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3 Alarming Facts You Need to Know Before Reusing Water Bottles

3 Alarming Facts You Need to Know Before Reusing Water Bottles

We all use water bottles on a relatively consistent basis, whether we want to or not. They are everywhere — at the market, in fast food establishments, and in our cupboards. Often, in the name of environmentalism, we opt to re-use our water bottles, even if they are of the disposable variety.

The question is, can re-using our water bottles in this way be negatively affecting our health? In some cases, the answer is yes. There are three crucial things that you should know about before refilling your empty bottle with some good old H2O, so hang on to your Brita filters — let’s jump right in.

1. Bacteria can thrive in water bottles.

While you should be OK if you use a disposable water bottle only once (as is intended), you are pushing your luck if you decide to use it again. Indeed, studies have shown that with prolonged usage, disposable bottles acquire scratches and cracks that can harbor nasty types of bacteria. It is not unlike your cutting board, which must be cleaned very thoroughly in order to ensure that all of the bacteria hiding in its gouges are eliminated.

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Cleaning out your disposable water bottles cuts down on some of the risk, especially if you use warm soapy water. Still, even that presents a problem, as cleaning those kinds of bottles might damage them further (since they were not designed with re-usability in mind).

It is also important to remember that the bacteria inside of your water bottles gets there via your mouth. So if you do not wash them out, days and days worth of bacteria collects inside of them, turning your bottle into something not unlike a laboratory petri dish. One study from the University of Calgary found that a group of elementary student’s water bottles — which had been re-used several times over without being washed — contained levels of bacteria that went far above what is recommended to be present in your drinking water. This in part had to do with the fact that these bottles sat in room temperature for most of the day, which gave the bacteria present within the bottles the perfect conditions necessary to grow and multiply.

Even specialized re-usable water bottles, such as those made by Nalgene and other companies, aren’t entirely safe. They too can acquire scratches that harbor bacteria, and will become just as contaminated with microbial life as disposable water bottles if they aren’t cared for properly.

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Your best defense against bacteria would be to use disposable water bottles only once, since they are exceedingly difficult to clean thanks to their narrow mouths. If you use a re-usable bottle, try and get one that is wide-mouthed so that you can more easily clean its insides, and be sure to give it a good wash every day if possible. And lastly, make sure to wash your hands on a regular basis, as all of the bacteria present on them will most definitely come into contact with your bottle at some point.

2. Cleaning water bottles may lead to chemical leakage.

I stated above that you should use warm water and soap when washing your bottles for a reason — using scalding or boiling water to sterilize your bottle is not recommended. Especially if you are re-using a disposable bottle. One professor stated that cleaning your disposable bottles with boiling water (or in the dishwasher) is a recipe for disaster, as the plastic used in them was not designed to be heated in that manner. When it is, there is a chance that dangerous chemicals might seep out of the plastic and leech into whatever liquids you put into them.

Re-usable plastic bottles are made with a hardier variety of plastic, and should be able to stand up to boiling water better than your standard disposable bottle. That said, there is no way to completely remove all risk when using plastic products. The best defense against chemicals leakage in your drinking water is to use glass or stainless steel bottles, which may be more expensive. Even then, you need to ensure that you wash and dry them sufficiently, lest they fall prey to the bacterial issues I talked about above.

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3. Most of a water bottle’s bacteria exists where you put your mouth.

So I have told you that water bottles provide bacteria with a near-perfect ecosystem, and have informed you about how you also have to be careful in regard to how you wash your bottles. But what you probably want to know is “what part of the bottle poses to greatest risk to me?” The answer is: the part where you put your mouth.

Not only is that because your mouth contains bacteria, which then transfers to the bottle, but it’s also because the ridges meant to align with those screw-on caps are the perfect breeding area for microbes. Sure, they can live in the tiny scratches inside of disposable bottles, but their main habitat, so to speak, will be right at the top.

Indeed, one study highlighted this fact. They asked a group of brave test subjects to re-use the same water bottle over the course of a week, and were instructed to not wash them. At the end of the week, scientists took a swab and brushed it against the ridged neck portion of the bottles (basically, the part that goes in your mouth). What they found was disturbing, to say the least. When they cultured the bacteria picked up with the swab, they found that it was of the same variety as those known to cause the worst kinds of food poisoning. And most disturbing of all was that there was a lot of it.

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Had those test subjects kept on using those same bottles, it is very likely that they would have eventually come down with some sort of illness. The only way to prevent this kind of bacteria from growing on and within your bottle is to diligently wash it (if it is a re-usable bottle, that is). If it is a disposable bottle, do as the name suggests and dispose of it after one use. Either way, the lids/tops of water bottles will always carry the most bacteria (because in all cases either your hands or your mouth is in contact with them). If you are truly worried, you can always just pour the water into your mouth without making any direct contact with the bottle (otherwise known as a “waterfall’), which might be worth it despite requiring some extra coordination on your end.

Are you a fan of re-using disposable water bottles? Let me know if this article changed your mind about that. If you use re-usable water bottles, did any of this surprise you? Will it change how you go about washing your bottle? Comment below!

Featured photo credit: water/stvcr via flic.kr

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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