It's not uncommon to see folks at the gym chugging water from a plastic bottle, and they may even refill the bottle at the fountain. Saving a few bucks here and there is a plus any day. Many schools are now allowing students to bring water bottles to school. It's seemingly safer, keeps kids hydrated, and saves time in the classroom. Many have fears of bacteria swimming in water fountains, and having water on hand is convenient, so toting around a water bottle is more common than ever. The toll the plastic water bottles place on the environment is astonishing. In fact, The Container Recycling Institute reports an estimated 67 million plastic water bottles are tossed every day, enough to wrap around the earth 149 times in just one year. If that's not alarming enough, it takes upwards of 2 million barrels of oil to produce this tall order. A popular eco-friendly, cost-saving alternative to the plastic water bottle is a reusable stainless steel water bottle. But, does being “green” always mean being clean?
While a stainless steel water bottle is more durable than a plastic bottle, and can tolerate the heat of a dishwasher, this truth does not issue an automatic ticket to Cleanville. In fact, studies show that bacteria and fungi grow inside reusable water bottles like a living petri dish. Where do the germs come from? Simply put—your backwash. Your saliva contains bacteria and viruses. Saliva also acts as a breeding ground for harmful organisms, according to The University of Nebraska Medical Center. And, no matter how careful you are, if you're putting your mouth to the opening of the bottle to drink, there is always going to be a small amount of water that backwashes into the bottle, backwash mixed with saliva.
The good news to combat this dirty little secret is that there are simple solutions to be clean and
“green.” First, choose a water bottle that is dishwasher safe, allowing for the bottle to be washed in a high heat setting. You can also hand-wash the bottle with hot water, soap or vinegar, and a clean bottle brush. An important tip is to choose a water bottle with a wide neck. This will allow for easier access to a thorough cleaning. Bacteria and fungi thrive in wet, dark places, so it's important to get in all those nooks and crannies.
Here's to enjoying the convenience of water on the go, and being clean and green!