With most of us attempting to get our daily dose of exercise and required amount of water, the water bottle has become a permanent part of our person. Easy to grab but not so easy on the environment the controversy over plastic water bottles has most of us thinking of a more eco-friendly way to always have water by our side. Are the screams of the environmental evil of plastic water bottles valid and is there truth in the push for using a stainless steel water bottle as its replacement? Armed with some facts I‘m sure you’ll make the right decision.
Plastic Bottle Environmental Issues
In the US more than a million barrels of oil are used yearly to produce plastic water bottles. This is enough oil to power 250,000 homes or fuel 100,000 cars. Americans consume over 70 million bottles of water daily or 22 billon dollars in plastic water bottles yearly. In addition to the vast number of bottles produced each year, the energy required to manufacture and transport them drains fossil fuel supplies posing a significant strain on our environment.
With only 17% of the plastic water bottles purchased being recycled our landfills are swelling to enormous sizes. Having a very low redemption value the recycling rates for plastic water bottles is alarmingly lower than soda or beer bottles. Many Americans still are not part of a recycling plan and many public places and parks do not provide separate recycling bins allowing plastic water bottles to find their way into landfills or worse into forests and waterways. And they are not bio-degradable.
Plastic Bottle Health Issues
Many consumers argue that reusing their plastic bottle defrays some of the negative environmental effects. But actually there are concerns with reusing plastic bottles. Each reuse of the bottle compromises the water quality as more and more phthalates from the plastic leach into the water. Plastic bottles need to be kept out of extreme heat for the same reason. It is argued too that the bottle can never be washed thoroughly enough to discount formation of bacteria. Many companies have stopped the sale of hard plastic bottles due to concerns with even low doses of Bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA is capable of altering the normal functioning of genes which could lead to prostate cancer, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and neuro-behavioral problems.
Stainless Steel Bottle Environmental Issues
Stainless steel is a highly stain resistant metal alloy containing more than 50% Iron. Pure iron in a natural state is highly corrosive. Added chromium works with oxygen and protects the iron against corrosion by creating a film barrier impenetrable to water and air hence making the stainless rust resistant. Just by its nature alone, stainless steel is considered an environmentally green material.
The production of stainless steel leaves a very low carbon footprint. While natural resources and energy are used in its production, technological improvements and energy conservation measures have decreased the amounts used in stainless steel production.
Stainless steel is a long life material and is 100% recyclable. The relatively high value of stainless steel scrap assures that the bulk of discarded items do not make it to a landfill as they are quickly re-melted for reuse, new stainless steel objects being comprised of about 60% of recycled material rendering stainless eco-friendly. The solid product does not easily migrate into soil or groundwater and easy maintenance properties of stainless steel eliminate the use of harsh cleansers avoiding chemicals from being washed down the drain.
It must be noted that under certain processing conditions such as burning, melting, cutting, sawing or grinding finely divided particles of stainless steel can be emitted as airborne contaminants finding way into soil and groundwater. In the US, stainless steel production makes use of substantial pollution control technology.
Stainless Steel Bottle Health Issues
Considered very hygienic, stainless steel has no surface pores to capture dirt or bacteria. These properties allow it to be cleaned without the use of abrasive or harsh chemicals and safely reused. Stainless steel is stable at all temperatures. There are no known concerns with leaching although acidy or salty foods should not be left in a stainless container as they could pit the surface.
The natural elements in stainless steel pose no health concerns. Iron can be very beneficial and is a mineral that is required in a healthy diet. In small quantities chromium is also beneficial to us. With some forms of stainless nickel is added to raise the resistance to corrosion. Trace amounts of nickel are not detrimental to our health, but people who are allergic to nickel should avoid using stainless steel.
Plastic water bottles may have their place in situations where it is impractical to carry a reusable bottle. However, with all facts considered they are very harmful to the environment and potentially present some health concerns. With a low carbon footprint, high recycle reuse rate and hygienic properties, I am sure you will agree that using a stainless steel water bottle is the better choice for your health and for the environment.