05 February 2009

On Re-Usable Water Bottles

In the past, I would buy a six-pack of a conveniently sized brand of disposable water bottles, use the bottles either until they wore out or until I got sick, and then recycle them and get new ones. I'd keep the bottle tops and boil them before reusing them, so that at least the mouthpiece would always be clean. But I finally noticed something when this semester began. I was feeling just fine the week before. Through the first week of classes, I gradually got to feeling worse and worse. And I realized that this always happened when classes started; it wasn't just a one-time thing that I happened to catch a cold the first week. I always felt rotten once classes started back up, and I didn't think it was psychosomatic. I'd been getting a bit stir-crazy, in fact, and was somewhat relieved that it was time to go back to work.

So, the only thing I could think of that I knew had changed, besides classes starting up, was that I had begun drinking out of those old, intended-for-one-use, water bottles. I wasn't sure that was the problem, but it seemed like a plausible candidate. On Thursday of the second week of classes, I stopped over at Ace Hardware (which has an extensive collection of hiking/fishing/hunting gear, as well as the more usual hardware) and picked out two Camelbak water bottles, much like this one, and started using them instead. Within two days, I was feeling much better.

I picked the Camelbak bottles because they had a wide enough mouth to be washable, they were labeled BPA-free, and they had a mouthpiece that could be used without unscrewing anything. I expected to find them tolerable, and miss the disposable bottles I was used to. Nope. I like them much better. Besides allowing them to be washed, the wider mouths mean that I can put ice cubes into the bottles, and actually have cold water for more than just my first class. Plus I can refill them with ice and water at any drink kiosk, so I don't have to take as many water bottles to get me through a day. In the long run, they should also save me money, not to mention reduce my plastic consumption. Even though I recycled the other bottles, it still seemed like a waste.

So, strangely, bottles-intended-for-one-use don't work so well when used repeatedly over a long period of time. Now, if there were a way to get in and wash them, they'd probably be okay... as is, I think I'll stick with these that are intended to be re-used.

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