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Uno Dos of Trace: Are Reusable Water Bottles Actually Bad for Us?

6 minutes

We millennials are trying to be greener by lugging these reusable water bottles everywhere, but they've peaked. And now brands are tossing these bottles free to everyone all the time. How many of these do you have? I think reusable bottles might be bad for the environment, and I have questions. Three, two, one, questions. I get these bottles from conferences, residents life departments, universities, vacations, hotels, street festivals, bachelorette parties, they're everywhere. What are we doing? How is this sustainable? Green? Good for the environment? Hang on. We're using these to replace disposable plastic, which is a good thing. But if you give something away everywhere for free, then it's not valued and it becomes disposable. This Sigg bottle is made of aluminum. 100% recyclable, right? Sure. But this bottle wasn't made of recycled material. Swiss law says it has to be virgin aluminum, meaning you have to mine the bauxite from tropical and subtropical regions, use massive amounts of energy to create molten cryolite, and extract the aluminum with electrodes. Then, they can make that into the bottle. This process requires a lot of energy. An MIT study found that creating a ton of virgin aluminum is so energy intensive it would probably be better to just keep making things out of steel.

And speaking of steel, [METAL CLANGING]

the S'well bottle is made of stainless steel, created by a very energy intensive process using iron ore, nickel, and chromium, all of which need to be mined from the earth. Stainless steel can be recycled, but maybe not in your town. You might have to find a place that you could go take it. And are you going to do that? If you don't, they go in a landfill forever. Look, reusable bottles, they cost more than you think even when they're free. If you've used them enough times they're worthwhile, because they offset the amount of carbon it takes to make them versus the disposable plastic bottles. Some of these are even recyclable depending on where you live. That said, most plastic bottles are not reusable. Hang on, come with me for a second. Bottles. There are a lot of plastics in the world. Consider your fridge. Most of these are not reusable. Condiments are bottled in plastic #1, PET. If reused, it can leach antimony and grow bacteria. Milk comes in PVC, plastic #3, reusing these jugs can leach phthalates and cause reproductive damage. One time use picnic and wine glasses are #6, polystyrene. They leach styrene, which ironically can cause liver damage. Strangely, plastic #7 though is a catch all. Reusable bottles are #7, but so are non reusable water bottles, and some leach BPA which is linked to cancer. Which is why it's always better to stick to the ones designed to be cleaned and used again. So here's the deal. We all get that bottled water isn't the best, right? It's convenience. And convenience isn't the problem, and neither is the water inside the bottle. We actually should drink water, it's important. But the plastic, the one time use plastic, that's the problem. Because when we make new plastic, that plastic doesn't go away. It will last forever. It will last longer than your life, your kid's life, it basically will last forever. And we're using it one time. So don't reuse non reusable bottles. I know it's tempting, but they are trash, that is their purpose and that's why we should stop using them. But there are other bottles that make you feel good, but they might not actually feel good for Mama Earth. The reusable water bottle market is set to hit 10 and 1/2 billion dollars by 2025. And I'm guilty of buying reusable, cheap, plastic things for one time use, and I'm sure you are too. But here's the deal. If you run an organization or event, don't give away free plastic stuff, especially not water bottles. You're giving away a thing that's only good if it's reused, and you're doing it as if it's a disposable product. When companies give these away to project sustainability and caring, that's frankly-- earmuffs kids, earmuffs-- bull [MUTED].. Getting reusable bottles might seem harmless, especially if you recycle. But not creating the bottles in the first place is even better than recycling. Remember reduce and reuse? It's not capitalism friendly, but it's part of the triangle. It's also way better than, get your free recyclable water bottle here. It's basically, hey, you want to throw this away from me later? If you want to buy a bottle, get recycled aluminum or glass, which is heavier to transport, but super recyclable. Quick sidebar, our Nerd Fam is pretty smart, so I probably don't have to say this, but most bottled water isn't even healthier or better for you. It's just tap water. My Trader Joe's water is from Los Angeles and Napa. Coca Cola's Dasani and Pepsi's Aquafina and Nestlé's Pure Life and Glacéau's Smartwater are all literally retreated local municipal tap water. To be honest, the best thing you can do is have a recycled aluminum bottle at work or at home or a glass jar, but avoid plastics. If you already have them, reuse them or recycle them. And don't reuse things that aren't supposed to be reused, no matter how good it makes you feel inside. Together, we can make a difference. Thank you, thank you so much for watching Nerd Fam. I really appreciate it. Do me a favor, before you go share this--

[BEEP]

OK look, so the problem isn't [BEEP].. OK look, [BEEP]. So the problem [BEEP]. OK so [BEEP]. The problem isn't [BEEP]. So [BEEP]. Time you needed a drink [CRASH] [BEEP].. I get these bottles from conferences [LAUGHS]..

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Are reusable water bottles better for the environment? Host Trace Dominquez explores the intensive manufacturing process of reusable bottles as well as their over production and how this impacts the environment. Part of the "Uno Dos of Trace" series. Please note this title contains potentially offensive language.

Media Details

Runtime: 6 minutes

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