While water might seem basic on the surface, it’s actually the superfood of beverages. Though it has zero calories and no real nutrients, drinking water is essential for humans.
There’s a lot of conflicting data about how much water Americans drink per day, but according to National Geographic, which cites data from Beverage Marketing Corporation, a family of four goes through a case of plastic water bottles in a week — and that’s a conservative estimate. It might not seem like much on the surface, but added up, it equates to 1.7 billion bottles a year! And sadly, most of those bottles end up in landfills, contributing to the earth’s serious pollution problems. To be specific, the Container Recycling Institute estimates that more than 60 million plastic bottles end up in landfills and incinerators daily.
So what can you do to help reverse this trend and still stay hydrated? Simple: Fill your glasses and reusable bottles with filtered water from your home. This isn’t just the better option when it comes to environmental protection and sustainability, but it’s also a healthier choice for your body and life.
Still unconvinced to switch? Here are eight benefits of ditching plastic that will keep you (and the earth) healthy and happy:
If you buy a new plastic water bottle every time you’re thirsty, you’re probably shelling out anywhere from $1–$4 per bottle, sometimes more. “According to the Institutes of Medicine, fluid consumption guidelines are 11.5 cups of liquid a day for women, and 15 cups for men,” says Leslie Bonci, MPH, founder of Active Eating Advice. If your average plastic bottle is 16.9 ounces and you’re following the guidelines, using your own bottle would save a woman anywhere between $6–24, while a man could save between $8–32, depending on the price of the disposable water bottle. And so many places with high foot traffic — airports, train stations, parks and even offices — have water fountains now, so it’s not difficult to find a place to fill your bottle.
Nobody wants to be part of polluting the Earth. “Plastic bottles are not often recycled, and the single-use aspect of bottled water promotes waste creation,” explains Mary Ellen Mallia, PhD, director of the office of environmental sustainability at the University at Albany. “A bottle can take up to 1,000 years to decompose.” Essentially, that much more pollution is created by using plastic bottles. If you have a reusable bottle, you’re not contributing to this garbage — point blank.
If you carry water with you at all times, chances are you’ll stay more hydrated. “The visual stimulation can encourage us to drink more,” says Bonci. “If we don’t see the water, we may be less likely to think about drinking it.” The key here is to make sure you always have liquid in the bottle. Bonus: Drinking more water can also lead to things like better skin.
Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a chemical found in many products including plastic water bottles. The chemical has been linked to certain cancers in many cases. So by avoiding disposable plastic bottles altogether, you’re also avoiding exposure to possible life-threatening disease.
“Plastic water bottles are often created from oil, specifically a petroleum product called polyethylene terephthalate, also known as PET,” explains Mallia. “This use of oil, coupled with the energy needed to produce the bottle and water, creates carbon emissions.” Therefore, switching to a reusable water bottle or a filtered water pitcher helps reduce your carbon footprint.
If you’re a gym rat, you actually need more water than most because of the amount you perspire when exercising. “Guidelines suggest 17–20 ounces of fluid consumption 2–3 hours prior to a workout, and then 7–10 ounces of fluid 10–20 minutes post workout,” explains Bonci. “The amount you require during depends upon intensity, duration and sweat rate.” Luckily, if you bring your own water bottle, most gyms have a filtered fountain to fill it. And you can do it as many times as you need — for free.
“If water bottles are not recycled, it can lead to the leaching of toxins into the land or, if the bottles are incinerated in waste facilities, toxins in the air,” explains Mallia. Carry your own reusable bottle and you won’t be contributing to a toxic environment for everyone.
While some individuals might like the taste of certain bottled water brands — particularly ones with minerals, electrolytes or alkaline-infused options — and believe the water is cleaner, tap water can be just as clean. That’s because the Environmental Protection Agency regulates the U.S. public water system and runs daily and weekly tests on the water to make sure it’s clear of toxins and bacteria. Water filtration systems can also be added to your faucet to catch all the nasties that pass by your city water filters.