How worried should I be about using a plastic water bottle?
Have you ever wondered why soda is sold in plastic bottles, juice comes in plastic bottles and milk comes in plastic jugs, but alcohol is nearly always sold in glass containers? According to an article on NewsNation, the Brewers Association says it is because “The molecular structure of most plastics is not good at keeping carbonation in the package/product or keeping oxygen out to prevent staling.”
That begs the question, if plastic is not an ideal container for beverages, should we be drinking water out of glass? Which is the healthier option: plastic or glass?
Why do beverages come in plastic bottles?
Beverages come in plastic bottles because of practicality. Since plastic bottles cost roughly the same to manufacture as glass bottles, the benefit is in the weight and the durability. Plastic bottles weigh much less than glass bottles, so they are easier to transport — which actually makes them a greener option in that respect. Also, plastic bottles are far less prone to breakage. This feature is important for shipping, stocking and consumer use.
Why are plastic bottles bad?
For all the good that plastic bottles offer the manufacturer, the retailer and the consumer, there are a few resounding negatives that are hard to overlook when it comes to plastic bottles.
Plastic can hold odors
If you’ve ever taken lunch to work in a plastic container, you may have noticed that it has a tendency to absorb odors. It doesn’t take long for that container to greet you with a cacophony of undesirable smells whenever you open it. The same thing can happen with your water bottle. Bacteria from your mouth and food you’ve eaten can make the water smell less than pure.
If it smells, it’s creating vapors
Plastic has a distinctive smell. Unfortunately, we can only smell particles that we inhale. If plastic smells, that means it is releasing volatile components.
It’s the bacteria, not the chemical leaching, that can be an issue
While chemical leaching is a big talking point with plastics, it really isn’t all that much of a health concern unless you are storing your water bottle in high-heat areas. What you do have to consider is bacteria growth. Your water bottle can pick up bacteria whenever you drink from it. If you like your water at room temperature, you’d be surprised how much bacteria can grow in your water bottle throughout the day.
Plastic isn’t kind to the planet … or you
It can take plastic as long as 450 years to decompose in a landfill. That means every plastic bottle that has ever been thrown out is still here. Even worse, when plastic bottles do break down, they create harmful microplastics that filter into the environment, can be found in drinking water and eventually make their way into your body.
What are the pros and cons of a glass water bottle?
Glass is a great choice for the individual who wants to have on-hand drinking water at home. Glass is made from organic ingredients. It does not absorb smells, and it does not leach any toxic chemicals into your water. It also does not allow liquids or gasses to penetrate, and it is reusable.
However, glass is not perfect. Bacteria can still grow in a glass bottle if it is not regularly cleaned, and it is much heavier than plastic, making it difficult to transport. Also, glass will break if dropped, which adds other travel concerns. Some types of glass are not safe for extreme temperatures, so they cannot be put in the refrigerator or microwave, and some bottles must be hand-washed.
So which is healthier: plastic or glass?
If you are considering buying a reusable water bottle and health is the primary concern — not portability — then a glass container is the clear winner. With a good lid, it seals your water bottle, allowing the water to stay fresh. Most importantly, a glass water bottle doesn’t leach chemicals or absorb smells and it is endlessly reusable, as long as you don’t break it and you keep it clean.
What about stainless steel?
A third option is stainless steel. While stainless steel can leach chemicals when used as cookware, it doesn’t tend to leach in plain drinking water. It is durable and can be vacuum sealed for insulation to keep your water cold (or hot). On the downside, some people do not like the taste of water in a stainless steel container. Bacteria can also grow on stainless steel, so it still has to be cleaned regularly.
Best water bottle options
Adidas Squad Glass Water Bottle
This glass water bottle from Adidas is 24.35 ounces. The double-screw interchangeable lid works with all Adidas steel and glass bottles, and it features ounce and milliliter markings for measurements. You cannot microwave or freeze this water bottle.
Sold by Amazon, Kohl’s and Macy’s
Purist Collective Maker 10-ounce Element Top Water Bottle
The Purist is a ruggedly built 10-ounce water bottle that has a double-wall vacuum insulated shell that can keep your beverage hot or cold for up to 24 hours. The interior is made of unbreakable glass to offer the best drinking experience.
Sold by Backcountry
Grosche Venice Glass Water Bottle with Bamboo Lid
This decorative water bottle is made of borosilicate glass, making it safe for hot and cold drinks. The stainless steel lid is covered in natural bamboo to provide a secure grip. This model features a sleeve that helps insulate your beverages for up to an hour. The wide-mouth opening easily accepts ice cubes.
Sold by Macy’s
Fasteyasy 16-ounce Water Bottle
The Fasteyasy water bottle features a whimsical design that comes in such colors as desert rose, marigold, sea green, teal lake and more. It is dishwasher safe, microwave safe and sized to fit in a cup holder for convenience.
Sold by Wayfair
Kate Spade Apple Toss Glass Hydration Bottle
Kate Spade products are known for their stylish design. This double-walled glass water bottle is no different. It features a chic apple motif and has a wooden lid. The container holds 15 ounces and must be hand-washed.
Sold by Amazon
Aquasana Glass Water Bottles (Six-Pack)
This six-pack of glass water bottles costs less than most individual options. If you have a family that you want to keep hydrated, this dishwasher-safe set is a good way to go. It is important to note that the lid is made of BPA-free plastic.
Sold by Amazon and Home Depot
Pure Drinkware Endurance Water Bottle
For individuals who want something a little different, this is an antimicrobial stainless steel water bottle. It is rugged, triple insulated and comes with a spill-proof, twist-on lid. The bottom features a nonslip cushion so your water bottle stays in place.
Sold by Staples
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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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