Many of us are in the habit of using and reusing disposable water bottles for many reasons.  After all, it seems frivolous to use them once and throw them away to fill up an already overflowing landfill somewhere.  While we’re attempting to do our little part in helping the environment, are we unknowingly poisoning ourselves?  That depends on how you’re reusing them and where you look on the internet. 

I had heard about the bottles breaking down and leaching into the water after repeated use so in my attempt to be environmentally conscious, had been reusing only the higher density bottles for a few weeks then tossing them.  You see, I, like many consumers believed the following statements to be true.

The plastic used in water bottles called polyethylene terphthalate or PET contain a potentially carcinogenic element call diethylhydroxylamine.  This makes the bottles safe for only one use.  Repeated washing and rinsing can cause the plastic to break down and the carcinogens can leach into the water you are drinking.  It’s also not a good idea to leave them in your car and continue drinking from them when you get back in because heat speeds up the breakdown process as well. 

Some brands started using a lighter density plastic that breaks down more quickly to help with the problem of these bottles sitting in landfills so long.  These lighter density bottles are breaking down at an even quicker pace.  It’s recommended to not reuse any plastic water bottles, even the sports type refillable ones sold for reuse because of its’ eventual breakdown. 

To clear something up, some statements in the last two paragraphs are from various websites.  In fact, too many to list, and I’m not sure how true they are anymore, which is why I’m not linking them.  Various other sites claim that PET is safe and the whole breakdown theory is just a myth created by a student writing a thesis and had no scientific backing.  I’m not one to start or believe every conspiracy theory out there but it’s obvious that debunking the water bottle breakdown claims would benefit the large corporations making them. 

So while I don’t know which is true and still want to be environmentally conscious, I think the best way would be to start using refillable glass or aluminum bottles.  Obviously, aluminum bottles are more practical and durable for carrying around with you than the glass ones but are an alternative nonetheless. 

If you’re like me and refill your plastic bottles with filtered water from home rather than tap water, there is an aluminum option for you.  Some brands offer a bottle with a filter in it similar to home water filtration systems so you can fill up from anywhere and it’s filtered before you drink it. 

I no longer want to take the risk of my efforts to be “green” possibly being hazardous to my health.  I will definitely be making the switch!