Reusable Water Bottles: A Complete Guide

Fact checked by Megan Soliman MD, MSc
Board-certified internal medicine physician

As more people become aware of the pollution crisis and the amount of waste they produce, many are making environmentally-conscious changes to their daily lives. If your goal is to cut down on single-use plastic, switching to a reusable water bottle may be the obvious choice. But how to choose the right one?

Continue reading to find out more about the different types of reusable water bottles and their benefits — for your health and the planet.

Are reusable water bottles better for the environment?

One of the main reasons reusable water bottles grow in popularity is the fact that they’re environmentally friendly. Think of how much plastic waste you can save if you switch to using a refillable bottle instead of a disposable one!

Let’s take a look at how reusable water bottles benefit the environment.

  • They reduce plastic waste. On average, every person in the U.S. buys 13 plastic bottles per month. If you switch to a reusable bottle, you can save about 156 plastic bottles a year. And most refillable bottles can serve you for at least a year or even more, depending on the material and how well you care for them. So in the long run it can reduce plastic waste by quite a lot.
  • They need less oil to produce. According to the Pacific Institute, just in 2006, it took about 17 million barrels of oil to produce the plastic bottles consumed in the United States. By opting for a refillable bottle you can help save non-renewable resources, especially if you choose a bottle made of glass or stainless steel.
  • They reduce carbon footprint. Since reusable bottles need less oil to produce than single-use plastic bottles, less carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere as a result. Which is good news when it comes to climate change and overall pollution.
  • They are less likely to end up in a landfill. Whereas most people don’t think twice about throwing an empty plastic bottle in a bin, they are more likely to dispose of a reusable bottle properly. Depending on the material they’re made of, reusable bottles can be fully recycled, without packing landfills and polluting the ocean.

Of course, plastic bottles are fine if you’re in a pinch. But next time you’re about to buy a pack of bottled water in a supermarket, consider getting a refillable bottle instead. It’s better for the environment, can save you money in the long run, and simply looks much cooler.

A woman with a stainless steel reusable water bottle on a hike

Health benefits of refillable water bottles

Everyone’s talking about how important it is to stay hydrated, and rightfully so. Your body needs water to:

​​Of course, using a refillable water bottle won’t solve all your health concerns, but it may encourage you to drink more throughout the day, which is the first step to improving your well-being.

Keep it on your desk or anywhere within sight to remind you to take a sip of water whenever you catch a glance at it.

Additionally, when using a refillable bottle, you avoid potentially harmful chemicals that can be found in single-use plastic bottles. Plus, you help reduce plastic waste, which always feels good.

How to choose a reusable water bottle

With a great variety of reusable water bottles on the market, choosing the best one for you may not be an easy task. There are several factors to consider other than the cute color and design. Taking into account your lifestyle and where and what you will be using the bottle for may help you narrow it down.

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If you plan to take your reusable water bottle to the gym, it’s best to get something durable, that has a good grip, and a sipper lid. The same is fair if you travel a lot or go on hikes, except in this case you may want to consider a bottle that is also well insulated, leak-proof, and keeps your drink at a desirable temperature.

If you plan to mainly use your water bottle at home, you can go for a larger size and more aesthetically pleasing material like glass — after all, you don’t need to worry about carrying a heavy glass bottle in your bag and risk breaking it. Also, a glass bottle will look chic on your table.

3 Most popular types of reusable water bottles

One of the main things you need to think about when choosing a refillable water bottle is the material it’s made of. Let’s look at some of the most popular types of reusable water bottles.

Plastic water bottles

Reusable plastic water bottles are one of the most affordable and lightweight options. They come in a great variety of shapes, sizes, and colors, and you're sure to find something that fits your needs and taste. They can be pretty durable too, although it depends on how thick the plastic is. In general, plastic bottles scratch over time, which makes them look less sleek. Not to mention, scratches can trap bacteria and are more difficult to clean.

From an environmental point of view, reusable plastic bottles are not a great choice.

Even though they are recyclable, most of them don’t get disposed of properly and end up in landfills. Also, plastic bottles require oil to create and contain BPA or BPS, two harmful chemicals used in the creation process. So they may be unsafe to use, especially if you want to pour hot beverages in them. Hot water makes it easy for toxins from plastic to leach into the drink, infusing it with unwanted byproducts.

Of course, reusable plastic bottles are convenient — they are light to carry around and since they’re usually quite cheap you don’t have to be that precious with them. To be safe, make sure that the plastic bottle you choose doesn’t contain BPA and avoid using it for anything hot. Consider getting a new bottle when your old one gets beaten up and scratched.

A reusable water bottle made of glass on a work desk

Glass water bottles

Glass is probably the best material to store food and beverages in. It’s safe to use, easy to clean and doesn’t change the taste of whatever is inside. Also, glass water bottles are recyclable and can be used for both hot and cold beverages. Sounds great, right? So what’s the catch?

With everything great about glass water bottles, they have one big drawback — they are fragile, so you need to be very careful with them when you’re traveling or commuting, or just walking around. One awkward move — and it can shatter. Condensation can also be an issue, which makes the bottle slippery and more prone to accidental drops.

Stainless steel water bottles

If you’re looking for something more sturdy that you don’t need to worry about too much, a stainless steel water bottle is the one for you. You can have it for years without needing to replace it, and when you’re ready for a change, you can easily recycle it.

Stainless steel bottles are safe to use, since the metal doesn’t leach any chemicals into your drink, and is easy to clean. They come in a wide variety of sizes and colors, are pretty lightweight, and don’t add a metallic taste to the water, despite what people often think. In general, stainless steel bottles are your best choice in terms of being clean and durable, but they are often the most expensive option too.

Infographic on how to choose a reusable water bottles — pros and cons

Wrapping up

Сhoosing a reusable water bottle that’s right for you can be a bit overwhelming — there are just so many options! If you’re on the lookout for the perfect refillable water bottle, the first thing you need to do is decide where you’re going to use it. Do you need something that can serve you through thick and thin? Or do you plan to keep it on your desk at home?

Depending on your needs, look into the material it’s made of — plastic, glass, and stainless steel are the most popular options. Stainless steel bottles are your best choice when it comes to durability, practicality, and safety. But at the end of the day, opt for something that fits your lifestyle and inspires you to drink water throughout the day!

January 30, 2023