Monday, December 9, 2013

How many water bottles do we need, really?

Lots of water bottles are out there in the world.
Not only in the bicycle industry, but, well, everywhere.

These will be handed out at a convention later this week. And millions -- not thousands, but millions more -- will be given away at events, contests, fundraisers and all sorts of gatherings in just the next few months around the world. Every single bottle will eventually be lost, tossed, given away and/or re-gifted somewhere. I'd be willing to bet money that more than half of these bottles -- and I'd guess there are hundreds of them in this room -- will eventually end up in a box headed to Goodwill or to a landfill within a year of being received by the event's participants.

Thinking back to my post about the very expensive "vintage" Rivendell Bottles being offered on eBay, I can't help but ponder just how silly this seems to me -- and how terribly wasteful.
I have a handful of plastic water bootlegs left over from my hers in the bicycle industry. The newest is about a year and a half old.

When I reach for a water bottle, nine times out of ten it's a stainless steel number by Klean Kanteen. (Other companies make such bottles, and all seem fine, though be sure the plastic cap is BPA-free before you buy one). Washable and very durable -- one of my bottles survived a fall down a ravine in Grand Canyon National Park last summer -- they are simply the best way I've found to carry water with me anywhere I go. The tops usually come with a loop so you can hook them on a bag or belt and then you're less likely to lose the bottle. And as long as you empty them beforehand, they are allowed to be brought aboard an airplane (where the flight attendant will cheerfully let you refill it with water).

So why are so many plastic bottles continuing to be made and offered everywhere in the developed world? The truth is, we don't need them. There are a zillion other things people could get at gatherings that would be far more useful and meaningful than Yet Another Plastic Water Bottle. Think about that next time to participate in a bicycle event and you're offered one. When it happens to me, I politely refuse, and when I get home I write a letter to the event organizers asking them to reconsider why they offer in their goody bags next time.

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