There are two weeks left in my water bottle challenge and I wanted to give you guys a little update on how it’s been going, the lessons I’ve learned so far, and how it’s changed my overall thinking. Although the challenge is technically ending at the end of the year, I plan to stick with it indefinitely.
How it’s going…
I have commitment issues and often promise myself and others I’ll do these grand things and make these grand changes, and then it kind of just fizzles out. But this time it feels really different. I’ve gone 51 days without buying a single plastic water bottle, which, in itself might not seem like a big deal, but it’s the start of something bigger for me. And that feels really good! What feels even better is knowing how many of you out there have done the same. I have been getting messages and emails and photos and videos from you guys, sharing your own water bottle challenges and how you’ve made smarter swaps along the way. The fact that a random idea I had turned into saving hundreds if not 1000s of plastic bottles from being consumed makes this challenge a success in my book.
On the road…
What I’ve found to be the most difficult part of this challenge is travel. Difficult isn’t the right word, I suppose. It’s very doable, you just have to do a lot more planning ahead. On road trips, we’ve been packing multiple bottles for all three of us (and the dog!) so we don’t have to buy a water bottle at a gas station halfway through the trip, which we always used to do. But being in a hotel over Thanksgiving threw us for a loop. The water at the hotel tasted terrible but I refused to buy water. Instead, I went down to the coffee shop downstairs twice a day and refilled our bottles for the whole family with their filtered water. They were really nice about it, especially after I explained why I was doing it. One of the baristas even said he’d join the challenge!
Earlier this week though, I received a press package from Brita that had this water bottle inside. The bottle has a filter in the middle that literally filters your water as you drink it. It reduces Chlorine which makes your tap water taste and smell bad. According to the note, each bottle can replace up to 300 single-use plastic bottles which is pretty impressive. It also just feels really good to drink from.
Larq also caught on to the challenge and sent over one of their self-cleaning bottles which I, of course, forgot to bring on our trip. If you haven’t heard of Larq yet, they’re bottles that clean your water in 60 seconds with the same type of UV light that hospitals use to clean operating rooms. The cleaning system kills bacteria in the bottle and the water, keeping your bottles odor-free and your water better-tasting. And according to their website, they’re 10,000x more hygienic than regular reusable water bottles.
Either of these bottles would have made it a lot easier while we were out of town!
At home, it’s much easier to stay on task. I always have my water bottle with me and fill it up every time I leave the house. We installed a reverse osmosis filter under our sink as a long-term solution to our terrible-tasting water because none of the tap filters fit on our tap and we don’t have enough room in the fridge for a Brita pitcher. Anel did the research and landed on this one so that we could get the safest, cleanest water possible in our home. We liked this particular one because it has an extra stage (an alkaline remineralization filter) which adds healthy minerals and makes your water more alkaline… so basically it’s like buying a fancy single-use bottle of Essentia every day. Without the single-use bottle!
A reader also shared an idea with me that we’ve been using at home. She bought a set of glass water bottles, fills them with filtered water, and keeps them in her fridge to always have cold water on hand. These bottles are thin and don’t take up a lot of room so I always keep two in our upstairs fridge and 4 extras in the basement fridge for when we have guests over. It’s kind of a silly thing to do when you can just drink from the tap but something about the sleek glass bottles makes drinking water feel chic and gets us all to drink even more.
What I’ve learned…
This challenge has taught me that it’s really easy to make small changes that can add up to make a bigger difference in the world. The ripple effect is a magnificent thing to watch. Seeing your reactions and excitement have been the best part!
Another lesson I’ve learned is that once I changed my behavior, my eyes were opened even more. Now I’m noticing other things I buy and do unnecessarily that can be swapped out.
For example, a reader gave me the idea to expand the challenge to coffee cups as well. I don’t drink coffee but I’ll often order matcha lattés as a treat for myself when I’m out and about. I bought a Stojo collapsible cup that I should theoretically keep in my purse at all times. I’m still working on that one because I’ll wash it and forget to put it back, but that habit is forming too. So if you’ve already been doing the water bottle challenge, I hope you’ll join me for this one too.
Expanding the challenge…
In early January, I’ll be announcing how I plan to expand it even further for 2020. I’m very excited for it!
If you’ve been doing the challenge too, let us all know how it’s going for you!
Photo by Julia Dags.
I was born in the early ’80s and up until the mid- to late-90s, I didn’t know what a plastic water bottle even was. No one bought single use plastic water bottles back then – at least no one that I knew. I don’t understand why it’s so difficult for people to give up buying plastic water bottles. For me, going without them is second nature. I can’t remember the last time I even bought one! I’ve always just drank tap water.
I commend you, though, because it’s obvious how much of an impact your initiative has already had. Good job!
Times have definitely changed! I think the airport liquid situation has definitely made a big difference and it’s just become easy to pick up a bottle of water everywhere and anywhere these days.
You’re right, times have definitely changed (which is a shame). I remember thermoses being very popular in the 80s and that’s what we all used for long car rides and airplane travel. If we were ever out and about, we stopped at public drinking fountains to quench our thirst. Not sure what happened to all those drinking fountains but it’s about time they were brought back (in parks, in shopping malls, in community centres, basically EVERYWHERE).
Love this! I saw the Larq bottle on your gift guide and ordered it! So excited to try it!
You’ll love it! It really never gets smelly either which is so cool.
So I’m pretty good about water bottles (although I have tried to be EVEN better since your post) but you inspired me to reduce ziplock bags. I am happy to report I have used less than 10 bags in the past MONTH. We had a huge party this past weekend and I didn’t use one bag for leftovers!! And most of the bags I did use were to freeze meat I bought in bulk in the hopes of reducing waste from single packaged meat.. Thanks for the inspiration<3
Wow that is impressive. I need to be better about ziplocks. We’re trying but I can’t seem to totally quit them!
Good for you! Let’s add “never use shopping bags again and only bring reusable bags to stores” to the 2020 list 🙂
Definitely! I am good on that one but often forget my reusable produce bags for some reason. I need to get in the habit.
Yes to keeping cold water in the fridge! This has helped me and the kids out so much in the past. I was noticing that I was constantly grabbing pop or a juice box because it’s self contained and it saved the step of grabbing a glass and filling it up (crazy lazy I know but it was happening!) Now, I have filled up several of the kids camelbacks or my own Nalgene or hydroflask with water and have them sitting ready to grab. Also, I put a tiny bit of flavoring in the kids water and they think it’s awesome. Aside from producing less waste I think it has been better for our health overall as well! Win win!
I should do that for Amalia’s water too, great idea!
While I love Earth and care about the beautiful environment we have, the thought of making changes has always overwhelmed me. Watching documentaries, hearing things on the news….it honestly just feels like we are screwed so why even try. Or solutions sound so drastic like getting rid of airplanes and cows.
BUT this challenge has totally changed my mindset and inspired me to make these totally doable changes! It has made me think about other little changes that we can do in our house that add up….like you’re reusable zip loc bag replacements, stop using paper/plastic plates, etc.
Thank you for bringing this topic up in a non-extreme way and for sharing what you are doing! Definitely makes the regular person (or at least me) feel like I can make small differences that add up!
I know exactly the feeling. It feels hopeless anytime I watch or read something new. But making these small changes is at least a place to start and there are power in numbers!
Love this challenge and that the barista joined too!
I’ve been travelling with my own water for many years (for health reasons as I filter out flouride, along with environmental reasons), and while it does take some adjustment and a little extra room in the car (or your suitcase for a travel filter), it is now just part of our routine.
I repurposed a case of glass mineral water bottles that we now fill with filtered water from home and bring on the road with us on a drivable getaway i.e. a couple of nights at a hotel or a long weekend somewhere.
Any brand will do – Evian, Perrier, Pellegrino, Gerolsteiner, Perrier etc. – anything you can buy in a case. Save the bottles, caps and box and reuse indefinitely. We refill into our individual water bottles as needed.
For air travel, we pack a GO Berkey travel filter in our suitcase and bring our stainless waterbottles. It makes any tap water taste great and you save a ton of money (and plastic) from not buying water.
I think commenter Vanessa hit the nail on the head about the way to think about sustainability – looking back in time to see how things used to be done before there were so many “convenience” items. Like she said, there were no plastic water bottles 50 years ago. You drank from the water fountain, your thermos you brought to school or work or from a glass.
Also, in addition to reducing plastic, the bottled water industry has issues with water contaminants and has fewer regulations than municipal water. Tap/municipal water is better regulated (though still concerning especially as we add more and more chemicals & contaminants to our environment which end up in drinking water – along with pharmaceuticals which end up in our drinking water too).
Didn’t mean to write a book…thanks for giving this issue the spotlight and I hope you & your family have a very merry Christmas!
Good for you for sticking with it! I’ve been doing this for a couple years now and it’s second nature. I can’t even remember the last time I bought bottled water. A tip for hotel travel: if the hotel has a gym, then they have a filtered water dispenser! So when I travel I always fill up my bottle at the hotel gym. There’s no law against walking in just for the water 🙂
Smart! Will definitely use that tip next time we travel.
Travel is the worst for drinking water and when I find myself resorting to bottles. I live in Europe and drinking fountains are pretty much non-existent here. Seriously in my city the ONLY place I have ever found one was in the American consulate! Also in the airport here there are no drinking fountains, and the taps in the restrooms are kept so warm that the water is not really drinkable even with bringing an empty bottle/container through security– in the old days before air travel liquid restrictions I happily filled up my bottle in advance at home and along the way, and the airport restaurants here in my city’s airport will not give you tap water. (And concerning the temp– believe me, I am well used to the lukewarm temps of drinks here– it’s not like I expect to be able to get a big ol’ glass of ice water or something!) Many city restaurants will not give you tap water or when they do charge an ridiculous amount of money for it, even when you have ordered other beverages as well. I find it all strange, as the tap water here comes from the Alps and is of excellent quality and taste, and they are usually so into ‘green’ things here, but this is a big exception.
Does it at least count that I always have reusable shopping bags/baskets?! My kids say my handbag is like something out of Mary Poppins as I can always find a reusable shopping bag in it when we are in a store at the checkout.
That is so frustrating. Why is that?? Thank you for trying and yes every little thing counts!
P.S. But what we did do in our household is we got a Soda Stream machine for turning tap water into fizzy soda water, so I am no longer regularly buying plastic bottles of mineral water. A win-win for me because I no longer have to schlepp the bottles into our home, at the grocery checkout, etc.
Love that! We do the cans of seltzer and it always feels so wasteful. Adding Soda Stream to my list 🙂
I will continue with the water bottle challenge and carry my Yeti cup virtually everywhere. I have also added to the challenge and decline straws at restaurants.
Love that. I am going to join you on the straw front.
My husband and I used to buy the giant water bottle package at Costco every 4 weeks!!!! Haven’t purchased a single bottle since starting your challenge.
We realized we both had reusable water bottles in the back of a kitchen cupboard and now I take mine with me everywhere. It’s also stopped me from buying so many coffees/Starbucks drinks because I realized when I’m out I’m often just thirsty and don’t really need the fancy expensive drink.
Just wanted to say thank you for starting a great movement! 🙂
This makes me so happy. Thank you for sharing this!!
This is one of the best ideas I’ve ever gotten from a blogger! It’s simple, impactful and doable. I’m proud to say I’ve only bought one bottle of water since you announced this, and my husband has gotten on board as well. I love my HydroFlask and I’ve gotten in the habit of carrying a collapsible water bottle in my bag at all times. Kudos to you for inspiring others to care for our planet. Can’t wait to hear about your next challenge!
This has been such a great challenge to follow! I normally always carry a water bottle in my bag or backpack for school. So, I have not purchased a plastic bottle during the challenge and probably for months before hand! In the past few weeks, I have been trying to not use single use coffee cups. This has been more of a challenge, but I am getting better at also bringing my to-go coffee tumbler any where (mostly grad school ahah) I feel I will need more coffee!! Thanks for sparking all of this, Julia! I am so happy that a lot of us have saved plastic from the environment! 🙂
I grew up with parents who taught us the value of sustainability and taking care of the earth. As I got older and saw more of the world, it amazed me to find just how rare that trait was. I think its awesome that you’re using your platform to help people change a terrible habit (like single use plastics) that we as a society take for granted…and you totally make sustainability look chic!