Stay hydrated (this summer), but best avoid drinking from plastic water bottles

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

dedopperWater in plastic bottles can cause all sorts of health and environmental problems – so rather use tap water and use a refillable bottle instead. If you do not like the taste of tap water or are concerned about the chlorine and possibly even fluoride in the water then use a (charcoal) filter.

The weather this summer has been (mostly) glorious, but the heat means we all need to drink more water to stay hydrated. A fact many people forget and then get sick.

As water makes up about 60 percent of our weight keeping well hydrated is vital for proper functioning as every system in the body depends on water. Dehydration can lead to all manner of ills, including kidney failure and death.
Water helps with alertness and performance in sports, it controls appetite, and it also keeps symptoms like fatigue, headaches and dry skin at bay.

In the summer heat, we perspire more and need to drink more. Also, perspiration causes us to lose salt which we have to replenish and for that reason the military issues soldiers with salt tablets in hot conditions.

But in the summer, drinking water from a plastic bottle – which we all know is an expensive way to get water1, and is never great from an environmental point of view2 – means that the exposure to chemicals such as BPA and phthalates3 which leach from the plastic into the water is made worse by the heat. (BPA and phthalates can cause a whole host of problems to the immune system, the brain and the prostate.)

When we talk here about plastic bottles it refers to those made from PET primarily and those made from polycarbonate material of the old style. There are plastic bottles that do not leach BPA and other nasty stuff and thus are usable.

So, follow these guidelines to stay hydrated, healthy and cut down on waste:

On the move: If you're out and about: drink tap water using a refillable, re-usable bottle and you have a number of choices in that department. The best choice is glass, but that is breakable. The next best is stainless steel but there are also some BPA free plastic bottles to be had such as the Ohyo, which is a collapsible water bottle, the Brita with even a built-in charcoal filter, or, last but not least, De Dopper. Plastic is not always bad in all three cases they are BPA free.

About 1.5 million tons of plastic are used to make water bottles each year around the world, and the processing itself releases toxic compounds like nickel, ethylbenzene, ethylene oxide and benzene. Not to mention the health problems that plastic water bottles can cause.

There are many public fountains and refilling places for reusable bottles that can be found on the Internet in and around London and possibly also elsewhere. Unfortunately many pubs and such like are very reluctant to fill up people's bottles and this is rather a shame. Everyone is seeing Pound signs in front of their eyes all the time instead of being community and environmentally minded.

At home: Drink tap water at home instead of buying water and, as said, if you don't like the taste or are concerned about impurities as well as chlorine or even fluoride then use a charcoal filter and filter your water. The same goes for being out and about.

You could also invest in a distiller which guarantees total safety as far as your water is concerned distillation will remove (almost) everything. I never say 100% as it simply is not possible.

You can use filtered water to drink at home, or fill up a refillable bottle to take around with you. But avoid, as much as possible, buying bottled water which, aside from the fact that the plastic bottles may leach chemicals, and thus the stuff is not good for your physical health, it is also not good for your financial health and that of the Planet.

Who, in their right mind, would pay $2 for less than a quart of bottled water which, in a great majority of cases, is but tap water which may, or may not, have been filtered and, maybe, undergone “reverse osmosis”.

In Britain and many other countries tap water is perfectly safe – safer in fact than bottled water as municipal water undergoes much stricter testing than does bottled water – to drink as it comes and even better so if filtered or distilled and then left to settle for a couple of hours.

Please remember also that hydration is not just important in the summer heat. Also in the cold of winter dehydration happens fast, only you do not realize it as easily and often it can be too late. So, remember to stay hydrated at all times with your own refillable water bottle and tap.

Give me tap...

© 2013

1 Typically bottled water retails at up to 500 times more than the price of tap water. ETC, University of Nottingham.

2 Bottled water also has considerable environmental costs, including the energy costs of production and transport, and the environmental costs of disposing of (or, very rarely, recycling) the bottles. Sustainweb

3 Studies have shown that phthalates, which are known to disrupt testosterone and other hormones, can leach into bottled water over time. NDRC