the rise of giant reusable water bottles

the rise of giant reusable water bottles

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With recent scorching temperatures providing an undeniable example of the climate crisis, consumer habits are shaped by an accompanying interest in sustainability-related items. One of the most popular eco-accessories is the reusable water bottle. The bigger and more motivating your bottle, the better.

In 2021, the global reusable water bottle market was valued at US$8.64 billion. This is expected to increase by 4.3% in 2022.

A number of factors are at play, including the return to the workplace combined with heightened concerns about plastic pollution and its potential to enter water and food. Research shows that 75% of UK adults are concerned about the impact of the climate crisis.

Among the 2022 success stories is Hydroflask, a Gen Z favorite whose 1.8L stainless steel bottles have helped boost sales by 19% since last year. Bestselling “Gorpcore” Nalgene brand, whose 909ml bottles are made from BPA-free plastic, is widely recognized as the lifelong pouch for reusable bottles. Though the company couldn’t disclose sales numbers, Nalgene general manager Elissa McGee says they’ve seen “sustained demand since the pandemic as daily routines and travel return to more conventional patterns.”

Another BPA-free, shatterproof jug that comes with a neoprene sleeve, the Hydrojug has people carrying around a whopping 2 liters of water and became popular on Netflix after appearing in Big Timber, a reality TV series on Netflix Canadian lumberyard, famous. By comparison, the tiny, 1.1-liter, stainless-steel Adventure Quencher Travel Tumbler from venerable US camping-gear-specializing brand Stanley routinely sells out in the US (there’s a reported 135,000 waitlist).

Never slow to ride a trend, Khloe Kardashian is known for favoring her 2-liter reusable jugs – some of which have mindful affirmations scrawled on the side to encourage you to drink.

The surge in popularity of these reusable vessels has also spawned water bottles that come with companion apps that monitor your intake and penalize you if you miss your target, as well as smart bottles costing £180 to keep your tea warm (like used by Rishi Sunak), these rainbow colored bottles have turned drinking into a competitive sport.

City to Sea, a Bristol-based non-profit working to stop plastic sea pollution at its source, has overseen the placement of 35,000 refillable water stations at train stations, airports and beaches this year, an increase of 10,000 from 2019 .

Founder Natalie Fee believes the rise in giant refillable bottles has as much to do with the recession as it does with the climate. “Despite an apparent slump during the pandemic [we have since seen] an enormous awareness of the heat wave – from a health and hydration point of view, [but also] from the cost of living.” Fee says the large bottles are “a bit strange, but I can see why that happens”.

In recent years, the Status water bottle – made from stainless steel, BPA-free plastic or partly recycled materials and finished in candy-colored hues – has become a brand of eco-certification among young people. High-end brands looking to capitalize on the green pound followed suit – Prada’s 75-pound ‘milk urn’ remains one of the most popular reusable water containers on the market. Put simply, “The message is, if you’re carrying a reusable bottle, you care,” says Nina Wardrobe, Greenpeace’s plastic campaign director. “It helps if they look good aesthetically. People will be more inclined to carry them around.”

But despite renewed interest in bottles made from materials like stainless steel, global plastic consumption is projected to increase by almost 4% by 2030.

Wardrobe is alarmed that plastic remains the dominant material. The health impacts of BPA-free plastic, which is widely used in refillable water bottles, remain open to debate in terms of physical health and the environment.

“Returnable bottles made of stainless steel are the best material, and while they’re becoming more common, they’re not displacing plastic bottles yet,” she adds, agreeing that cost is a factor too – plastic will always be cheaper than Prada. “What we want is for plastic bottles to be a little bit taboo – like smoking.”

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