I think a reusable water bottle/cup is the first and easiest greener and zero waste tip to implement.
As long as you live somewhere where there is good water quality, or water fountains and water bottle refill stations, this is easy to do. If you don’t have good water quality, and you can check reports with your local water provider, you can buy water filters: pitcher, countertop, under-the-sink and whole house systems, or sign up for a water subscription service. There are even reusable water bottles that have filters built in. In general it is hard or impossible to recycle water filters, but hopefully there will be growing opportunities for those items. See Filters: Water and Air.
Phone, keys, wallet, water. Add a water container into the list this year. Good for your body, good for the environment. If you’re going to be outside take two water bottles. When my family goes on litter pickup walks, we take one bottle per person because it ‘s usually hot out and we’re doing a lot of work bending over and climbing on rocks and around trees. Don’t forget to take something to the gym too. My training group was big on Yeti-style cups and we had a water shelf. The refillable water station was on the other side of our workout area so this worked well for our setup.
As the mom of a preschooler I can recommend you have a water bottle in the car for errands, even if you are just down the street from your house and think you’ll be out for like half an hour. Every single time before I implemented this into my routine I had been, “It will be fine.” I was wrong and he wanted water. We did that three times and I was done with it. Always have water in the car. My 5 year old can twist off the tops of these types of water bottles pictured here. He could do it at 4 as well, but he is also very strong. Whatever type of water bottle you get for you child, please make sure they can open it themselves. We also really like the PlanetBox 18 OZ STAINLESS STEEL WATER BOTTLE and Pura Sport Mini™ 11oz Bottle. We started him with Pura Kiki™ 5oz Infant Bottle when he was 7 months old and he wanted water. We cut the Kiki™ Silicone Straw down to fit in their 5 oz bottle when he was a baby. Now he used the Pura Sport Top.
If you are going to be taking a bag or cooler with you anyway, just add in reusable water containers instead of plastic bottles. Maybe even take a water filter pitcher with you if you are picnicking or have a car setup. Or invest in the individual water bottles that have filters built into them. The nice thing about reusable water bottles if that if you get an insulated one, you can add ice and keep your water or beverage cool or cold and then you don’t need the cooler. Pretty “cool” huh?! They also keep water warm. Putting warm water in these when you are sick is so lovely. I fill one up with 2 minute microwaved water before bed and I have warm soothing water to drink during the night when I have a cold/cough.
According to Earth 911, plastic is only able to be recycled 1-2 times and then it is still landfilled. The quality of the plastic degrades and becomes weaker the more it’s used and so it becomes a material that no one is interested in using. Also, plastic doesn’t biodegrade. It just keeps breaking down into smaller and smaller plastic bits called microplastics that end up in the ground, water, animals and now even the air.
The image above is from a litter cleanup in my neighborhood. Plastic bottles and cans are the most common items I find at our parks and ponds. Most cans and bottles I find have ended up in our ponds from storm drains from street runoff and park visitors. Construction crew areas are even worse but I report that to our HOA to deal with because it’s just too much volume for me process as an individual. I was optimistic that I could soak off the nature (mud and sludge) from these ideally recyclable items so they could go into my curbside recycling carts. I was wrong. No amount of soaking, soaping and rinsing cleaned these. The sun seems to bake in the nature onto the plastic. So they all had to go in the trash. Curbside recycling needs to be clean, dry and ideally not crushed. Currently mud, mold, etc. cannot go into the single-stream recycling stream or it will contaminate the recycling material.
When I table I always take two reusable water bottles. Talking for 3 or more hours you get thirsty. Or it’s windy and there’s dust and pollen. Either way, take water to events.
It’s better to have too much water than not enough and feel like you need a single use water bottle or drink.
My biggest frustration, and I do not share peeves a lot, is to see single-use water bottles at interviews and non-conference events. There should be no reason that anyone participating in an interview cannot bring a reusable bottle or cup. I know people love their Yetis, so bring a reusable cup if you prefer, or a mug. The same goes for award ceremonies, church, professional development, long meetings, retreats, classes, etc. Anything inside I think logistically can have a reusable beverage container. If you prefer open top containers like mugs and cups, just check the venue rules and be extra careful not to knock it over with your feet if there is no cup holder, or the cup holder doesn’t fit your item.
I attended a leadership conference at my church last year and it was large though I don’t know the exact numbers. There were pallets of single-use water bottles out for attendees and speakers. All the organizers had to do would have been to include a request or reminder to bring your own reusable water bottle and drink containers to the event to help reduce costs and waste. I suppose one could claim the purchase was still justified since the water could be give to the church’s food pantry or homeless outreach, but I’m not sure if that was the case or happened. If so, they could have included a sign on the water or notice in the conference invite/signup. Sorry, rant over.
If you have health issues that may make it difficult to carry a heavier reusable bottle or cup made of steel or glass, look for food grade silicone or longer lasting plastic even. We want to reduce single-use items so if good hard plastic works best for you do what works for you.
This is a Squeasy Silicone Food Pouch. We use it for homemade smoothies but it would also work for water and other non-hot beverages. They come in many sizes and colors.
Glass tip: Glass is prohibited in most parks and pools, and probably even outdoor arenas (I don’t go to these so I’m making an assumption based on the environement). I love my glass jars, but there are some places you will need to have an alternative non-breakable option.
Even during a weather warning, you can use all the containers and glass bottles and jars you already have to store boiled and filtered water in. If you don’t have them, Buy Nothing, antique malls and thrift stores are great places to find them.
Here’s an example from the end of a winter storm we had a few years ago. The last freeze we had a few weeks ago, I had every jar we had out with boiled water in it.
Glass and metal are infinitely recyclable. Everything else has a set life in that it can only be reused and recycled a set number of times before it too must go in the landfill. I’m going to be a little more serious this year. Recycling is not the answer. It’s how we deal with what we have in the world right now. We do want to do the most sustainable work we can with what exists now, but we don’t want to rely on it or continue the need for such extensive recycling networks and systems. We need to focus on reusables and refillables and transitioning to those options and researching how we make those processes safe and efficient.
I don’t want to discount circumstances that may require single-use water bottles. Natural disasters and unhealthy water quality come to mind. There are a lot of groups, events, and opportunities to find free or secondhand quality and safe reusable drinking containers. If you want a new one, check with your favorite charity, they probably have one and you can support your charity at the same time.
Before you buy a few things to look for:
- Dishwasher safe or handwash only?
- Be honest with yourself. If you aren’t going to handwash it because you are too busy or you don’t like handwashing but it’s awesome looking, get one you can put in the dishwasher.
- Do you have the type of brush needed to handwash the bottle? Do you feel like you can clean it well or will there be hidden parts that are hard to clean like the rim or nozzle/spout?
- Is the lid replaceable if something breaks?
- Research if the company has replacement parts or better yet find an option with no parts that could break. This is why I prefer water bottles with screw top lids. Push on lids tend to break or the seal stretches and not longer works. I like screw top lids.
- What is the lid made of and does it matter to you?
- A lot of times stainless steel bottles come with plastic lined lids or completely plastic lids. Read or look carefully if you want a stainless steel lid or a lid where no plastic comes into contact with your water or liquid.
- No one ever seems to talk about this but color/painted bottles do start to chip at some point, at least a bit on the bottom where the bottle is hitting contact surfaces. I just want to put this out there that it means that paint flecks are going into the environment. I know it’s not always possible to find a non-painted stainless steel container or you get sick of looking at just silver but just keep this in mind and find a quality item with quality coating if you want something colorful.
- I find a lot of the narrower necked reusable bottles end up in secondhand stores and recycling systems. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s hard to clean or what but please be aware. This goes with the bullet above, make sure you look at how you are going to clean the container before you purchase it.
End of Life: Whatever reusable option you choose to go with please put items in a recycling system when you are done or the item breaks and is unrepairable. Even if it’s plastic, allow the plastic contractors and recyclers to process that material to the extent they are able or to dispose of that properly and safely. In Austin, the Recycle & Reuse Drop-off Center had two stations for these types of items. Whatever material more of your container is, drop it in that station and the contractors will separate out the pieces. Or you can separate it yourself: metal bottle/body in the Scrap Metal and plastic lid in the Hard Plastic. Remember that items smaller than your palm will fall through the single-stream sorting streams that are how the recycling carts are sorted. There is a higher likelihood those small items will be captured in the bailing process if they are taken to the recycling center to be processed. I have separate buckets for small items and separate plastics from metals and just dump those items in the respective roll-off at the center.
I feel that I must talk about this issue and I won’t be as eloquent as I’d like on the topic. Even 4ocean bracelets are all made with recycled materials so it will come up. I think that we put too heavy of an emphasis or dependence on recycled items. I can’t tell you how many people send me links for shoes that are made of recycled plastic. I get it. Reuse is a good “R.” What troubles me is the fact that we keep producing new plastic and there is so much plastic in the world and our environment: our oceans, waterways, coastlines, parks and land, it’s just everywhere. The supply of plastic to reuse into something outweighs the demand for products in my opinion. I worry people justify using single use plastic items because it can be made into shoes or a jacket. Well how often does that bottle get properly recycled so that it ends up in that reuse process? Not a lot. If it did, there wouldn’t be so much plastic and garbage in the oceans and spilling out of landfills. So please keep that in mind. I think supporting businesses who are reusing, recycling and have take back programs for those items are great. It’s a super business model, a closed loop, cradle to grave business model which is what we need to be a zero waste society.
We also should keep in mind our actions produce those materials we have to find ways to reuse as well. For example right now I am drinking a Gatorade for a bowl prep and since I have no choice I have it. Otherwise we don’t really buy single-use plastic drink bottles. Sometimes there was a coconut water or cold-pressed juice. I think we are at a point where my son understands our impacts and we can avoid those in the future. I mention this since I know a lot of people that make single-use bottles their main way of hydrating. Back to the Gatorade, there is nothing on the label that says to recycle the plastic bottle with lid (I honestly do no understand why it is so hard to keep the lid with you and put it back on the bottle when you are done, sorry for another rant), if the plastic is new or recycled, etc. The #1 on the bottom is so tiny I can barely make it out and that’s just because I’m really trying as I write this. Normally I would make my own hydration solution at home for either at home or the gym and use my cup or my bottle, but I’m being careful and following the procedure instructions exactly. Being prepared, planning ahead, is one way we can cut down on purchasing single-use drinks when we are out and about. It used to be really easy to find Gatorade mix in a little plastic tub but now it’s almost impossible if they even still make it. The first ingredient on the bottle is water. Why can’t I mix powder with my own water? I used to do it all the time when I was younger. It doesn’t take that long. Honestly it took me longer to wrestle the bottle out of the plastic rings (which my son cut into smithereens so no animals could get caught if it somehow blew away – so proud) than it would have to mix powder into water.
Featured Image: I am a 4ocean Ambassador and I earn from qualifying purchases. I really do love the 4ocean reusable water bottles, as well as all their products. I completely support their mission to clean our oceans, rivers and coastlines and to use recycled and organic materials in their products. The funds from purchases pay the jewelry makers, clean up staff and boats, the entire operation. Each purchase funds at least one or more pounds of trash cleaned out of our water systems. I bought my first 4ocean reusable water bottle myself after my original other brand bottle rusted inside and I couldn’t get the rust off. I earned a second one as an ambassador. My husband totally commandeered my second one. We have dropped these so many times, take them to the park and pool, on litter walks, and they hold up so well. They are completely toddler proof and my 5 year can open it himself. If you are interested in a royal/ 4ocean blue, white, pink or patriotic/Texas (red, white and blue) colored reusable water bottle that is all stainless still inside including the lid (a lot of times stainless steel bottles come with plastic lined lids so be careful), you can use my link: https://bit.ly/3G6qGrN for 20% off your order with discount code: TAYLORYOUNGBLOOD20. I also highly recommend their hoodies. I bought this one I’m wearing in the featured image and I love it. The image was not planned. I seriously usually have this hoodie on and this water bottle with me all winter. The hoodie is organic, GOTS certified cotton, it’s long so it covers my butt, the hand pocket is great and the hood is a bit larger than normal so it can go over my slightly larger than average head. No complaints at all. It comes in black and the 4ocean blue.
#water #waterbottle #reusablewaterbottle #reuse #resuable #cup #bringyourown #lesslandfill #recycleless #nosingleuseplastic #recycle #outside #exercise #soccer @4ocean #4ocean
I know one of my tags above is #recycleless and you’ll also see me use #recyclemore. I want to clarify that I really do think about the tags I use. I want us to recycle more items we have that we don’t typically know can be recycled like broken appliances, scrap metal like worn out cooking pans, and food Styrofoam and that may end up in the landfill normally. Then there are avoidable choices like single-use items, we can choose to reduce that recycling stream by not purchasing those items in the first place if there are sustainable options like our own water and reusable containers. Make sense?
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