the rise of giant reusable water bottles

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With recent scorching temperatures forming an undeniable illustration of the climate crisis, consumption habits have been marked by a concomitant interest in sustainability-related items. Among the most popular eco-friendly accessories is the reusable water bottle. This summer, the bigger and more motivational your bottle, the better.

In 2021, the global reusable water bottle market was valued at $8.64 billion. An increase of 4.3% is expected in 2022.

Several factors are at play, including a return to work, along with a heightened concern about plastic pollution and its potential to leach into water and food. Research shows that 75% of adults in the UK are concerned about the impact of the climate crisis.

Among the 2022 success stories is Hydroflask, a Gen Z favorite, whose 1.8-liter stainless steel bottles have contributed to a 19% sales increase since last year. Best-selling “gorpcore” brand Nalgene, whose 909ml bottles are made from BPA-free plastic, is widely considered the bag for life for reusable bottles. While the company did not release sales figures, Elissa McGee, general manager at Nalgene, says she has seen “persistent demand since the pandemic, as daily routines and travel return to more conventional patterns.”

The Hydrojug, another BPA-free unbreakable mug that comes with a neoprene sleeve, has people carrying a whopping 2 liters of water and became famous after its appearance on Big Timber, a Netflix reality show about a Canadian sawmill. By comparison, the diminutive 1.1-liter stainless steel Adventure Quencher Travel Tumbler, made by the venerable American brand Stanley, which specializes in camping gear, often sells out in the US (it reportedly has a waiting list of 135,000).

Never slow to ride a trend, Khloe Kardashian is known for favoring her two-liter pitcher — some of which come with conscious statements scrawled on the side to encourage you to drink.

The rise in popularity of these reusable containers has also brought water bottles that come with apps that track your intake and punish you when you miss your goal, as well as smart bottles that cost £180 to keep your tea hot (as used by Rishi Sunak) , these rainbow-hued bottles have turned hydration into a competitive sport.

City to Sea, a Bristol-based non-profit that campaigns to prevent marine plastic pollution at source, has overseen the placement of 35,000 refillable water stations at stations, airports and beaches this year, an increase of 10,000 compared to 2019.

Founder Natalie Fee thinks the rise in huge refillable bottles has as much to do with the recession as it does the weather. “Despite an obvious drop during the pandemic [we have since seen] a huge increase in heat wave awareness – from a health and hydration perspective, [but also] of a cost of living.” Fee says the large bottles “are a little weird, but I can see why this is happening.”

In recent years, the status water bottle – stainless steel, BPA-free plastic or made from partially recycled materials and rendered in sweet color tones – has become the symbol of green credentials among young people. Eager to capitalize on the green pound, high-profile brands have followed suit – Prada’s £75 “milk urn” remains one of the most popular reusable water repositories on the market. Simply put, “the message is if you carry a reusable bottle you care,” says Nina Schrank, head of Greenpeace’s plastics campaign. “It helps if they look good, aesthetically. People will be more inclined to carry them.”

But despite renewed interest in bottles made from materials such as stainless steel, global use of plastic is expected to increase by nearly 4% by 2030.

Schrank is alarmed that plastic remains the dominant material. The health effects of BPA-free plastic, widely used in refillable water bottles, remain open to debate on body health and the environment.

“Reusable stainless steel bottles are the best material and while they are becoming more common, they are still not replacing plastic ones,” she adds, agreeing that cost is also a factor – plastic will always be cheaper than plastic. Prada. “What we want is for plastic bottles to become taboo – like smoking.”

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