Staying hydrated is important for all of us, especially during summer. Therefore, very often you find yourself in a grocery store, buying a bottle of water. Sometimes, this very plastic bottle may end up in your home, where you’ll decide to reuse it the next day, when going for a run, or maybe even the day after that, when taking the dog for a walk.

plastic bottle

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The plastic bottles used to sell water and soda are made from a plastic material known as polyethylene terephthalate, PET or PETE. In a way, PET is porous and can be extremely difficult to clean, making it a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Also, it degrades pretty fast, especially when exposed to sunlight or heat. A safe conclusion is that it cannot survive a prolonged use.

The Dangers Of Reusing A Plastic Bottle

Plastic bottles are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, which is harmful for the human health. The bacteria and other microbes tend to hide in the cracks and ridges of these water bottles. Furthermore, exposure to these germs can lead to upset stomach, vomiting and diarrhea. To keep the bacteria at bay, you’d have to wash the plastic bottle with soap and warm water. However, please note that over time, washing will only degrade the plastic bottle further, and will keep the germs away only for a short while, before build up resumes.

Secondly, as time passes by, the normal process of tear and wear of plastic bottles could cause a leak of the chemicals used in the composition of the bottles. When leaked into the drinks and foods you carry, these chemicals could cause many different illnesses. Research links these leaked chemicals to cancer, among which uterine and breast cancer, decreased levels of testosterone and miscarriages. In addition, these chemicals may also affect the development in children, when the exposure happens through their feeding bottles and food containers, made of plastic.

How To Safely Use Plastic Containers And Bottles
  1. Do not reuse plastic soda and water bottles, from the store. They are intended for one-time use only. As discussed above, they encourage bacterial growth and degrade very fast, releasing harmful chemicals into the contents inside them.
  2. Many people have those heavy, strong plastic bottles, such as the ones used for hiking. If you have one made of Lexan or polycarbonate, avoid putting hot liquids in it. Heat speeds up the degradation process, causing the chemicals from the plastic bottle to permeate into the drink. Also, when washing, do not use hot water. Instead, use warm water and a mild detergent.
  3. If you love to carry hot beverages, such as tea or coffee, a stainless steel, double walled mug or thermos is the ideal solution for you. The best reusable plastic bottle for long-term use would be one made of aluminum exterior, with an enamel liner inside of it.

That being said, polycarbonate bottles are okay for use in the long-term, but you can only carry cold liquids in them. Safer choices for plastic bottles include HDPE or also known as plastic number 2, polypropylene or plastic number 5, and low mass polyethylene aka plastic number 4.

If your plastic bottle starts looking misty, or if it smells funny, it’s time to throw it in the recycle bin and buy a new one.

What You Need To Know Before You Reuse That Plastic Water Bottle
This is why you should never refill your plastic water bottle … even if you wash it
A Complete Guide to Reusing Plastic Bottles
Reusing Plastic Bottles Can Pose Serious Health Hazards