Lauren Life List Update: Giving Up The Bottle

Thankfully I don’t mean the glass bottles because that would mean beer… and wine… and hard liquor. And that would just be wrong.

A little while ago I wrote about my fear of the complete deterioration of the environment and thus, the end of the world. In the comments Kirstin said:

I don’t think you’re irrational about this, and I completely understand the fear. (I may actually be completely irrational, because in addition to worrying about “my kids won’t be able to swim in lakes or eat fresh food,” I also worry about things like “I won’t be able to send them to private college and if I die, I can’t trust anyone else with them.)

You’ve got the right idea, though. All we can do is take the steps we can to stop this mess, and realize that things happen without our consent all the time, and sometimes all we can do is be brave and face them.

(PS- you’ll be happy to know I almost bought a bottle of water on Sunday, and then I thought, “What would Lauren do?” and stopped myself.)

And hey! I’ve greatly, greatly reduced my bottle water usage! She’s right! Ever since 8/7/2010 I’ve purchased 4 bottles of water. I understand that sometimes (like during air travel, or during other unique situations) the convenience of a bottle of water trumps my pursuit of zero-ing out, but if you ever thought you couldn’t live without your daily bottle, you can.

My parents used to (and possibly still do, though it makes me grit my teeth to think about) buy cases and cases and cases of bottled water. It was all they ever drank, though they live in a brand new building with lovely pipes and delicious Seattle water. And therefore, it was all I ever drank. It’s incredibly expensive to maintain over time, and the water isn’t even regulated in the bottles, it’s probably just tap water. I hadn’t really thought about bottled water before a few years ago. Before I learned about the giant floating island of plastic in the ocean and how much waste plastic bottles alone generate.

Kamel also used to live in a place where you couldn’t drink the water. So his apartment was littered with bottles and jugs. It was such a pain to have to run to the grocery store every week just to buy water. I hated it. It was messy and inconvenient. So we bought a Brita Filter. Now, we’re in a place where we can drink the water, but we still use our filter because it’s nice.

Basically, I’ve learned that it’s so easy to NOT buy bottled water. Or at least greatly reduce how much you use. I buy glass bottles or aluminum cans when I can, and I always recycle. I recycle the plastic I do use, and when I have purchased a bottle of water I reuse it as much as possible.

This is one of those things where I feel my actions really do matter. Think of how much bottled water you would drink if you opened one or two bottles a DAY. And now reduce it to about 5 bottles a year… that’s what I call an impact. And I don’t even really notice it, it’s something I think about when I’m choosing what to drink, and that’s it. And I pay real attention when I do buy a bottle of water because I know that I have to account for it in my Life List Tab, so it better be worth it.

And that’s the update! You can do it too, it just takes a little more awareness than usual.

20 thoughts on “Lauren Life List Update: Giving Up The Bottle”

  1. You and I share a similar environmental-world-doom phobia. The only way I feel in control of it is to control the only thing I CAN control – moi.

    Stephen and I do not use paper towels. I bought a bunch of $1 towels at a thrift store, cut them up and hemmed the edges. I have a metric-ass-ton of rag towels now. It really doesn’t add to our general laundry load (because when your husband comes home covered in cow manure every day you do a lot of laundry) and I feel a lot better not throwing out a towel every time I have to clean something.

    (*we keep an emergency roll of papertowels around for dog-crap and barf incidences. Both of these things happen now and then when your dogs are accustomed to eating EVERYTHING they see)

    1. We don’t use paper towels, either! Though a hidden emergency role might be a good idea (despite our current lack of dog). It’s surprising how little you actually need to use something like that. When I first considered it, I was scared since I didn’t know how to live without them… but then I realized that my grandmothers lived many years without them & they seem to have done ok!

      1. I have not been able to commit to the no paper towels life. I try to buy recycled (though, they are awful) and they do replace plates, which makes less washing… but really, I know they are wasteful. One environmental challenge at a time. Sigh.

    2. I’ve wanted to get rid of paper-towels for a long time, but wasn’t sure how. I’ll have to try that next time I’m at the second-hand shop.

      (PS – Lauren, thanks for the shout-out!)

      1. Random internet person chiming here! Hi. =)

        I’m a total paper towel fiend, but what we do is just throw them in the compost bin most of the time (unless it’s like, soaked in Windex or something… y’know.)

        I’ll admit, my research into this consists skimming the summaries of the top 3 google results for “can you compost paper towels,” but it appears that you totally can! So if that’s an option, it might help mitigate the guilt.

        1. I love this! And I love your avatar 🙂 Beacuse I have to admit, me and paper towels have an unholy love. So if I can compost that, I will. I may not be able to stomach food compost, but I would compost every paper towel EVER if I could. Love love love.

  2. I gave up plastic bottles a while back too… I even gave up my plastic Nalgene because it started to smell funky. I ended up buying a glass bottle with a rubber sleeve from and loveeee it. It doesn’t have that weird smell that plastic bottles love to accrue, and the water always tastes fresh instead of somewhat stale and plasticky.

  3. yes! hate bottled water SO. MUCH. I get really angry about how prevalent it is, I’m going to try not to let my rage out here. my officemates really boil my blood – perfectly good tap water, perfectly good cold drinkable water in the frickin bubbler in the kitchen, but STILL they insist on drinking bottled water all day (and don’t even get me started on how they use paper and styrofoam cups for their coffee in the morning even though we have perfectly good ceramic mugs in the cupboard. and they refuse to recycle basically everything because they’re just effing LAZY. RAWRRRR).

    It’s awesome that you’ve kicked the habit. maybe one day your parents will come around! 🙂

  4. i’m with you on this one too. and though i’m not proud of it i judge people who drink bottled water. these days its soo super easy to use a reusable bottle, i can’t understand why people insist on creating waste.

    our little family has taken it another step further and we are working on not purchasing any single serving beverages. its amazing how many soda bottles and cans you can accumulate in a week without thinking about it. we’ve now started making koolaid (yes, brings back memories of childhood, but its delicious, and sugar free if you use splenda to make it) and drinking that whenever we crave a flavored drink.

    every little thing we do helps…kudos to you on sticking to your goals.

  5. Jon’s one of those that buys cases and cases and cases. It’s really rather sad. He does crush the bottles when he’s done (and recycle them when he can) but it’s still a lot of waste. His recent office move necessitated buying him a metal water bottle (fancy boy) as they refused to order anything but big jugs. Hopefully I can get him to adopt that at home as well. (We have a Britta to combat the faintly chlorine-tasting water. It’s wonderful.)

    When on the go (especially working out), I’m totally guilty of using bottles. They’re just so damn convenient. BUT! Over the weekend I bought a Bobble ( … it’s a Britta on the go! And I LOVE IT. It means I can fill up anywhere I find a tap (within reason) and have fresh filtered, like at home. With a sports top. Obvs.

    Plus, it’s cute. Total win.

    1. I’m loving all of these pretty water bottle links. I bought a sigg bottle years ago but then my water always tasted like metal. Shame, too because they were so cute. I also can’t abide bottles with caps that aren’t attached to the bottle… if I have to unscrew it and hold it, or risk having it roll off my desk it’s a no-go. I’m too clumsy. 🙂

      1. And it is for those two reason that I never used the metal bottle a past employer gave me. Glass I’d break.

        But at home …. glass or nothing. And there’s a mug that lives on my desk for all things drinkable. It’s lovely. =)

  6. I used to drink bottled water sometimes, and kept a case in my car for “emergencies”, but I’ve pretty much stopped buying bottled water. I’ll still drink it at events, and I use the water cooler at the office (I’m pretty sure our tap water isn’t that safe to drink), but I refill either a water bottle or a paper cup and keep it on my desk for several days. I use camelback water bottles and I love them – they are so easy to drink out of when driving in the car, etc.

    Like yours, my parents buy a TON of bottled water and drink it in absolutely the most wasteful way possible. My dad drinks fizzy water by the case, but he has recently quit drinking, so I let the fizzy water go, but every f*cking time I come to their house and get a glass of water from the filter in the refrigerator (the built in kind – delicious and easy), he tries to offer me an 8oz bottle of water instead. I do my best not to lose it or make snide comments about how wasteful they are, but sometimes I can’t help it. For two people who supposedly care about the environment, they are two of the most wasteful people I’ve ever met, and it makes reducing my own impact feel almost moot.

    1. I bought my parents sigg bottles when I had had enough. and they did use them. I think they’ve cut back on the bottled water mania once I pointed out the expense and harped on them enough about the gift I had given them (hello!) and how they needed to actually USE IT. But yes, it boggles me. I think it really is just a habit and a comfort thing, but once you just make a conscious choice of it, letting the bottle go is SO EASY.

    2. Maybe your dad would like one of those soda-maker machines (thinking of gifts you could get him)? I have a friend who loves hers and has completely given up buying bottled fizzy water since getting it.

  7. Good for you that you’ve been able to make so much progress on this life list item!

    I mostly just buy bottled drinks while travelling (and even then try not to). If I know the water’s good in a certain place I bring my Sigg or Nalgene and fill it up at the hotel or in the airport after security (for the record: Detroit is good, Barcelona’s good but really hard, Florence is good, Amsterdam is awesome, and Paris kind of freaks me out). For a recent long weekend away we brought a liter Sigg and a half-liter Nalgene (full), then bought a single 2-liter bottle from a grocery store & just kept filling up my little Nalgene. It seemed like an ok compromise, since I don’t have (or want to carry!) any more bottles.

    1. OoooOOOO I love your traveling water rundown. Tell me more about paris! I think I drank the water there? I don’t remember being afraid of it, that’s for sure… but I may have gone the bottle route out of convenience. What’s the scoop?? And how do you find out about water ok-edness… is there a website? (There has to be, right?)

  8. I think part of my current love for the Bay Area (and abiding love for Atlanta) is the drinkable tap water. Delicious.

    Drinkability of tap water is actually pretty high up on the list of places I will and won’t live, come to think of it….

  9. I saw this item on your life list a couple of months ago and I was inspired. Since then, I have purchased 2 bottles. Not too bad! It also made me think about my coffee mugs. I used to use cardboard cups in my office. Now, I use my mug each day, rinse it out, and reuse it the next day. On Friday, I bring it home for a good scrub. It’s great and definitely cuter than the cardboard cups.

    We use a brita at home too. Did you know that you can recycle those brita filters?

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