Drinking Plastic

A couple of years ago I made a decision to stop drinking from plastic bottles, all plastic bottles. The results of which may surprise you.

First Things First

Plastic is a derivative of crude oil, combined with chemicals such as plasticisers or BPA to help make the material more stable, transparent or stronger. When our food or drink comes into contact with plastic, small amounts of these chemicals leach out and are consumed by us. If the plastic is exposed to heat or sunlight the leaching is much worse.

It is estimated that over 90% of Americans now have some level of BPA in their system.

Chemicals from plastics are implicated as a possible cause of genital deformities in men, early puberty in women, and developmental problems in the very young; it might also contribute to metabolic disorders like obesity as well as certain cancers.

BPA Free

A lot of people are aware of the issues with plastic and opt for BPA free products. Unfortunately, BPA-free does not mean chemical free. New reports are now making it clear that BPA-free plastics still carry harmful chemicals with serious implications.

The Challenge – Stop Drinking Plastic

I live in Asia and it is really hot. 34C° with 90% humidity hot, which means I need to drink a lot of fluids. Added to this is the fact that it isn’t recommended to drink water from the taps, unless you enjoy Asian bathrooms!

It is here is where I decided to stop using plastic bottles and cups to drink from. Tough challenge!

Step 1

This was pretty easy, buy a stainless steel water bottle and fill it up at home from my water filter. Then I would have water all day…until it ran out.

It turns out that having your water run out is a pretty easy problem to solve! In most of the Countries I have visited, filter water is available for free in restaurants, bars or hotels, just go and ask. Here in Taiwan the local police stations always have free chilled water, as do libraries, airports, bus stations and so on. There are countless places to fill up your water if you just have a look.

Step 2

There are occasions when I leave without a water bottle and find myself in need of a drink. At times like these I have a kind of list that I run through in my head to help me decide.

  1. First option, look for a restaurant or cafe that serves drinks in a ceramic cup or glass and sit down for a drink.
  2. If I am on the move I will always opt for glass bottles or aluminium cans. Glass bottles are best as aluminium cans still have a plastic lining but at least are not affected by sunlight. Glass and aluminium are also 100% recyclable, unlike plastic.
  3. If there are only plastic bottles or cups on offer then I simply say no. As far as I know, no-one ever died of dehydration waiting an hour or so longer between drinks.

The Surprising Benefits of Not Drinking Plastic

The most obvious are the health benefits and the reduction in plastic pollution. However, there are a few more benefits that may surprise you.

  1. You will lose weight – The majority of drinks sold in plastic bottles are high sugar soda drinks. If you avoid these then you will avoid all the sugar too.
  2. Less trips to the dentist – Less sugary drinks means healthier teeth.
  3. You will get rich – By refusing to drink out of plastic bottles you limit how and when you can get a drink, saving money in the process.
  4. Make friends – Stop always being on the go, rushing around in a mad frenzy. Instead, take some time to stop for a drink and you may end up chatting to other people around you, making new friends in the process.

One More Thing

If you absolutely must drink from a plastic bottle or cup then make sure it has not been exposed to heat (think coffee cups) or sunlight (Think that water bottle left in the sun all day). Exposure to sunlight and heat accelerates the chemical leaching process increasing your exposure and the risks associated.


For more ways to reduce your eco-footprint, check out the One Brown Planet sustainable toolkit.