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Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, A Step Toward Green Living - Bottled Water vs. Reusable Water Bottles

Updated on October 8, 2015

The 3 Rs - Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle

Sustainability. Green living. Recycling. These are all buzz words in today's culture, and our efforts to keep the earth thriving. Many of us focus on recycling, we carefully keep paper separate from trash, and make sure to save those cans and bottles and get back our nickel deposit. But think back to elementary school. Do you remember learning about recycling? Do you remember that 3 arrowed recycling symbol?

The 3 Rs stand for reduce, reuse and recycle. Today many of us focus only on recycle, and forget the other two Rs altogether. But it is important to remember that all three are necessary in order to live more sustainably, and can help you live frugally as well! There is a good reason why recycle is the last of the three Rs.

Bottled Water - A Case Study in Reducing, Reusing, and Recycling

Think of water bottles -- did you drink a bottle of Dasani or Poland Springs this morning? Both companies make their bottles from recycled materials, and it important that you recycle the bottle when you're done with it. But what if instead of recycling so many bottles, you simply reduced the number you purchased in the first place? What if instead of regularly recycling these bottles, you bought a bottle you could reuse on a regular basis?

What would the benefits of choosing to reduce and reuse instead of recycle when it comes to water look like?

*You could save money - this is especially true if you regularly buy individual bottled waters at the gas station, c-store, bodega etc.
*You can help reduce oil consumption - Ecofriendlymag reports that according to the Earth Policy Institute more than 15 million barrels of oil are used annually to produce water bottles, and production leaks lots of chemicals in the air!
*You can be health conscious - many people buy bottled water because they think it is healthier but this really isn't true. US tap water is regulated and generally safe to drink. Remember - not all bottled water is spring water, a lot of it is simply filtered tap water from your local area.
*You can avoid chemicals - Ever reuse your disposable water bottle? Leave it in the car on a hot sunny day? Both of these are big no-nos, and can lead to chemicals from the bottles plastic leaking into your water.
*You can convince your kids to drink more water - Buy your kids a stylish reusable water bottle of their own and convince them to drink more water, instead of sugary juices and soft drinks.

Reusable vs. Disposable

Do you go for reusable bottles or disposable?

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    • profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Well it sounds like you're still doing lots of recycling even if it is a "new" word for you. :) I must admit I am not the best at having my reusables with me lately!

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 

      4 years ago from San Francisco

      I chuckled when you mentioned harking back to elementary school where we first saw the green recycling symbol. When I was in grade school, the word recycling hadn't been coined yet, never mind a symbol!

      Good suggestion about the water bottles. Yes, indeed, I pack a reusable water bottle everywhere I go and quite often a reusable coffee mug too. I just hate being caught in a coffee line without one.

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Great point Victoria - in addition to the wastefulness from a recycling perspective definitely a waste financially as well. Especially for the lucky folks like me with a well!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      4 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      I don't believe in paying for water! If I need water, I use a bottle I already have. Paying for bottled water and then having to get rid of the plastic is a total waste. Great reminder in this hub!

    • carter06 profile image


      5 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      I have to say I am guilty of using plastic more than I should but reuse it by filling it from my fridge water/ice maker! Def use a reusable as well! Great hub ElleBee & super reminder to do all we can to be green..I'm personally working on the reduce R these days..

      VUUAI & will tweet this one..cheers

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      I agree whole heartedly, though I admit I am terrible at remembering to bring mine places and even worse about forgetting it once its there - i'm pretty sure my bottle is currently sitting beside my computer at work. Oops.

    • DeborahNeyens profile image

      Deborah Neyens 

      5 years ago from Iowa

      Great hub! I try to avoid bottled water as much as possible. Tap water in my reusable bottle is just fine.

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      Thanks Thelma and Rebecca, I'm glad you both enjoyed and found it useful.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      5 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Wonderful thought on reuse, reduce and recycle.Thanks for sharing these awesome tips. I hope lots of readers see this and take heed to help save the planet.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      5 years ago from Germany

      I use reusable bottles as often as I can. Thanks for sharing this useful and informative hub. Have a great day!

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago

      @Letitia - Sorry it took me so long to reply to your comment. Very true that the transport of the water is wasteful as well, that's an aspect I hadn't thought of as much. Brita filters are great! I used to have one, but we have a well now so our water's great and we don't need the filter :)

    • LetitiaFT profile image


      6 years ago from Paris via California

      Excellent advice, for environment and for the individual. I use Brita filters for my home drinking water. I have to admit I'll drink bottled water when I'm out, but I'm trying to break the habit. It's not only the bottles, be they plastic or glass, but the transport of bottled water which is hugely wasteful.

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Very interesting zionsphere! I had never heard that before, and it is definitely a great reason in favor of tap water and reusable bottles/glasses.

    • zionsphere profile image


      6 years ago from Oregon

      I recently saw a study that showed bottled water is high in acid content, and that even with it's impurities, tap water is actually the healthier choice. That helped me reduce a LOT! Washable glasses are perfect :)

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Thanks ishwaryaa - I'm glad you found this useful. Yes focusing on reducing and reusing first definitely helps us live more economically AND more ecologically friendly.

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 

      6 years ago from Chennai, India

      A helpful hub with sensible suggestions! I agree with you that the first 2 Rs should be put first before the last R so that we live more economically.

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful & Interesting. Voted up

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      The refillable coolers are great! One of my roomates in college had one, we were able to save bottles and money too , we just brought the bottle to my house and filled it up w/ tap water from my kitchen (unlike our campus, the water at my house tasted good and wasn't super chlorinated).

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      6 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Fantastic recommendation. I am always for any tips and ideas to help Mother Nature. We use a refillable watercooler. Each week we bring it back to the beverage center and replace it with a clean barrel of water.

      Great hub.

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      That makes sense Millionare! I also go for tap water when I'm home, but often have bottled when I'm on the go. Be careful of refilling disposable bottles too many times! Some of them have BPA an other harmful chemicals - if you drink water a lot may be worth investing in a reusable bottle.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      6 years ago from USA

      This is a great reminder for people to remember the reduce and reuse part of the equation. I drink tap water, but will take the bottles to work, which I refill.

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @Leann - Yes this is definitely an ongoing struggle for me as well, I'm definitely trying to be better at reusing. I keep reminding myself it will also save me a lot of money, if I bring my reusable bottle along instead of buying a drink in the convenience store all the time :). Sometimes money is a good motivator, even if I know there are other - perhaps better - reasons.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      These are all wonderful ideas. I really need to be more disciplined about recycling bottles. I have to admit it is easier to recycle cans when I am being paid for it...even just pennies but it takes so much time and there is so little immediate reward that I struggle with other resources.

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @Mama Kim and Peggy W thanks for the comments. And yes Peggy reusing all of those containers is definitely important! I reuse a lot of them for things like bringing my lunch to work etc. My mom gave the little mini yogurt cups to us with snacks in them all the time as kids - we were reusing instead of creating trash, and she didn't have to worry too much if they didn't make it home like she would with an expensive container.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      6 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Reusing all of those plastic containers that we purchase is just as important (or even more so!) than recycling them. When I give food away to people who may be ill (as an example) I always send it in containers that most people would have only used once and then discarded. Example...large yogurt containers or cottage cheese containers that have good lids can be kept and reused for such purposes. I tell the recipient to then recycle on their end instead of having to keep track of the container and return it to me. I routinely refill my water bottle with tap water. Good hub! Up and useful votes!

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 

      6 years ago

      Fantastic reminder ^_^ Sometimes we forget that its not about cleaning up after ourselves but rather not making the messes in the first place. voted up and shared!

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      That is very true! I have definitely lost the lid from a few of mine. I have one of the metal ones with the lid attached to a caribener hook and find I loose my cap less because I can attach it right to my bag.

    • prairieprincess profile image

      Sharilee Swaity 

      6 years ago from Canada

      Elle, this is a good reminder! I do use both. Around the house, we try to just use our filtered water, but when going out, I am often guilty of grabbing a disposable bottle. To be honest, the problem is often losing the lids on those reusable bottles and then not buying new ones. Silly, isn't it?

    • profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Yes, I definitely am guilty of using many a disposable bottle myself, but I am trying to improve on this! I started by making the "rule" for myself that I don't drink bottled water at home. I still often end up grabbing a bottle in the bodega at lunchtime, but overall I'm being more conscious on my consumption. I couldn't find a source to cite on it, but I remember in college learning once that the amount of money spent on bottled water in the US each year would be enough to purify all the natural drinking supplies in the world! That's a lot of money when you consider must people in the States have access to safe water, and the bottled stuff is really a luxury.

    • Redberry Sky profile image

      Redberry Sky 

      6 years ago

      Good reminder that it's not all about recycling, Elle - I buy far too much water in disposable bottles, when I could save quite a lot of money filling a re-useable one with tap water! Good idea :)


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