Many people think they’re being “green” by refilling and reusing bottled water. In fact, reusing single serve plastic can be very harmful to your health. Here are three reasons why you should avoid reusing plastic:
1. The majority of water bottles are made of plastic type #1 (found in the recycling triangle at the bottom of ALL plastics), or polyethylene terephthalate (PET). This type of plastic is intended for single use purposes only because scientists believe that after multiple uses, chemicals in this light weight, shatter resistant plastic will leach in to the water they contain. One study was conducted by a University of Idaho Graduate Student for his master’s thesis, arguing that toxins from plastics #1 (water bottle plastics), leach in to drinking water. In 2006, this student’s project revealed 88% of bottled water users reuse their bottles for weeks, even months, at a time before recycling them. Over this length of time, bottles are exposed to heat, light, and manual pressure, all of which cause the plastic to release unhealthy compounds, like the carcinogen di (2-ethylhexyl) or *DEHA, in to the water. To limit this type of chemical exposure, the study recommends limiting a plastic water bottle’s life span to less than a week and keeping it out of the heat and sun. In fact, most bottled water labels state to keep them in a cool, dry, and clean place, away from light. Do not refill. Seems easy enough.
2. BACTERIA. In 2002, the University of Calgary, published a study in The Canadian Journal of Public Health that showed alarming levels of bacteria (including fecal matter), in water bottles that were reused without being cleaned. Bacteria thrive in warm, moist environments, and this is another reason to avoid reusing plastic water bottles.
3. Majority of bottled water is made up of standard tap water. Some studies have shown that municipal water or tap water is actually the source of a significant amount of bottled water sold in this country.
Guide to Understanding Plastic:
* #2 HDPE (high density polyethylene): used in opaque food bottles like milk or water jugs and the safest choice if you are using plastic!
* #4 LDPE (Low density polyethylene): used in food storage bags and some soft bottles, a good choice if using plastic.
* #5 PP (polypropylene): Used in rigid containers, including some baby bottles, cups, bowls, and food storage containers, a good choice if using plastic.
* #1 PET (polyethylene terephthalate): Most clear beverage bottles used by Dasani, Crystal Geyser, Aquafina. etc), recycle after one use, use in moderation!
* #3 PVC (polyvinyl chloride aka vinyl): food containers, some plastic or cling wraps, some soft bottles: avoid as best you can, if using plastic wrap, don’t let it touch your food!
* #6 PS (polystyrene): Styrofoam, used in take out containers, meat and bakery trays, clear take out containers and some plastic cutlery: AVOID: it leaches chemicals in to your food, some of which can disrupt normal hormonal functioning.
* #7 (polycarbonate or Lexan): used in 5 gallon water bottles, some baby bottles, and some metal can linings: AVOID: polycarbonate can release BPA, a suspected hormone disrupter that may cause chromosomal disruption, miscarriages, and birth defects!