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do not reuse plastic water bottles

Why You Shouldn’t Refill Disposable Plastic Water Bottles

Plastic waste is a global problem. In the United States alone, millions of disposable plastic water bottles enter landfills. To counteract the growing plastic waste problem, many people refill their disposable water bottles, believing they are doing good for the environment. The reality, however, is much more complicated: reusing disposable plastic water bottles can pose a threat to human health. With a reverse osmosis water filtration system and a suitable container, it is possible to both protect the environment and to preserve the health of yourself and your family. In this guide, we will show you how.

Plastic Waste: Alarming Statistics

Disposable plastic beverage bottles are convenient and portable, but those may be their only benefits. According to several studies compiled by industrial plastic waste research groups, the statistics related to disposable water bottles are alarming. Consider:

  • On average, 50 billion disposable plastic water bottles are used in the United States each year. This equates to about 310 bottles per person, per year.
  • Of those 50 billion bottles, only about 9% are recycled.
  • 17 million barrels of oil are needed to produce disposable plastic water bottles.

Each year, the number of plastic water bottles entering landfills grows. These bottles can take hundreds of years to break down, representing a long-term environmental impact that will still be with us for generations to come.

Chemicals in Common Plastics

As if the negative environmental impacts of disposable plastic bottles were not enough, research has shown that common plastics used in bottle manufacturing may leach harmful chemicals, potentially putting your health at risk. Reusing these bottles only compounds the risks.

Plastics made from #1 (Polyethylene terephthalate-PET), #3 (Polyvinyl chloride-PVC), and #7 plastics (polycarbonates and acrylics) may release two potentially dangerous chemicals:

  • Bisphenol A (BPA) – a component of the plastic manufacturing process.
  • Di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) – a plastic softening agent used in disposable bottle manufacturing.

The risk of these chemicals cannot be overstated, especially as the plastic bottle degrades due to cracking, heat, sunlight exposure, and repeated use. BPA has been implicated in disruptions of the human endocrine system, which may negatively affect reproductive and nervous system health. There may be links between BPA and the development of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure. 

DEHP, one of the compounds in a class of chemicals known as phthalates, can be harmful to health as well. Phthalates are found in thousands of products, including disposable bottles, and as such represent a serious concern to medical researchers. Studies have shown a correlation between DEHP exposure and defects in male reproductive organ development, a higher rate of certain cancers, and interference with healthy fetal development in pregnant women. Although the federal government has imposed limits on the amount of DEHP that can be incorporated into consumer goods, the small amounts leached out over time can be harmful.

The Dangers of Microplastics

It is important to note that plastic bottles can be made of many types of plastics. Some of these plastics, particularly #2 (high-density polyethylene-HDPE) and #4 (low-density polyethylene-LDPE) are generally considered safe and durable. As plastics age, however, they may leach chemicals, especially if exposed to heat and sunlight. It is unknown if these leached chemicals can cause negative health effects. 

microplastics

Chemicals are not the only concern when reusing disposable bottles. Plastic bottles subjected to heavy use may crack or shed “microplastics”, tiny plastic particles that have the potential to be dangerous. Although research into the effects of microplastic exposure is still ongoing, preliminary studies suggest these particles may contribute to cell toxicity, the development of certain cancers, metabolic disturbances, and inflammation of the digestive tract. 

Breaking the Cycle: Safe Drink Bottle Alternatives and Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration

As a safer alternative, health professionals recommend using non-plastic drink bottles and refilling them to reduce waste production. Safe reusable bottles are made from:

  • Stainless steel
  • Food-safe titanium
  • Glass
  • Ceramic
stainless steel water bottle alternative to plastic

These bottles can be refilled time and again from your reverse osmosis water filtration system. Osmosis is a natural cellular process where solutions move through cell walls from areas of low concentration to those of higher concentrations to create equilibrium. Reverse osmosis is a mechanical process where water supplies are passed under pressure through a semipermeable membrane. The membrane has tiny pores small enough to trap a wide range of contaminants; as water passes through, the contaminants are left behind. Whole-home systems provide enough purified water for everyday use – such as for drinking, cooking, and bathing. 

A reverse osmosis water filtration system is often equipped with additional filtration stages. These stages remove contaminants as well as improve water clarity, odor, and flavor. These systems are installed between the home water supply and the plumbing fixtures or faucets. Simply grab your non-plastic reusable bottle and refill as needed. With a reverse osmosis water filtration system and a safe bottle, you can keep plastic waste out of the environment and protect your family from dangerous chemicals that can affect their health.  

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