Sustainability has become a big talking point both online and in real life in recent years.
This has been partly fueled by recent revelations from scientists that suggest we have just twelve years to change the way we treat the planet because the damage we’ve done and continue to do has irreversible consequences.
This news has opened many people’s eyes to the impact their choices are having on the environment, with many beginning to enquire in changes they can make to improve the planet in the long run.
One of the most popular changes people have begun to make is switching from single use plastic bottles to alternative, more reusable options, like stainless steel.
Some people have criticized this, citing the fact that the majority of the damage done to the environment is done by corporate companies, leaving them wondering if this small change could be having that much of an impact on the environment overall.
The reality is that yes, your individual change will make a significant difference when it comes to reducing the deterioration of the planet over time.
Even if you aren’t interested in the environmental side of things, there are a lot of other reasons to consider switching from a plastic water bottle to a stainless steel one, which we’re going to explain to you throughout this article.
How Much Waste Do Plastic Water Bottles Produce?
Before we get into how much waste plastic water bottles produce, it’s important that you understand the amount of bottles consumed every year.
According to statistics obtained by The Guardian, more than 480 billion plastic water bottles were sold in 2016. This is a significant increase from the 300 billion sold a decade ago, back in 2006.
If changes aren’t made, it’s predicted that this will increase to 583.3 billion by 2021, a staggering figure which could have detrimental effects on the environment.
Americans contribute to a large proportion of this number, with statistics showing that we consume 1500 plastic bottles of water every second. This is the equivalent to 50 billion bottles of water a year.
Of this number, only 20% are actually recycled. The rest of these bottles end up on one of the several thousand landfill sites present in the US.
It’s difficult to ascertain the exact number of plastic water bottles recycled around the world, but it’s clear that they largely contribute to the 91% of plastic that isn’t recycled around the world.
As you can probably already tell, the extreme use of plastic bottles around the world produces a substantial amount of waste.
This is made worse by the fact that most plastic water bottles are not biodegradable in nature.
As a result, most plastic water bottles we use will still be around long after we have left this planet.
Some scientists predict that water bottles take an average of 500 years to start breaking down, which is a significant period of time when you consider that most are only used once.
It isn’t just what happens after a plastic water bottle has been used that creates waste, however.
Did you know, for example, that a single water bottle takes ¼ bottle of oil to produce?
The byproduct left over from this is then unable to be used for other purposes, creating a lot of waste over time.
To put this into perspective, it takes 17 million barrels of oil to make a single years supply of bottled water, which is enough to fuel 1.3 million cards for a year or power 190,000 homes.
Are Plastic Water Bottles Bad For The Environment?
You might have already realized that the amount of waste plastic water bottles produce has a significant impact on the environment.
The reality is, with so many bottles being created and used just once before being thrown away, the size of landfills in the U.S and around the world are increasing.
With over 2 million tons of plastic water bottles ending up in landfills every year that haven’t been recycled, finding the space for them when they take several hundreds of years to disintegrate isn’t easy.
You might think you’re reducing your impact on the environment by throwing your plastic water bottles in the designated recycling bin, but this isn’t necessarily the case, either.
In fact, over the last few years, the US and other first world countries have been exposed for sending large quantities of their plastic waste to developing countries.
In 2017, the US exported 70% of their plastic waste intended for recycling to China and Hong Kong.
When China cracked down on this and banned the transfer of recyclable plastic in 2018, the US simply switched tactics and sent nearly half of all plastic waste to Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam instead.
This transport adds a significant amount of pollution to our air every year, contributing to the deteriorating ozone layer.
The countries that are being saddled with the plastic that our country cannot deal with are also struggling, and don’t have the same luxuries in place to recycle the plastic we are saddling them with.
This means that many of these countries are incinerating the plastic, which is extremely bad for our environment as it releases black smoke into the area, or are simply adding it to their own landfill sites.
The polluted air and ever expanding landfill sites around the world are not our only concern, as plastic water bottles are also infiltrating our oceans.
There have been rumors about there being a floating patch of trash in the Pacific Ocean, but what if we were to tell you that this information was actually true?
It is, and scientists estimate that this patch is about the size of Texas, or 121 million football fields.
Although just 10% of the plastic we use each year ends up in our oceans, around 90% of ocean trash is plastic.
It wouldn’t be unreasonable to suggest that a large portion of this plastic is from the use of single use plastic bottles, the second most popular beverage in the U.S.
Once in the ocean, plastic water bottles begin a process called photodegradation, where sun rays break the plastic into tiny pieces.
Eventually these pieces become so small that they are ingested by marine life and enters the food chain, killing 1.1 million marine creatures annually.
Choosing plastic water bottles also shows your support for companies who purposefully operate in areas with limited water supplies.
By doing this, these companies are leading to significant problems with water for local residents and wildlife.
Perhaps one of the most famous incidents where this has become a problem is in California, where strict swimming pool and hosepipe bans have been put in place to protect what little water residents do have access to.
In some developing countries, however, this has gone even further than that, with Pakistan currently experiencing a water shortage due to the plastic water bottle companies.
This damages the environment in the long term as it destroys rivers and seas, and will lead to a deterioration in the numbers of certain wildlife and other animals who rely on these water sources in order to survive.
Dangers Of Drinking Plastic Bottled Water
For as long as bottled water has existed, we’ve been told that it’s perfectly fine to drink and is even healthy for us.
While consuming water definitely does improve our health, commissioned reports in recent years have suggested that bottled water may not be the safest way to consume it.
One of the biggest concerns that you’ve probably heard of is that most plastic water bottles contain BPA.
Otherwise known as Bisphenol A, this is a chemical compound that poses a significant threat to humans and animals.
As plastic is a porous material, this toxin will leak into the water you drink from a plastic water bottle, potentially putting you at risk of harm.
Studies have shown that BPA disrupts endocrine function, and also impacts the reproductive system in fertile women.
A 2018 one of its kind study also found that BPA has been linked to irritable bowel disease.
The dangers of BPA are well known, with countries including France, Canada and Belgium completely banning the substance from being used in their plastics.
In the US, however, the FDA still considers BPA to be safe, meaning you will be ingesting the harmful toxin with every sip.
You aren’t safe if you live in one of the countries where BPA has been banned, though, with many BPA-free products still containing a number of toxins that can be dangerous when ingested.
As we mentioned earlier, plastic is a porous material, making it incredibly difficult to clean completely.
This means that, during storage, harmful bacteria can grow on the bottle that you will then ingest when drinking the water.
If you’re using your plastic bottle a few times before throwing it away, this is something that could be incredibly dangerous as it could lead to mold growing, which could put your health at even more risk.
Are Stainless Steel Water Bottles Better Than Plastic?
If you’re looking for the short answer then yes, stainless steel water bottles are definitely better than plastic ones.
There are many reasons for this, which we will explore in just a moment, but one of the defining differences between the two is that stainless steel bottles are far easier to keep clean.
Plastic, on the other hand, is a porous material that means it will retain flavors from previous drinks no matter how much you try and clean it.
That means that, even if you purchase a reusable plastic bottle, you will only ever be able to fill it with water if you don’t want to risk it tasting of another substance.
This also makes plastic bottles a far bigger health hazard than stainless steel bottles as we’ve mentioned above, because there’s no way of preventing mold and bacteria from developing.
Stainless steel bottles can obviously be reused for longer periods of time than plastic bottles, too, which makes them a more sustainable resources and a great option for those looking to improve their impact on the environment.
With this being said, you do need to be careful to make sure the stainless steel water bottle you’re investing in is of a quality where it is safe to be used by humans.
This is because, with the rising popularity of steel water bottles, more brands are coming onto the market, and not all of them use the best ingredients.
In fact, some studies have found that certain brands have made steel water bottles with toxic levels of lead in them.
You might think this only occurs in cheaper brands, or those from China, but this isn’t necessarily the case, with some high profile brands being caught up in this PR nightmare.
To make sure you aren’t ingesting these toxic levels of lead, you need to make sure that your stainless steel water bottle is made with 18/8, food-grade stainless steel. This means that it contains 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel.
If you are sure of where to start, our Kool8 bottle has been rigorously tested to make sure that it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals, making it the perfect stainless steel water bottle for beginners.
The Environmental Impact Of Steel Water Bottles
If you’re worried about the environmental impact of steel water bottles, your concerns wouldn’t be completely unfounded.
This is because, at least to begin with, their production is more harmful to the planet than plastic water bottles.
You would need seven times as much fossil fuel to produce a single 300-gram stainless steel bottle than a plastic equivalent, which releases fourteen times more greenhouse gases.
Though this initially seems worrying, it’s easy to put this into perspective when you understand that you’re going to get far more use out of a steel water bottle than you will out of a plastic one.
In fact, if you are going to drink more than 50 bottles of water in your lifetime, which most people will considering the average in the U.S is 165 bottles per year, then stainless steel is the better option.
Stainless steel also reduces its environmental impact by being made up of many already-recycled materials.
Broken down, this works out as 25% old scrap, 35% new scrap which has returned from production, and 40% new materials that are added to it.
In addition to these factors, the truth is that stainless steel bottles are far more kind to the environment when it comes to recycling.
Unlike plastic, which doesn’t always go on to be recycling even when consumers have the best intentions, stainless steel is almost always recycled.
With this being said, it does require a certain level of effort as most curbside recycling programs won’t accept your steel bottle.
This is because the materials from these collections are usually crushed and made into bales of materials for easy transportation, and steel bottles are notoriously uncrushable.
Instead, if you’re getting to a point where you can no longer use your stainless steel water bottle, you need to get in contact with your local solid waste authority to identify the location of your nearest steel recycling factory.
As aforementioned, however, this process is worth doing as it almost guarantees that your bottle will actually be recycled at the end of it.
Even if your stainless steel water bottle does end up at landfill at the end of its use, this will be less harmful to the environment than plastic as it won’t leak chemicals into the soil and water on the landfill it’s been disposed into.
What Are The Benefits Of A Steel Water Bottle?
In this article, we have already shared some of the main benefits of having a steel water bottle over a plastic one.
This includes doing your bit for the environment, which ensures we’re limiting the damage we’re doing to the planet in the short time we have left to do so.
It also includes your health, which is extremely important when you consider the harmful chemicals you could be inviting into your body by sticking with plastic.
With that being said, we know there are a variety of different reasons behind people’s reluctance to make the switch.
We also know that different benefits will speak to different people, which is why we’ve produced this comprehensive guide stating all possible benefits of switching from a plastic water bottle to a stainless steel one below.
Tap Water Tastes Better Than Bottled Water
A lot of people refuse to drink tap water as they believe it tastes worse than bottled water, but this isn’t necessarily the case.
In fact, 25% of all bottled water produced in the US is just tap water that companies have transferred to a bottle. This means that you could already be drinking it without noticing.
There are also a number of studies which suggest people would be more likely to pick tap water over bottled water in a blind taste test.
Despite these studies, there are some people who refuse to drink tap water because they believe it is unsafe to do so.
In places like Flint in the U.S, where there are ongoing problems with water pollution, this is certainly the case.
In most other places throughout the U.S and indeed worldwide, however, this isn’t the case.
Many places will now have strict regulations in place to monitor tap water and make sure it is safe to drink, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act in the United States.
Stainless Steel Water Bottles Are Cheaper In The Long Run
The initial outlay of a decent stainless steel water bottle can seem excessive, especially when you’re looking at spending at least $30 for a decent one.
When you consider that you’re probably spending an average of a dollar every workday for a plastic bottle of water, however, you will soon recoup what you’ve spent.
Research shows that you could be paying as much as 2000 times more for bottled water than a gallon of tap water, so even switching in that department will save you money over time.
A Stainless Steel Water Bottle Will Save You Time
The other side to buying single use plastic bottles everyday is that they require you to purchase them from somewhere, and most people don’t do this in advance.
This means you’re adding extra minutes to your journey to visit a shop on the way into work, or are missing time at your desk in order to purchase a bottle during work hours.
Though it may only be minutes, this soon adds up, and takes time away from something more meaningful you could be doing.
There’s also the chance that you’ll run out of water during the day and may have to make a second trip, especially if the water bottle isn’t good enough quality to refill throughout the day.
With stainless steel water bottles, however, all you need to do is fill them up at your kitchen tap and you’re ready to go.
This takes thirty seconds and can literally be done on your way out the door.
The best part is filling up at work is easier, too, as you just need to visit the staff room instead of locating a nearby shop or vending machine.
You Can Personalize A Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Plastic water bottles are what they are; there’s absolutely no opportunity to personalize them to suit your tastes.
While this isn’t necessarily the biggest problem in the world, it can be nice to be able to tie in what you’re carrying with your style.
With stainless steel water bottles, there are so many different designs and colours available on the market that it’s impossible not to find something you like.
You may even be able to find several you like that you can pick between depending upon the type of event and how you’re feeling on the day.
They Provide You With Privacy
Another problem with plastic bottles is that they are completely see through, meaning everyone can see what you’re drinking.
This isn’t such a problem if you’re drinking water, but what if you don’t like water, or want something with a little more sugar in it later in the day?
In some workplaces and other establishments, there is a strict water only policy in place, and having a see through bottle prevents you from breaking this.
With a stainless steel bottle, however, nobody else will know what you’re drinking, allowing you to consume what you want when you want.
They Come In Varying Different Sizes
Have you ever gone to purchase a plastic water bottle and realized the shop only sells small bottles that you’d have to get several of to last you the day, or so big you can’t carry them in your bag?
One of the big misconceptions about stainless steel water bottles is that they aren’t travel friendly and all come in one big, standard size.
This has changed in recent years, however, with different brands offering different sizes to suit everyone’s tastes.
Whether you’re looking for something as small a 300ml, or something as big as 800ml, you’re guaranteed to find a stainless steel bottle that accounts for this.
The good news is with a stainless steel bottle you’ll always know what you’re dealing with before you leave the house, instead of having to make do with what a shop have on offer when you get there.
They’re Extremely Durable
Stainless steel water bottles are by nature far more durable than most other reusable options on the market, including glass and plastic.
This is because stainless steel is made up of several different strong metals, making it incredibly resistant to being damaged.
If you drop it out of your bag or from a big height, you may find that it dents, but this often doesn’t interrupt your ability to continue using the stainless steel water bottle.
Stainless steel can also perform a function known as passivation, which is where the chromium within stainless steel heals itself after it has been scratched or minorly damaged where oxygen is not present.
This means that your stainless steel bottle is not necessarily irreversibly damaged the moment it has been scratched, and may go back to looking as good as new if you give it time to recover.
Stainless Steel Aren’t Much Heavier Than Plastic
As aforementioned, many people presume that stainless steel is bulky and extremely heavy, but this isn’t true.
Although stainless steel is metal, it’s a fairly lightweight one, meaning you should be able to carry it around in your bag all day without facing any more problems than you would when carrying the plastic alternative.
You Can Clean Stainless Steel Easily
One of the biggest problems with plastic water bottles, other than their impact on the environment, is the fact that they’re made from a porous material.
This means that it’s impossible to completely clean them of bacteria and flavorings, making them the perfect breeding ground for mold to grow.
Stainless steel, on the other hand, is so sterile and easy to clean that it’s often used in hospital operating theatres.
Although you probably don’t need to get your stainless steel water bottle as clean as that, cleaning it is still extremely easy and effective.
All you need to do is rinse it out in the sink and place it in the top drawer of the dishwasher, or simply wash it by hand with soap and water in the sink.
You can also purchase stainless steel cleaners which will return the metal to its original shininess if desired, though this isn’t always necessary, especially on colored stainless steel water bottles, or those with designs.
Stainless Steel Water Bottles Ensure Better Temperature Control
There’s nothing worse than trying to enjoy water on a hot day when you’re drinking from a plastic bottle.
This is because they provide the perfect conditions to heat the water quickly, providing you with little relief from the hot weather when you take a sip.
Most stainless steel water bottles, on the other hand, are doubly insulated, meaning your drink will remain cold for at least 24 hours.
It isn’t just hot days that make stainless steel a reasonable option, however, as the double insulation also means they keep drinks hotter for up to 12 hours on colder days.
Despite increased awareness of sustainability, it’s clear to see that the most popular way to consume water is through plastic water bottles.
Americans alone are responsible for consuming 50 billion bottles a year, with only 20% of this number being recycled, and over 2 million tons ending up on landfills every year.
Not only do these statistics cause massive problems when it comes to waste in the U.S and indeed around the world, but it also has a significant impact on the environment.
When you consider that plastic bottles take several hundreds of years to disintegrate, there are many opportunities for them to destroy our ecosystem after we have used them once and disposed of them.
One way that they are doing this is via the ocean, which is where 10% of the plastic we use each year ends up.
This has led to a floating patch of trash in the Pacific Ocean that is the size of Texas, or the equivalent of 121 million football fields.
This plastic, a lot of which can be traced back to disposable plastic bottles, also starts a process called photodegradation once in water, where the sun ran rays break plastic down into tiny pieces that are then ingested by marine life.
It isn’t only the environment and our marine life that suffer as a result of our use of plastic bottles, however, as they are also putting our health at risk.
As plastic is a porous material, the toxins used to create the plastic leak into the drink and we consume it as we drink it.
One of the worst components is BPA, which inhibits the hormone production system and has led to fertility problems in women. It has also been linked to irritable bowel syndrome.
With all this considered, it’s easy to see why we are recommending stainless steel water bottles over plastic ones.
Although they do initially require more energy to produce than a single plastic water bottle, it does eventually work out as far less when you consider that stainless steel water bottles last an average of 12 years before they need to be replaced.
They also come with a number of benefits, including the ability to keep your drinks cold in the summer heat and saving you money.
If you’ve decided that you want to give stainless steel bottles a go based on what we’ve shared in our article, why not start your journey by investing in one of our Kool8 stainless steel water bottles today?