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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Reuse those water bottles on your next trip

What’s the most important thing for a trip, especially one that requires lots of walking in warmer temperatures? The obvious – and correct – answer is water. You don’t have to be a marathon runner to know the proper consumption of water is vital to making it through a trip. Eight ounces of water per hour – basically a full water bottle every two hours or so – would be ideal when hiking the streets of New York or the trails of Colorado.

And it's not just when on a trip that requires a lot of walking. Making a nine-hour car ride to the beach? Throw in a case of water bottles.

But if you’re a frugal traveler like myself, you don’t want to buy water bottles every two hours when walking the streets of Rome. My philosophy that has worked quite well is to buy one bottle at the beginning of a trip and fill it when and where I can: water fountains in a museum or even a bathroom sink. In Rome, there are fountains everywhere for this exact purpose. I always start out the day with a fill from the bathroom or kitchen sink wherever I’m staying. Throw it in my backpack and I'm ready to go.

Of course with all the chatter about the reuse of water bottles being dangerous, some will frown upon this.

These rumors – I call them rumors because apparently some of the “water bottles cause cancer” claims were actually based off a student’s thesis – claim reusing water bottles is dangerous because they contain DEHA, which some consider to be a potential carcinogen. But the American Cancer Society debunks that.

The American Cancer Society on its Web site states: “ … DEHA is not inherent in the plastic used to make these bottles, and even if it was the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says DEHA ‘cannot reasonably be anticipated to cause cancer, teratogenic effects, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity, gene mutations, liver, kidney, reproductive, or developmental toxicity or other serious or irreversible chronic health effects.’ Meanwhile, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), says diethylhexyl adipate ‘is not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans.’”

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has said these packages are safe for reuse. That’s all the reassurance I need.

Of course one interesting fact about reusing plastic water bottles has been mentioned: They can be a health risk in that improper cleaning – or lack thereof – could lead to the ingestion of harmful bacteria. And I guess if you fill from a water fountain that has had a 7-year-old’s mouth all over it that could be a bit gross.

But I’m willing to chance it.

And one more positive to reusing those plastic water bottles instead of buying a new one every couple hours: the U.S. consumes water from some 1,500 plastic bottles every second. That's insane. Why do you want to fill the landfills with those bottles?

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