Water Bottles: Trendy and Eco-Friendly?

Trends aren’t always affiliated with what you wear. The accessory known as the water bottle has made its way around campus in numerous forms: mainly metal, glass and plastic. From the ever-so-popular ‘camelback,’ to the rough and tough stainless steel, water bottles have served as a key accessory in many students’ daily lives. As the water bottle fashion statement continues to grow, the battle between the eco-friendly and trendy has been tested with these three bottles:

h3. Metal

These stainless steel water bottles are naturally free of BPA (a chemical found in plastic water bottles), lead and toxins, which could potentially be harmful to humans. And according to professor William Bullock of the School of Art and Design, stainless steel has no other chemicals that can leak into water.

Although metal water bottles are the most durable, and the rubber band around the rim of the bottle makes it virtually spill-proof, Bullock explains that it is not always easy to see what’s in the bottle. This means frequent cleaning is necessary.

Rhiannon Bettivia, graduate student, feels metal bottles give the water a ‘metallic taste’ — something not given off by plastic bottles.

h3. Glass

Glass bottles are dishwasher friendly and BPA free.

“Generally speaking durable objects are better,” said Dr. Deana McDonagh, associate professor of Industrial Design. “Polymer (plastic) bottles give off gases, and you can’t often reuse them. I am an advocate for glass because they are durable, longer lasting and you can use them more than once.”

The environmentally friendly nature of glass bottles is a definite plus, but the fact that glass is breakable makes this bottle less durable than metal and plastic, ranking it lower in popularity.

h3. Plastic

Plastic water bottles are recyclable, convenient and made at a low cost. Plastic is also synthetic, therefore it has many properties. Unlike glass and metal, plastic can be hard, soft, flexible, heat resistant or shatterproof. The various qualities of plastic have challenged companies to innovate the average water bottle, making this a competitive growing industry around the world.

The downside of plastic lies in the chemicals that remain present throughout the bottle. When left out in sunlight or heat for long periods of time, chemicals (such as BPA and lead) leak into the water, not only causing the water to taste unusual, but also posing harmful affects on people.

Aside from being health hazardous, Bullock touches on the lack of biodegradability of plastic.

“It doesn’t make sense to have a product that stays in the environment. After we use a water bottle for a period of time and throw it away, it stays in a landfill for over 500 years. There is something wrong with that picture,” he said.

There is no doubt that the diverse style of plastic water bottles has caused a trend to arise. The different colors, sizes and its claim to efficiency make the bottles unique and high in demand. These enticing features have attracted many students, inevitably making plastic water bottles the most favorable choice on campus. Although plastic water bottles continue to make an appearance on campus, this trendy item might not be as eco-friendly as it seems.