Bring your own water bottle: an action that’s become symbolic of the first step towards starting your sustainable living journey. With reusable water bottles now available in almost every high street shop, is it even worth spending time reading or writing a blog post about them? If you’d asked me six months ago, I probably would have said it was a waste of time. Now I think it might be the most important article I’ve ever written.
One small step for (wo)man…
I’ve been considering how to start my blog, Creatively Everyday, for over a year. I first had the idea when I began taking steps in my own life to become more eco-conscious, which then grew into a wider understanding of sustainability and how to make less-impactful lifestyle choices. Recently, it has become a journey into mindful and intuitive living that incorporates everything from the cleaner I use in the kitchen to the amount of cauliflower I serve at dinner to the specific colour of the Kallax I bought for my little boy’s room. Mindful living has become, for me, the answer to that ever-pressing question: how do I live a life that makes me happy?
Environment is important
Buying our first house was a catalyst for me to start looking into ways to lessen my negative impact on the environment. With a small baby and plenty of hours spent feeding him, I quickly ran out of The Big Bang Theory episodes and turned my attention to ways to improve my immediate vicinity.
It makes sense that if you want to save the planet: start close to home.
I’ve always been quite practical: I prefer Doc Martens to Jimmy Choos and hand-me-down jumpers to plunging-necklines, and I like the idea of having things in my life as close to ‘natural’ as possible. I have always had a hint of mistrust about our reliance on man-made/convenient things, and I like to think that I would at least have some chance of surviving without these items should some world-ending event take place. But, I also like clean clothes and non-greasy hair, so I didn’t want to use the first recipe for DIY kitchen cleaner without knowing if the time, energy and money would be well-spent and it would be effective. As much as I like to be prepared should some dystopian future hit, I still wanted to make sure that my choices were backed up by the science.
Bring your own water bottle: Research Time
So, I started researching. And when I started, I couldn’t stop. I ended up with lists and notes and files about eco cleaning, plastic reduction and how to steam clean everything you own to within an inch of its life, I had conversations with friends and family, eager to share my experience with citric acid and essential oils, and I shared links to articles I found useful when people asked questions online.
Slowly, after a couple of months of this, a few people started seeking me out to ask questions, and if I didn’t know the answer, I’d google it to see what I could find. A blog seemed like the next logical step, and so Creatively Everyday was born.
One giant leap for sustainable living…
Great! A blog! Super easy, right?
I ended up going round in circles. For all my research, and the changes I enacted in my own life, I wouldn’t commit to writing them down.
Fear, for starters. About putting my words out there; that, even though I did a lot of research, I’d mess up, or that I wasn’t qualified to put a little slice of my own thoughts and opinions on the internet. Laziness, as well. Procrastination is my forte and I wasn’t giving it enough attention. And…I was overwhelmed. Where was I supposed to start? Didn’t my first post have to be explosive? Attention-grabbing? Perfect?
Something about my mindset had to change or Creatively was going to sit on the shelf forever.
Enter Player #2
So, I asked (told) my partner to help and do all the hard work for me and create a schedule for content generation. This was right up his street, so his agreement was immediate and emphatical.
A week later and he’d done it, but he’d also taken it upon himself to create a list of content ideas as well, much to my chagrin.
Sitting right at the top: number one, bring your own water bottle.
This was an eye-roll moment for me. I informed him that reusable water bottles are everywhere and no-one wants to read about them any more.
And then he said something beautiful.
‘But you’re trying to reach people who aren’t being sustainable yet. It makes sense to start small, instead of jumping in the deep end. Try doing a post titled “Bring Your Own Water Bottle!”’
Aaaaaaand, that’s about the time I realised that my feelings of overwhelm were exactly the same as everyone else’s feelings of overwhelm. Mine was about starting a blog, where others would have them about beginning the process of becoming more sustainable, and what I needed to hear would probably be similar to what other people need to hear.
It doesn’t have to be explosive. It doesn’t have to be attention-grabbing. It doesn’t have to be perfect. One small action in the right direction is all you need to do. The rest will follow. Just. Start.
And where is the absolute best place to start? By ditching plastic water bottles and buying yourself a shiny (or sparkly or matte or see-through – whatever floats your boat, really) water bottle. This water bottle should not be a purchase made in haste. This is the first step on your journey to mindful, conscious-living. Less throwaway, more keep-it-forever. And because this water bottle will be reusable and durable, it will become an extension of you, it will be the flask to which you entrust the simple, yet essential, liquid that you drink daily. It is your love note to the future, so don’t rush your decision.
But, what’s so bad about plastic anyway?
Plastic water bottles take upwards of 400 years to break down (into smaller, micro-plastics). That’s every. single. bottle. If it doesn’t end up being recycled, it will be around long after we, and our children, and our children’s children, and our children’s children’s…(you get the idea) are gone. Generations into the future and these plastic bottles will still be here. In 350 years, someone somewhere will be looking at an empty bottle and wondering what on earth we were thinking.
Bring your own water bottle: Let’s break it down (unlike those pesky bottles)
Here’s a fun bit of maths for you. Let’s assume a single-use plastic water bottle will take 400 years to break down from the moment it leaves the shelf. Let’s also assume that it takes the consumer 1 hour to drink the water. If we scale 400 years down to 24 hours, then, relatively, the consumer will have used that bottle for 0.025 of a second. That’s 25 milliseconds. For comparison, it takes 300 – 400 milliseconds to blink.
Of course, this goes for every single thing made of plastic, not just water bottles. It goes for what we buy our cleaning products in, the toys we buy our children, the knick-knacks we get in Christmas crackers, the cups we use outside on a summer’s day. If it’s made of plastic, it’s sticking around for a long-ass time.
Sustainable sustainable living
It’s easy, at this stage, as we become more aware of the scale of the problem, to feel that aforementioned feeling of crushing overwhelm, but we have to remember to breathe and remember that we’re starting small. To make a long-lasting change we must make changes at a pace that is sustainable for us as individuals. It’s easy to trawl Instagram and see pictures of perfectly plastic-free homes and feel like an eco-conscious, mindful lifestyle is unattainable without coconut bowls, seagrass baskets, an entire shelf of kale and five Grimms rainbows.
And, the truth is, all those items are lovely. I would love to own coconut bowls, seagrass baskets and five Grimms rainbows (I’ll even take the kale, seeing as it’s so good for us), but, realistically, I can’t afford to go out and buy all those items (ironically, I could probably afford the kale). Does this mean that a low-plastic, low waste, eco-conscious, mindful lifestyle is beyond me?
I’ll say it louder for those at the back: sustainable living MUST be sustainable for the individual.
Sustainable living must be sustainable for the individual.
Which is why my first blog post is about the first step. It’s about embracing the start of a journey that is long and winding. Eco-living, zero-waste, low-waste, mindful living, call it whatever you will, it’s not an exact science. It requires dedication, commitment and the openness to learning, and being wrong. Mindful living is about choosing to trust your instincts, listening to your gut and believing in yourself. It’s also about choosing a goshdarrnit water bottle.
Bring Your Own. But What-er bottle?
A few years ago, I didn’t own a reusable water bottle. Now I own three. I have two Klean Kanteens (a single walled flask and a double walled tumbler with a straw). The very first flask I bought was from a company called Futurepace and the bottle has served me well. I only bought the Klean Kanteen because the Futurepace got lost (and then re-found). I bought the tumbler when I started driving and I realised that I couldn’t unscrew the top from my other bottles, but I could drink from a straw.
There are plenty of gorgeous reusable bottles out there, and I could easily buy many, manny more. However, that goes against my ethos of mindful living, so I will stay content with the ones I have until they break or are no longer serviceable.
If you have decided to take the plunge, and are looking for a bit of help choosing your water bottle, I have made a list.
Bring your own water bottle: How to Choose a Water Bottle
- Decide what kind of insulation you want. Water bottles have different types, and the more insulated, the longer it will keep your beverage cold (or hot). The usual types of insulation are single-walled (won’t keep your drinks hot or cold) and double-walled (will keep cold drinks cold and hot drinks hot)
- Decide what material you would like. Glass is gorgeous but might not fit in with your lifestyle if you mountain bike every weekend. Plastic is affordable and widely available, but it’s still plastic. Stainless steel is hard-wearing and great for people who are on the go
- What kind of lid do you want? Screw-cap, push-on, leak-proof, sports cap?
- When you find a couple of brands you like, do a bit of research, what are their manufacturing policies? Where is the item made? Are their practices ethical?
- Once you’ve found a brand to which you are happy to give your money, decide on a pattern/colour. Stay simple or step out and be bold? Don’t forget, this item will be with you until it is no longer serviceable so choose wisely (no pressure)
- What’s your budget? This is so important. Being sustainable must be sustainable for you and your lifestyle, including, most importantly, your budget. Reusable water bottles range in price from £ – £££. There are plenty of really great ones that sit around the £20 mark, but if you’re looking to kick a single-use plastic bottle habit on a small budget, then buying the cheapest you can find will still have an exponentially positive effect on your waste-output, regardless of material or manufacturer
- Commit and buy
- Enjoy your new life as an eco-warrier!
- Extra points: don’t worry if you don’t make the ‘perfect’ decision. Imperfection allows for growth. Go with your gut and do what you’re comfortable with. Stressing about the process isn’t enjoyable and something that isn’t enjoyable isn’t sustainable long term. The one thing we should all be striving for is how to make our mindful, earth-conscious journey as sustainable for ourselves as possible. That means letting go of everything being perfect and allowing ourselves space and room to breathe, explore and make mistakes. We don’t need to do everything all at once.
TL;DR: choose the most ethical and longest lasting water bottle that meets your needs and specifications and is within your budget. Then love and use that bottle for the rest of its life.