering me on and we all celebrated when I managed to finish it just in time and was permitted to take the empty bottle with me.