With about 38 billion single-use water bottles added to our landfills annually, it's no wonder that many towns and universities are moving to ban their sale. Whatever your local laws on the matter, purchasing reusable beverage bottles offers many advantages – healthier materials, convenient shapes, and some really cool special features. What should you look for? Here's a guide.
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Plastic is the cheapest, lightest weight material for reusable water bottles. In 2010, the FDA identified BPA (Bisphenol A) as hazardous to human health. Nowadays, most plastic bottles are marketed as BPA-free, but BPA content is not yet regulated and this type of bottle can still leach chemicals. Don’t use plastic for hot beverages or heat it in the microwave. Dishwasher safety is limited.
Glass bottles are healthy, green, and reasonably priced, with the additional advantages of no flavor transfer, easy cleaning (they're dishwasher safe), and ready visibility of the level of liquid. While glass is breakable, most water bottles come complete with their own protective silicone jacket. The weight of this material makes glass bottles great for taking to work or the gym, but not so much when you are running or climbing.
Aluminum is fairly inexpensive, rustproof, and very lightweight. Because it's reactive with acids, though, it must be lined with an enamel or epoxy coating, which may leach BPA and will eventually wear down. Aluminum requires hand washing.
Bottles made of stainless steel are lightweight and non-reactive, and may be sanitized in the dishwasher. Drawbacks are stainless's relatively high price tag and its susceptibility to denting.
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The traditional round shape with a narrow neck can be difficult to clean thoroughly, unless you want to go to the trouble of scrubbing it with a bottle brush. Opt for a wide-mouth version to simplify pouring as well as cleaning.
Square bottles are a refreshing change of pace, but you do have to make sure your cleaning method will reach into all the corners. A detachable bottom makes this easier.
The new V-shaped bottles are built to comfortably accommodate every size of hand.
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If you are in the middle of a marathon, you'll appreciate a no-hands drinking bottle that attaches to your arm with sturdy straps.
For hyper-focused cross trainers, there's a bottle which computes your hydration level and lets you know when to fill up with fluid.
When you're carrying all your possessions on your back, a collapsible, foldable water bottle that takes up a minimum of space is ideal.
Enjoy a day of skiing in the Colorado Rockies in comfort with a double-layer or vacuum insulated bottle. Tote along a warm beverage for your own personal heating system.
Hikers can refill at any nearby stream with a bottle which contains a built-in filter. It not only gets rid of impurities, but also improves your water's taste.
Couch or car potato-ing
Those of us with less active lifestyles will be satisfied with a water bottle that is designed to fit into a standard cup holder.
Cool special features
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No more boring old bottles – nowadays you can choose from shades of purple, black, red, or orange, or go exotic with lime, green apple, fuchsia, aqua or smoke.
Infuser tube (with optional ingredient grinder cup)
Produce your own gourmet flavored water by adding your choice of fruits, veggies, and/or herbs via the removable central tube.
Transform your water bottle into an electricity-free mini-blender, which lets you turn out single-serve smoothies and protein shakes on the spot.
Here's just what your inner child has always wanted: a glow-in-the-dark beverage bottle.
Coolest of all, many water bottle manufacturers will donate a portion of the purchase price to charity.
Related on MNN:
- How to reuse water bottles
- 5 water bottles to bring along into the great outdoors
- Is your water filter the right one for your water tap?