What’s in YOUR water bottle?

by Holly McKee

The big thing in news today is BPA (Bisphenol A), a chemical previously used in polycarbonates (such as Nalgene Bottles). Without going into a polymer chemistry lecture, here are some things you need to know.

Other plastic have risks too.  In fact all plastics do, but we can’t avoid them.  We’ve been told that it takes plastics forever to biodegrade, but plastics have many components and some leech out faster than others.  There are things you can do to keep your bottles from degrading so fast, and steps you can take to keep your water safer.

1.  Don’t microwave your plastics – not bottles, not tupperware, not anything.  Even if it says “microwave safe”, extreme heat breaks things down faster.  This goes for leaving your water bottles in the car in Texas for long periods of time.

2.  This goes along with the heat issue in number one. Hand wash and air dry your bottles.  If your dishwasher has a delicate cycle and you can turn off the drying cycle then go ahead and put them in.  This is what I do with our baby bottles and water bottles.

3.  Cheap free water bottles are just that.  The cheaper the plastic the cheaper the materials used in making it.  It’s time to get rid of that big bin of water bottles you have.  Any water bottle older than a year or two is past it’s prime.  You can recycle it with the City of Austin or Ecology Action.

4.  Check your stainless steel bottles.  Stainless bottles have a plastic coating on the inside, which is a variation of the same plastics used for making water bottles.  Again, bottles that are a couple of years old should be taken out of you hydration routine.

5.  DON’T reuse the plastic water bottles you get when you buy bottled water.  Refilling it once or twice won’t hurt.  Washing and using them for days on end isn’t a good idea. Those bottles are rated for a single use and  should be used just for that.  I know you feel guilty and don’t want waste things; save them for a craft project or recycle them, then try to stick with reusable bottles.

6.  Every 6-12 months  go through and look at your bottles.  Are they yellowing?  Do they smell sort of sweet or funny? Are they not as flexible as before?  Is the shape deformed?  If so, recycle it and get a new one.  I don’t keep my bottles more a 12-18 months.

7.  I know some of you are thinking, “I have that water bottle from my first (insert race here) ten years ago.”  If you’re attached to it, keep it.  Just put it on a shelf and look at it.

Recycling information for Austin can be found here:


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