Best Alternatives to Plastic Water Bottles

The best alternatives to plastic water bottles

Our overuse of plastics has serious consequences both for our health and for our environment.

The Problem of Plastic Water Bottles…

What seems like a harmless plastic water bottle contains hormone disrupting chemicals like BPA and Phthalates. BPA has been shown to cause hormone imbalance in the body and has even been linked to various types of cancers, obesity, miscarriage, infertility and neurological disorders.

Phthalates have been banned in many parts of the world and are especially concerning for men and boys as they have been linked to lower testosterone and male infertility.

The Price of Convenience

As harmful as plastics are to us individually, we are all facing unwanted exposure from worldwide plastic pollution.

Sure, plastic water bottles are inexpensive, disposable and convenient, but they are also terrible for our ecosystem. In fact, many of the negative health effects attributed to the harmful components in plastic may come from our planet’s growing plastic burden.

Many tons of plastic waste are dumped into the ocean each year. The combination of UV light and the salt of the ocean cause these plastics to break down and release BPA, Phthalates, PCBs and DDT into the ocean water. These chemicals are absorbed by small marine life and eventually work their way up the food supply.

In fact, experts now claim that no ocean in the world is free from this plastic pollution and several have said that this is the most dire issue facing our ocean and our planet today. Plastic chemicals were even found under 30 feet of ice in the Antarctic, a place not even inhabited by humans and previously not thought to be contaminated by plastic waste.

Why is this such a problem?

Plastic consumption is still rising at a drastic rate…

Trillions of plastic bags are discarded each year and these bags can take up to a thousand years to degrade. During this time, they are releasing these hormone disrupting chemicals into the ocean, groundwater and soil.

Even now, there is an estimated 46,000 pieces of plastic floating in every square mile of the ocean.

At the rate that plastic is being used and discarded and the length of time that plastic takes to degrade, it seems logical that plastic overuse could become the biggest health and ecological problem of our time.

Alternatives to Plastic Water Bottles

Water bottles are not the only source of plastic waste, but they are a major source of plastic exposure. Disposable water bottles can leach their hormone disrupting chemicals right into the water you drink from them. Heat or light exposure can speed up this process, as can the amount of time the water spends in the bottle.

We can all do a lot for our health and the environment by making two simple switches:

  1. Switching to reusable grocery bags, produce bags,  and plastic bags
  2. Using a reusable, non-plastic water bottle

There are so many great options for reusable water bottles now. I use mine daily for lemon water in the morning, smoothies and herbal tea throughout the day, and water.

Over the last several years, I’ve tried quite a few different plastic-free reusable water bottles and these are my favorites (in order of how much I love them):

1. Hydro Flask

Hydro flask is my favorite reusable water bottle by far. It is not only stainless steel and BPA free, but it is also vacuum sealed and insulated so it is incredible at regulating temperature. I was shocked that it could keep my ice water cold for 24 hours (with ice still floating in it!) and coffee or tea hot for 12 hours.

I have both a wide mouth water bottle and a smaller bottle for hot drinks and I use them both all the time. The only downside? Due to the vacuum sealed insulated layer, these can’t be put in the dishwasher.

2. Lifefactory Glass Bottle

This lifefactory glass bottle is another favorite, but it doesn’t insulate as well as the Hydro Flask and some others. It is dishwasher safe, which is a big plus. I don’t trust the glass as much when I’m with my children, but if I’m on my own, I love this bottle and it doesn’t leak.

3. Klean Kanteen

The original reusable water bottle that I tried and liked enough to get one for everyone on my Christmas list that year. I still love my basic steel Klean Kanteen, though it is not insulated and does not keep drinks hot or cold. Also, if you pour really hot drinks in it, prepare to burn your hand. The upside? You can boil water in it while camping and it can turn iced tea into hot tea if left in the car on a warm day (experience talking).

I still love my Klean, and they are a budget friendly reusable option.

4. Cayman Insulated Water Bottle

The Cayman only comes in one size that I’ve found (about 17 ounces) which makes it a little small for what I prefer in a water bottle. Like the Hydro Flask, it keeps liquids hot or cold for at least 12 hours. It does fit in regular cup holders, which makes it great for taking in the car or on the side of my backpack while traveling and I often prefer this one if I’m on the road.

If you haven’t already, please consider making the switch to one of these alternatives to plastic water bottles (and replace your plastic bags while you are at it!). The convenience of plastic isn’t worth the consequences for our health or the environment.

What kind of water bottle do you use?

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Reader Comments

  1. I use glass, I have a keen canteen and BPA free travel bottles my sister bought me.
    We have reusable grocery bags and recycle all our plastic.

  2. I don’t like drinking from plastic water bottles or using them so I’ve been pouring my own filtered water into empty Honest Tea jars ( for the last few years as they are the perfect size. I just wash them out and tote them in my purse and carry them everywhere. Also, stainless steel does contain some nickel, so if you’re allergic to that you probably want to use glass.

  3. I use a quart-size mason jar! It’s a great way to regulate my water intake–all I have to do is drink 4 of them a day and I know I am drinking enough water. I also like to make a “lemonade” drink in it with fresh-squeezed lemon, raw honey, turmeric, and ginger.

    When I have hot coffee in the am I use either the 2.5 pint or 1 pint (either wide or regular mouth) with a beer cozy….works like a charm.

    Ball also makes a cap adapter with a straw that I use a lot. It’s made of plastic still which sucks but it’s BPA free and reusable, plus it’s a lot less plastic than I would be using otherwise, even with a Nalgene.

    I also use ReCap–also plastic but BPA free, reusable, and supporting a small business that is all USA-produced!!

    • I bought stainless steel reusable straws and love them.

      • I gave straws from glass dharma. Love them#!!!!!

    • Thank you…great ideas!

  4. Which is worse the flouride in tap water or buying spring water plastic bottles? I can’t afford a nice water filtration system, so I’ve been drinking plastic bottled spring water. It seems like getting water in giant glass containers might take up a lot of space also, which is an issue for me.

    • I was doing the same because I didn’t like my well water. Then I found a local water company that delivers in 5 gal container from a local spring. The cooler is $7.95 a month to rent and each 5 gal is $5.50… I absolutely love the water. I was spending just as much on bottled water, now were just eliminating all the plastic bottles.

  5. We use Contigos which we get at Costco for about $13-15 CND, depending on the size. Same concept as Hydros, though not as big and a fraction of the cost. I rarely find I need to haul a huge quantity of water around, but I like my water cold, so I fill the Contigo with ice and top up with water throughout the day. Ice stays for 15+ hours (never tried for longer). If I need more water, I bring along a mason jar of just water and add it to my ice—uses less energy to make something cold than to keep it cold.
    A slightly unrelated aside: I never used to like ice water but now I can’t get enough of it. I think the difference is that cold used to hurt my teeth. Why aren’t my teeth temperature sensitive anymore? Using homemade toothpaste! I use a few different recipes, but bottom line is that HM toothpaste is better for me than Sensodyne! I haven’t felt a single twinge since I started using it.

  6. Can u recommend any Walter filters that I can fill up our water bottles with since I am not comfortable or feel safe using our spice water?

  7. I’ve had a pretty good run with my Flaska. They run a little expensive, but they’re built to last.

  8. I will switch to the metal flask you suggest to substitute my grandkids’ sippy cups!

    I quit drinking from plastic water bottles years ago, but the plastic water bottles we use on our water cooler bother me. The glass alternatives are way too heavy . I wish I could figure that one out.

    Love your articles.

  9. I am a “cheapo.” I use previously used glass bottles (16 oz from juice concentrate, 32 oz from Bragg’s ACV). The small glass bottle from Dr. Enuff is great to carry in your handbag. They are not insulated, but I really don’t need for my water to be kept cold. I also have a favorite glass that I sip on around the house and a glass mug for my coffee.

  10. What about the Tritian water bottles? I just ordered one and now I am wondering if that was a good choice.

  11. I completely agree with this and can not stand to drink out of plastic any more. But six of us will be in a place for three days where we have to bring our own drinking water. The only thing I can think of to do is purchase the gallon size plastic containers of water. Does anyone know of any better suggestions or at least of the safest choice of water-in-container to purchase? (We do not have and can not afford enough alternative water bottles to fill and bring.)

  12. We have several insulated Klean Kanteen bottles that are great! They keep your cold drinks ice cold for up to 24 hours and won’t burn your hands with hot drinks. Just make sure to get the insulated bottles…

  13. Klean kanteen DOES make an insulated water bottle and it’s my most favorite beverage container!!!

  14. When I was a ten years old in 1975 my parents came home with hundreds of pounds of this plastic substance that was to be melted down and made into stuff. They told me that everything was going to change and that the containers, glasses, bags, household items were going to change and that within a few years they would be replaced with plastic. “You’re crazy”, I said. But that crazy idea stayed with me for weeks. I thought, what a dramatic shift that would be; a change so big it seemed impossible. I remember walking down the aisles at the grocery and looking at all the glass jars of Coke, Mayonnaise, Ketchup, peanut butter. I thought, what a huge job it would be to change all this to plastic. The thought of it actually overwhelmed me and is one of my most vivid childhood memories. And then it all came true.
    Thanks for a great post.

  15. I find it difficult to eliminate using plastic bags for garbage, what are you all using?

  16. Great suggestions! I’m curious about what you buy for your kids to use?

    • We have several Klean Kanteens the kids use…

  17. Are there any refrigerator water filters that filter out a lot of the chemicals etc in water?

  18. How do you feel about the stainless camelbak??? Is it good or not?

    • I haven’t tried it so I can’t say…

  19. Thank you, Katie for all of your hard work you do in getting amazing information to us. I appreciate it so much.
    Any chamce you will do a podcast on plastic water bottle water?

  20. I’ve used Kleen Kanteens for 12 years. I bought the little one with a sippy attachment when my daughter was moving about! They are very nice and durable and actually do keep water cool in the stainless bottle. I bought an Eco Vessel Insulated bottle last Christmas and absolutely LOVE this one. It keeps my water cold, allows for a hot tea/coffee option and has a perfect spout for sipping. Sometimes the Kleen mouth spills all over me, especially in the car (if I’m not driving!) HA! We rarely (if ever) leave the house without our canteens….one for each of us!

  21. I have a hard time enjoying drinks from stainless steel and dishwasher safe is a must for me. i have a few bkr glass bottles with the silicone sleeve that are adorable but sadly not totally functional. The opening is small and therefor hard to clean or fit ice into (they sell their own mold) if you are so inclined. I still use them just not all the time. I LOVE the huge voss bottles and reuse those, or else I like to reuse the kombucha bottles (haven’t started making my own yet but I really want to!), or reuse the glass bottles from the juice bar I visit sometimes.

  22. I use Lifefactory’s glass water bottle. It is easy to carry and it works for me.

  23. I’m definitely on board with using a non plastic water bottle, but I haven’t been able to find any non plastic options that offer any on the go filtering. I’ve been using a portable Brita bottle and I’d like to switch, but I don’t trust the sources of water available at various stops where I might need a refill. Does anyone have a solution for this? Charcoal sticks seem like they might be a good alternative but with the amount of water refills necessary to stay hydrated in Arizona on a bike in the summer doesn’t really allow for it to soak in each batch for hours on end.

    • The Berkey sport bottle has the same filtration as the berkey water filters and is reasonably priced. They can be gotten for 15.00-30.00 depending on where you buy them.

  24. How do you get filtered ice? I have a hydro flask and the berkey filtration system but you can’t put either in the freezer. Do you have some sort of filter in your fridge and just use the ice from the ice maker or do you know of a bpa free ice cube tray?

    • We have a whole house water filtration system that filters the ice in the freezer…

  25. I know this post is old, but in the hopes of helping someone I want to add that, in my house, we use Snapple bottles filled with our reverse osmosis water. After a few months the caps tend to wear out, but for $4.00 per 6 pack, you can’t beat it.

    • I use mostly old Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar Qt bottles around the house. I also have a quilted cover that fits that I use for limited travel. I also like the 16 oz glass bottles from juice concentrate. These bottles are a free benefit. When I need to keep something hot or cold, I have a stainless bottle from Glacier Point – bought on Amazon.

      I still need a plastic alternative for longer travel. I don’t like to buy bottled water when we travel. I usually fill 6 to 8 2-liter plastic bottles to take, but I don’t like using the plastic. I am afraid glass would be too heavy. any suggestions?

  26. We love Ello glass water bottles.

  27. I use S’Well !

  28. I’ve been using a glass water bottle for years now but realized that it probably doesn’t even matter because I am getting my water out of a plastic jug water cooler at work (where I drink the majority of my 8 cups a day) and at home I’m getting it from our Brita filter.

    We can’t afford to change our water filter at home and since the most water I drink is at work and I can’t do anything about that, do you have any suggestions? Are there any filters you can buy to put in glass or steel water bottles? I found one (very expensive) steel bottle on Amazon but it’s very hard to use – you have to put the tap water in first, then press another bottle down on top of it.

    Thanks in advance! 🙂

  29. If I find that I need to buy a bottle of water because I forgot my water bottle at home, I try to reuse the bottle as many times as possible before I put it in recycling. Many times though, I’ll fill it with water and put it in the freezer to use as a cold pack in my lunch box or in my cooler. On top of it, I automatically have an extra bottle of water with my lunch! lol

    I’m not a hoarder by any means. I do like my stuff of course but I’m always mindful and try to reuse stuff as much as possible, recycle as much as possible. If it’s not of any use to me, I’ll donate it to savers or ask around my apartment complex to see if any one needs what I’m getting rid of. If it’s broken, I’ll try to fix it.

  30. I hate buying bottled water but I’m having a hard time finding a water filter. The tap water in my area has high levels of lead, arsenic, apa, radon, and perchlorate. I’d really appreciate any suggestions because I’m finding myself between a rock and a hard place, either destroy the environment one bottle at a time or drink tap water that will eventually negatively impact my health.

  31. So wonderful to see this essential dietary information, with the nutritional status most important (as opposed to the calorific). I use a beer bottle for my water. One of the glass ones that has a resealable fastener on the top. Someone else drank the beer!

  32. I am still looking for a solution for traveling. Now, I take several qt glass bottles, but they are way too heavy to take enough to last several days. So I wind up taking 2L plastic soda bottles because they are not heavy. I fill them from my water filter before we leave home.