The Dreadful Facts About Reusing Water Bottles
We’ve all been told a million times before that we should never reuse plastic bottles. Especially the ones that have been designed for one-time use, such as plastic bottles for sodas, fruit juices and bottled water. Yet, we do it anyway and we tell ourselves that it might not be so bad or that we’re trying to be more environmental.
But is this habit really hurting us, and if so, how much damage could reusing water bottles be doing to our bodies?
While it might not kill you on the spot, reusing water bottles has an insidious way of depositing unwanted compounds into our bodies and it’s eating away our health more than you think. If you don’t believe us, read on.
FACT #1: Just because you only used it for water doesn’t mean the bottle is clean.
It’s great that you’re trying to take care of the environment, but just because you’re using the plastic bottle for water only doesn’t mean that you can just reuse it the next day without washing it.
A study from the University of Calgary took samples out of school kids’ water bottles, all of which had been used several times that week without being washed. At the end of the study researchers found that the water bottles contained far more bacteria than what is legally allowed in clean drinking water.
Your plastic water bottle, as it is being used and reused, can harbor tiny scratches and cuts where bacteria can be hard to reach and will be hard to clean out. The same sort of thing happens to your cutting board and look at how gross your cutting board tends to look despite being washed after every use.
Plastic water bottles, because they are often kept in room temperature, actually encourage the growth of bacteria that the bottle has picked up from your hands and mouth.
FACT #2: Washing your plastic bottle could be hazardous to your health.
Well this certainly poses another problem for those who reuse water bottles on a regular basis. In order to make your plastic bottle microbe-free you have to wash it with soap and warm water – the only problem is, washing with soap and warm water has been repeatedly proven to make the plastic more likely to leak out chemicals into your drink.
This is especially true for plastic bottles marked with a ‘1’ because that means they are only meant to be used once and they were not designed to withstand washing. Even sturdier types of plastic are not totally safe, as exposing these containers to boiling water (as in sterilization of baby bottles) or cleaning them in the dishwasher is a recipe for disaster.
The leaching of chemicals from your plastic container into your water is not likely to leave you dead in a matter of hours.
However, substances in plastic like BPAs highly resemble estrogen and can serve as hormone disruptors in the body. These products, because they resemble so many of our hormones can mimic or block the activity of certain hormones in the body, throwing the body’s processes out of whack. These “out of whack” processes have been positively linked to the development of certain types of cancer.
FACT #3: Plastic is difficult to dispose of.
Maybe one of the reasons why you started reusing plastic bottles in the first place was so that you could lessen your carbon footprint. But try as we might the mere fact that we’re still using plastic means that after we’re done with them they’re going to end up in a landfill or in a baby whale’s tummy.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC/plastic #3) and polystyrene (plastic #6) have been found to release harmful toxins and carcinogens when incinerated. When they’re not incinerated they still end up in a landfill somewhere and all the biological degradation releases the toxins into the soil which may eventually end up in our water sources.
Despite the fact that many types of plastic, like PET bottles, are completely recyclable, millions of them still end up buried underground.
To protect yourself and your family from possible bacterial infection or poisoning it is better to use water bottles made of less reactive material like glass or stainless steel.