Single-Use Water Bottle Alternatives So You Can Ditch Plastic for Good
If you forget your reusable water bottle, don't go straight to plastic — these sustainable alternatives are just as convenient.
The Jonas Brothers know it best — they’ve been to the year 3000, and guess what? That plastic water bottle you just tossed is still hangin’ around in a landfill somewhere. That’s not really the future we imagined them finding, is it? According to a 2017 article from The Guardian, every minute, an astonishing ONE MILLION single-use plastic bottles are cracked open so we can take a convenient swig of water. And how many of those make it to the recycling bin? Just 9%. Yep, that’s right, over 90 percent of plastic water bottles are not recycled as reported by National Geographic. They end up in landfills, in ditches, waterways and, worst of all, in our oceans. We’ve heard this before — so many times — but what the heck are we doing about it? Thankfully, ditching convenience to live a plastic-free lifestyle, or at least attempting to, is en vogue. Startups and established companies are working to come up with single-use alternatives that are just as convenient as plastic, without the worry of waste.
Of the plastic packaging alternatives, canned water seems to be at the forefront of innovation. Consumers are nearly twice as likely to recycle aluminum than they are plastic, and it’s said to be infinitely recyclable, unlike plastic, which can only be recycled a few times before it’s deemed unusable. In fact, 75% of aluminum that’s ever been produced is still being used today, according to The Aluminum Association.
Even celebrities are jumping in. Actor Jason Momoa is spearheading his own campaign to erase plastic from oceans, landfills and fridges with the company Mananalu, which will launch sales in September. (The name is derived from two Hawaiian words: Mana, meaning the sacred spirit of life, and Nalu, a powerful wave.) Mananalu offers four varieties of canned water: still, sparkling, alkaline and spring water, and claims that if the can is recycled it’ll be back on the shelf within 60 days. In an ad, Jason takes a sip and says, “It’s just water, but I feel good about it.”
We see lots of canned water during emergencies — hurricanes, earthquakes or anything that cuts off water supply to a large area means big companies such as Budweiser begin to pump out thousands of units of canned water in lieu of beer to aid in disaster relief. But why not use these on a regular basis? Maybe it’s because a traditional pop top can’t be resealed… until now! Several companies, such as CanO Water and Aristos Beverages have added resealable tops to their cans, meaning you don’t have to down it in one drink, and you can fill it up again when you’re done. Unfortunately, some of these brands either aren’t shipping to the United States yet or are only sold in stores, but other cans of water, including Open Canned Water and Blue Can premium canned water are more readily available.
Boxed wine is making a comeback in a major way, so why not water, too? Not only is this option 100% recyclable, the company Boxed Water says their production process costs less to ship and has a smaller carbon footprint compared to plastic. The company has been making its sustainable mark on the industry for over a decade, selling in cities all over the U.S. at stores such as Whole Foods and has even been the official water sponsor of Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits. And though it does have a tiny bit of plastic (the cap) it’s still recyclable.
Other companies such as Flow Hydration offer flavored boxed waters. Once your thirst has been quenched, you can rest easy knowing that their recycled used cartons can be converted into writing paper, tissue paper, paper towels, roof tiles and other paper-based products and building materials.
Recyclable is one thing, but what about edible? Since 2014, Skipping Rocks Lab, a London based start-up, has been working toward packaging water and other liquids in pods they called “Ooho!” These single-sip pods are edible and biodegrade in a matter of weeks or days instead of the centuries it takes for plastic and other materials. This year, over 200,000 plastic water bottles were replaced with seaweed pods at the London Marathon. These pods are net zero waste — they can be eaten or will biodegrade in four to six weeks if the casing is discarded. Skipping Rocks Lab has also had success filling the pods with alcoholic drinks and using them as an alternative to plastic packaging for condiments. Though these pods are small, they’re tackling a mighty problem.