Time for the Great Water Bottle Debate. We have a lot of competitors in the ring for this one. First up will be the disposable water bottles (e.g., Dasani, Aquafina). Then tomorrow we’ll assess the reusable water bottles; Nalgene, Sigg, etc.
Disposable water bottles are pretty easy to sum up. Here’s the deal:
1. Probably not “pure mountain spring water”– most likely, the water is no better than what comes out of your tap.
Unfortunately, the bottled water industry seems to have taken advantage of many of us. Some statistics claim that over 40% of bottled water sold is the same tap water that comes out of your bathroom faucet. Thankfully, we live in a country where much of our tap water is considered “safe” (we can have another blog about the tap water later…). The EPA tests tap water approximately once per day. On the other hand, the FDA tests bottled water supplies about once per week and the FDA doesn’t have to report their findings to the public (or the EPA) if they find a quality concern.
2. If you’re in a thirsty bind and platic bottles are your only choice, then buy a big bottle and drink up. Recycle your bottle when you’re done. Don’t make your disposable bottle a reusable bottle- the plastic begins to break down after repeated uses and temperature fluctuations.
On recycling: Approximately 38 billion water bottles ended up in US landfills in 2006. Earth 911 has a few other facts about water bottles to check out.
On leaching: There is a lot of research on the issue of leaching plastics. There’s also a lot of debate on whether it’s a real concern. I’ll give you a little more science tomorrow, but there is an easy answer when thinking about the disposable bottles. These types of bottles have been assessed by the FDA and deemed safe when “used as intended”. The intention is that these bottles will be used ONCE. Further, be aware of how you’re storing these water bottles before you drink them. The longer the bottles sit and the more exposed they are to light and temperature fluctuations (i.e. heat) will cause an increase (and/or hastening) of the plastic that leaches into your water. So, buy your bottle when you’re in a bind, drink it not long after purchasing and recycle it. If you rely on your bottles and buy in bulk, keep the bottles in a cool, dark space.
3. Look for water or unsweetened/lightly sweetened tea in a glass container. Honest Tea makes some really yummy teas in glass bottles. And as a bonus, you can reuse your glass container without fear of leaching.