It’s high time that we ban disposable plastic water bottles except in the case of emergencies. They’re a scourge on our planet and they’re not good for your health either. They’re also more expensive than using reusable bottles, such as those made with glass or stainless steel. Here are the ways that plastic water bottles are bad:
1. Plastic water bottles may be harmful to your health.
Plastic water bottles contain BPA and phthalates, two industrial chemicals that can interfere with the body’s hormones, including testosterone and estrogen, and which have been linked to brain problems, such as depression, as well as cancer, diabetes, and obesity. (Wikipedia)
Yeah, you heard that last one right. Plastic might be making you fat.
Plastic Water Bottles Can Make You Fat
If the cancer, hormone disruptions, and brain problems aren’t enough to freak you out, both BPA and phthalates are known “obesogens” – toxins that disrupt the function of your hormones, as well as your healthy intestinal bacteria, causing imbalances that lead to distorted hunger cravings, a slower metabolism, and an increase in fat cells and fat storage – all of which can lead to weight gain. In addition, obesogens have been shown to increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol. (Prevention)
- Long term exposure to even low doses of BPA cause a rise of insulin production. Too much insulin is a risk factor for obesity.
- In a study published in the journal Nature, Harvard and Brown University epidemiologists compared levels of BPA in the urine of almost 1,000 U.S. women who reported gaining weight over a 10-year period. The women with the highest levels of BPA reported gaining about half a pound more per year than the women with the lowest levels. Other studies show that BPA may accelerate fat-cell differentiation, disrupt pancreatic functioning, and cause insulin resistance, all of which can lead to obesity.
Although there are regulatory standards limiting phthalates in tap water, there are no legal limits for phthalates in bottled water – the bottled water industry waged a successful campaign opposing the FDA proposal to set a legal limit for these chemicals. (NRDC)
BPA, Other Endocrine Disruptors, and Babies
BPA is especially harmful to babies. Just as you wouldn’t expose fetuses or babies to alcohol because their livers are not yet fully developed enough to filter out the toxin, you shouldn’t expose babies to BPA for the same reason.
- A young, developing child without a fully matured means to deactivate BPA could be carrying concentrations of the compound that are more than 10-fold higher than the levels in adults. The results suggest that children are very likely to be the most severely affected by exposure to BPA and related endocrine disruptors. (Environmental Health News.org)
Plastics Are Polluting Your Body Like They’re Polluting the Planet
Unfortunately, 90% of Americans already have BPA in their bodies. This is an added reason not to continue overloading your system with it.
“BPA-free” and “phthalate-free” plastics are not better.
According to a study in the National Institutes of Health journal Environmental pHealth Perspectives, coauthored by University of Texas-Austin Professor of Neurobiology George Bittner, “almost all commercially available plastics they analyzed leached synthetic estrogens.” This was even when they were not exposed to microwave or dishwasher heat or the sun’s ultraviolet rays. (Mother Jones)
- 81% of Americans have detectable levels of BPS, a “BPA-free” alternative, in their urine. And once BPS enters the body it can affect cells in ways that parallel BPA.
2. Plastic water bottles are contributing to one of the largest environmental catastrophes of our day.
Have you heard of the Pacific Gyre, sometimes referred to as the Pacific Garbage Patch? It is a gyre (or vortex, or whirlpool) of garbage with exceptionally high relative concentrations of plastic, chemical sludge, and other manmade debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre.
This video from that National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) explains what the Pacific Gyre is:
The Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of the state of TEXAS.
Now, we challenge you to go tell a Texan that their state is insignificant. You don’t have to be a Texan to know that Texas is frigging huge. Now imagine telling all the citizens of Texans that you plan to cover their entire state two times over with chemical sludge and plastic junk.
They’d boot you outta there faster than you can scream, “The Alamo!”
The Pacific Garbage Patch is a foul, disgusting, and embarrassing representation of the amazing human mind becoming completely unhinged.
All because we must have our plastic and we like to drink water from “disposable” plastic bottles…
Here are some ugly stats about bottled water and its impact on our beautiful, beleaguered planet:
We are using a lot of plastic water bottles.
- 1,500 is the number of water bottles consumed in the U.S. alone every second.
- In just one week, from bottled water alone, the U.S. produces enough discarded bottles to circle the planet five times. (Environmental Investigation Agency)
We are not recycling them enough.
- 167 is the average number of plastic bottles used per person annually in the U.S. Only 38 (23%) of those bottles gets recycled.
- Because Americans recycle only 23% of PET plastic, 38 billion water bottles are thrown away annually. This equates to $1 billion worth of plastic that could have been recycled and used as carpeting, synthetic decking, playground equipment, and new bottles and containers. (The Huffington Post)
We are wasting money on plastic water bottles.
- The average cost per plastic water bottle is $1.45. Americans spend $242 per person per year on bottles of plastic water that are harming our health, animals’ health, and the environment.
We are polluting our environment and killing other species with them.
- Water bottles are made of completely recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastics, which do not biodegrade; instead, they break down into smaller fragments over time. Those fragments absorb toxins that pollute our waterways, contaminate our soil, and sicken animals, which many humans then eat. (The Huffington Post)
- Plastic bottles and plastic bags are the most prevalent form of pollution found on our beaches and in our oceans. (Huffington Post, Ocean Conservatory)
- Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales, and other marine mammals, and more than one million seabirds die each year from ocean pollution and ingestion or entanglement in marine debris. Marine debris is manmade waste that is directly or indirectly disposed of in oceans, rivers, and other waterways. (SeeTurtles.org)
The Problem with Aluminum Water Bottles
You may see aluminum water bottles on the market. While they’re not plastic, aluminum bottles don’t cut it either. Aluminum is already in a lot of products we use, and exposure to high doses can pass the blood brain barrier, leading to neurotoxicity. In addition, aluminum water bottles are often lined with materials that contain BPA or other chemicals. (Why would they line them with plastic? We can only guess to prevent the leaching of aluminum into the beverage itself.)
- Aluminum has been implicated as a potential risk factor in Alzheimer’s Disease and for elderly cognitive impairment. Aluminum levels in the brain increase with age. In one study, they were over 20-times higher in the elderly than middle aged people. And a correlation was found between aluminum levels and “densities of senile plaques and neurofibrillary tangles.” In addition, clinical intervention to lower brain aluminum by chelation has been shown to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s Disease. (U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health)
We think this is enough to just say no to aluminum water bottles!
Why risk your health when it’s so easy to drink from a reusable water bottle that is not controversial – for your health or the health of our planet?
Get in the habit of carrying your stainless steel or glass water bottle with you at all times like you carry your cell phone!
If you get in the habit of carrying your reusable bottle with you wherever you go, you won’t be tempted to use plastic water bottles when you’re thirsty. The stone-cold reality is that plastic water bottles could be harming your health and they are definitely harming our beautiful planet, as well as the animals with whom we share this planet.
It might seem like an investment to spend $15 or more on a water bottle, but if you consider the average American is spending $242 per year on plastic water bottles with all of their misgivings, then investing in a few reusable water bottles for you and your family is well worth it! Santé!
Reusable Glass Water Bottles
Overall, glass water bottles seem to be the safest bet for your health and the environment. Glass is inert, meaning it doesn’t leach into the food or beverage it contains, and it’s non-toxic. Glass is also easily recycled. The only two downsides to glass are that it breaks and it can be heavy.
Fortunately, there are a number glass drinking bottles available today that come in protective silicone covers to prevent them from breaking. Silicone is non-toxic, and it’s not considered a hazardous waste. However, it doesn’t decompose, so it needs to be recycled. Usually you have to recycle it in a specialty recycling center. See my post on reusable glass water bottles to see some from the best brands.
Stainless Steel Reusable Water Bottles
The other best option I found for safe, reusable water bottles that are also eco-friendly are those made with stainless steel. Stainless steel is considered safe for water bottles, as well as other containers like cooking pots, because it’s one of the most inert metals, so it leaches a very minimal amount of metal. It should be noted that it has been known to leach nickel, chromium, and iron into the liquid or food it contains.
Depending on how strict you are about avoiding metals in your food and beverages, stainless steel is second only to glass. In my research, I didn’t find anywhere near the controversy of using stainless steel food containers that I did with plastic and even aluminum. In addition, stainless steel is eco-friendly because it can be recycled. See my post on stainless steel water bottles to see some from the best brands.
To your health! Cheers!