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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 March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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