01 Oct A Closer Look at Reusable Water Bottles
By Kimberly Visioni, MS, Contributing Blogger
You’ve probably noticed the ubiquity of reusable water bottles – at the gym, at work, stuffed into the sides of backpacks – they’re everywhere. There’s no longer a need to trek to the sporting goods store to find one – these water bottles now take up whole aisles in your local grocery stores. While choosing a size, shape, color, brand and material among the multitude of options can be daunting, it’s really the health concerns surrounding BPA that had me questioning which type of bottle to buy when I needed to replace my old one.
What Is BPA Again?
A lot of consumers have been steering clear of Bisphenol A (BPA) for years now. That’s because it’s a chemical used in the production of polycarbonate plastics that can leach into our food and beverages. These plastics are the hard and clear ones used to make food packaging, like single-use water bottles. Animal studies have shown that exposure to BPA may negatively impact human development and reproductive systems, particularly the brain, behavior and prostate glands of fetuses, infants, and children. What most people don’t know is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) completed a four-year review of the scientific research last year and continues to support the safety of BPA in food containers and packaging. FDA experts indicate that the very small amounts that we are exposed to through our diet are not unsafe.
What Are My Options?
Despite the FDA’s assessment, many of us still want to play it safe. Given consumer demand, many companies have removed BPA from the manufacturing of their plastic products. So, here’s a breakdown of the different BPA-free materials and some good brands for reusable water bottles.
When checking out a new water bottle for your workout, make sure to look for the recycle code on the bottom of plastic bottles. A #3 or #7 indicates that the container may be made of a BPA-containing plastic.
- Usually less expensive than stainless steel and glass
- Lightweight – easier for your little ones to carry around. Camelbak makes a great kids line.
- Many come as squeeze bottles, which are great for athletes. Check out Polar Bottle (I love the 24oz insulated one for my road bike and used it during many triathlons!)
- There is still debate over exposure to plastic toxins other than BPA
- Usually not safe for hot liquids – heat makes chemicals from plastic leach into the contents of the bottle
- Tends to wear out faster than stainless steel and glass
Be sure to look for bottles labeled with #304 or 18/8 (18% chromium and 8% nickel), which indicates they are made from food-grade stainless steel.
- Durable and less prone to wear over time than plastic and glass
- Easy to clean
- Some bottles come insulated and can be used for both hot and cold beverages. Check out Klean Kanteen or S’well (Once I knew it could hold my morning coffee, I was sold!)
- More expensive and heavier than plastic
- May dent if dropped
- Beware of brands that can taste like metal
Many people believe glass is the safest option. Glass water bottles are recyclable and made from natural ingredients. Most are double-walled and made from BPA-free polycarbonate glass, which is very durable.
- Durable and cleans easily in the dishwasher
- No fear of any mysterious chemicals leaching
- Maintains the purest taste
- Heavier than plastic and stainless steel
- Obviously more breakable, especially for kids! (Many companies offer a silicone sleeve for a better grip and to prevent breakage. Check out bkr or Lifefactory
- Fewer choices when it comes to shape, size and colors
Regardless of which type you decide to buy, all of the options above are safe, functional and chic. Reusable water bottles are great eco-friendly investments that can help you get on track to drinking water throughout the day instead of buying sugar-laden sodas and juices. So, if you haven’t already done so, start refilling while you save the environment and slim down. What’s better than that?
Kim has a Master’s of Science in Nutrition Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and just recently passed the registered dietitian exam. She plans to start a private practice as an RD to share her passion for clean eating and an active lifestyle. You can find her via LinkedIn.