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Monthly Archives: February 2016

Re-use of Plastic Water Bottles

Many people visit a store and buy a bottle of water, then continually re-fill that bottle for a day or multiple days. Is this a sound practice?

First, I am still astounded that we even pay money for water, let alone up to $6 for a 600ml bottle in an airport. If you had told me 30 years ago that people would be buying water and paying upwards of $5, I would have had you certified as insane.

Well, knock me over with a bus ticket. It is happening, and to an extraordinary level.

What concerns me right now though is the re-use of these bottles. There are four challenges that I would like to highlight and to validate why I believe these bottles are single use and should not be re-used.

First, there is the BPA (bisphenol-A). BPA was identified as an estrogen-mimicking compound in the 1930s. It was used back then as growth promoting agent that caused the fattening of cattle and poultry. It was also used as an estrogen replacement therapy for women. In the 1940s, chemical companies started using BPA in plastic manufacturing as a hardening agent.

Around the same time, Phthalates were being used in plastics manufacturing as they helped make the plastic softer. Together these two chemicals helped make plastics that were stronger but more pliable.

BPA Free Bottle

A BPA Free Water Bottle from Nalgene.

Phthalates are one of the most pervasive endocrine disruptors we know of and have been associated with a number of developmental abnormalities. It is well known that both of these agents begin to leach out of the plastic over time and are best kept as a single use container.

Second, as the plastic wears and deteriorates, microscopic cracks appear in the surface, both inner and outer. A 2007 report titled “Bottled Water Myths: Separating Fact from Fiction,” published in the journal Practical Gastroenterology,3 warns that “consumer reuse of commercially packaged bottles of water is not recommended from a microbe perspective.” The bottles begin to wear and tiny cracks appear creating a space for microbes to thrive.

Finally, I am still flabbergasted at the amount of waste these bottles create. I feel that each and every one of us could make a bigger environmental contribution by making sure we have our own water bottle with us and ensuring we know we can fill them. In a modern society, we should not need bottle water. It is really only laziness that creates the demand in the first place.

If we look at it from a financial perspective, there is a huge saving to be had. Let’s take for example a person who spends $5 per day on bottled water. If that $5 was used to pay extra on a mortgage, and for example let’s look at a $300k mortgage, the total saving would be $47k in interest and the mortgage being fully paid off 6.75 years sooner.

Looking from a bigger perspective, the landfill problems being created by plastic bottles are at the point of catastrophic. I know that purchasing and disposing of one bottle doesn’t make much difference, but 10 million people thinking the same thing several times per week is no less than a wrecking ball to the environment.

I recommend workers purchasing their own good quality, hard plastic water bottle that is BPA free. These can easily be found online. And remember, drink 1 litre of pure, clean water per 25kg of body weight per day. When the temperature is high, drink enough o ensure your urine is water coloured.