BYORB: Bring Your Own (Reusable) Bottle

by: JanF

Mon Jan 14, 2013 at 12:34:09 PM EST

Today is the first day in a ban on on-campus sales of bottled water at the University of Vermont.
When students at the University of Vermont resume classes on the snow-covered Burlington campus Monday, something will be missing: bottled water. UVM is the latest university to ban on-campus sales of bottled water.
JanF :: BYORB: Bring Your Own (Reusable) Bottle
At UVM, students can get water for their reusable bottles at specially designed campus fill-up locations. The ban was the result of a campaign started by former student Mikayla McDonald to not only reduce waste but to protect our natural resources:

"Bottled water is a symbol of our culture's obsession with commodifying things that should be public trust resources," she says.

(The web site Ban the Bottle has more information about bans that are in effect and planned).

One unintentional landfill created by plastic dumping is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch:

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also described as the Pacific Trash Vortex, is a gyre of marine litter in the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135°W to 155°W and 35°N and 42°N. The patch extends over an indeterminate area, with estimates ranging very widely depending on the degree of plastic concentration used to define the affected area.

The Patch is characterized by exceptionally high concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge, and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre.

According to an article from the University of Melbourne, 90% of the debris is plastic:

There are five major gyres in the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific oceans, each with their own floating mats of rubbish, but it is expected that many more of these litter flotillas occur in smaller current systems across the world.

● At least 80% of this rubbish originates on land, washing out to sea via stormwater drains or from landfill located near the sea. The rest is discarded from ships and oil platforms.
● 90% of the debris is plastic.

American marine and atmospheric scientists predicted the presence of these swirling vortexes of rubbish in 1988. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was discovered in 1997 by oceanographer Captain Charles Moore, who came across by accident it while travelling home from a TransPacific yacht race. Moore remarked that he sailed through the floating rubbish for more than a week.

In a not-at-all-unexpected development, some people see bans on plastic bottles as a direct assault on their liberties ("Patrick Henry!!!1!!"). Regarding a ban being promoted for Concord MA:

The ban is the result of the efforts of Jean Hill, an 85-year-old Concord grandmother who took up the campaign to ban plastic water bottles after hearing of "floating islands of plastic as big as the United States" in the Pacific Ocean.[...]

Truth be told, Hill sounds more like the British, telling us what to drink -- and what to drink it out of. She was finally able to vanquish the enemy -- the dreaded plastic bottle -- at Town Meeting after twice seeing it go down to defeat.

"People should have the freedom to buy a legal product in the town they live in," group member Robin Garrison, has been quoted as saying.

Patrick Henry couldn't have said it better.

(I hope that is snark ... but I fear that it is not).

Here is what I use, purchased for $9 at my local Shopko:

● Single wall, BPA-free cold beverage bottle
● Leak-proof sealing lid
● Twist body to add ice cubs, lemons or limes
● Soft grip body
● Trendy colored grip
● 16.9-oz. capacity

BPA-free? Check.
Leak-proof? Check.
Comfortable grip? Check.
Blue? Check.
Trendy? Checkity check check check.

And for the record, destroying our common planet is NOT your unalienable right, Mr. GiveMePlasticBottlesOrGiveMeDeath.

It is actually our moral obligation to protect the environment and give future generations a safe and healthy place to live.  

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We only have one planet. (2.00 / 18)
That is a BHD.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

I now live in a green condo building (2.00 / 11)
I'm very much enjoying the high level of attention amongst my neighbors with respect to protecting our environment. Since I moved here, I'm astounded by how much of my trash I've been able to commit to recycling - approximately 3/4 overall!! One of the keys is exactly what your diary is about - plastic.

I like JanF's bottle but I haven't run across anything like it either in Missouri (2.00 / 10)
or Colorado.  I'll do a google search.  When traveling, most recently between Columbia and Colorado Springs, a 12 hour drive which I make non-stop, I buy 2 bottles of water.  I freeze one to put in the cooler and the other to sip on during the drive.  The frozen one gets thawed and lives in the frig getting refilled repeatedly.  The tired-out bottle ends up in a recycling bin at one of the local organic food stores.

"I base most of my fashion sense on whether or not it itches"  -- Gilda Radner

Here in NJ, (2.00 / 11)
the legislature was talking about banning plastic bags, or adding a charge per bag like 5 cents.  Cue the whining from the usual suspects; no idea if it'll actually pass.  I hope it does, since similar bans have been shown to reduce waste in the towns that enacted them.  Personally, I've been using Flip and Tumble bags for the last month or so, and they're really good - fold up small for carrying (easy to always keep one in a pocket), hold up well to washing (unlike many of the store reuseable bags), and I haven't touched plastic bags since I started using them.  win-win-win.

I'm not convinced on the bag issue. (2.00 / 6)
Doing a quick google to see what is being said doesn't help, either. I can find a lot of sites on the Pros and Cons of banning (Pros: I love the planet, Cons: why do you hate the planet?) but not a lot of actual data. If anyone has any I'd appreciate seeing it.

Last I have looked paper bags are a bit of an environmental nightmare: consuming massive resources/per use; single-use moreso than plastic (plastic bags are used as garbage bags, pooper-scoopers etc that would otherwise be purchased); higher shipping fuel costs;...

Reusable bags are OK if you: carry enough around with you for an unknown quantity of shopping and wash them every time to keep the e-coli down, but require much higher resource to create and ship.

Like a lot of issues, the instinct to 'do the right thing' may or may not lead to doing the actual right thing. How that gets worked out to end up with an actual correct decision that makes the intended benefit is still to my knowledge to be determined.

I had seen an interview last year with the NJ woman who began the whole movement, who said she had since switched sides.

Anyone have a good source of unbiased data?

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
I'm trying to remember where I heard (2.00 / 6)
the waste reduction statistics.  Might have been on Thom Hartmann's program, but maybe not; could have been local radio or Rachel's show or something like that.  I wish I had a better memory.  Been trying to find an article referencing it, and haven't been able to, but my search-fu may be weak given that I'm tired and it's Monday.

[ Parent ]
Chico Bag has (2.00 / 5)
some interesting information. They sell reusable bags, and I know you said unbiased, but they actually had some kind of lawsuit against them a few years ago and think as a result really make sure they have accurate info.

I have been using reusable bags and a shopping basket for years, it is just natural for me to bring them now. I really don't wash the bags because if I get meat, I do have them put that in plastic, and fruits and veggies go in my basket and then get washed when I get home.  You can also make bags out of old t-shirts, it is super easy and they can be so fun!

Shake it like a Polaroid picture.

[ Parent ]
Target has a reusable bag you can buy for $1.00. (2.00 / 5)
Then each time you use it, you get a nickel off your purchase. Plus it makes you feel good!

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
That always makes me nervous... ;~) (2.00 / 1)
Plus it makes you feel good!

I have too many finger-burns from agreeing with something because it makes me feel good, only to find that it didn't achieve what I wanted. Happens to me all the time.

I hope reusable bags are for the better, and organic farming and other liberal good intentions. It's just that there is a skeptical error-correction routine that runs in my mind that alarms on feeling good about them.

My career is highlighted by periods where I pushed back against what enthusiasts unanimously believed were the Right Things To Do. Looking back I can point to many cases where that has been empirically correct.

Security people would rather have everyone sit quietly with their hands where they can be seen. But since that isn't going to happen, the best impact can be through efforts best described as "broader but shallower".

Reusable bags still trigger memories of Ontarians eagerly sorting trash for recycling, only to have it shipped back and forth burning millions of tons of diesel only to end up in landfills in the US. Or our Silicon Valley friends hand-raising organic turnips for high-end Los Gatos restaurants at a calorie/carbon ratio that would make an oil baron blush.

While I am eager to adopt what works, the more something makes enthusiasts feel good the more my alarm bells ring.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
I love that clip! That show was a personal favorite. (2.00 / 1)
I still use the phrase "Danger Danger, Will Robinson" in writings once in a while but the number of people who get the reference seems to get smaller the older I get. ;)

I do know that things "making us feel good" is not a justification for everything. Although a reusuable bag for non-food items that means one less plastic bag needs to be used seems pretty straightforward.

I remember when recycling plastic was a Brand New Thing. People recycled everything and then it was discovered that there was a lot of recycled material that could not be reused or had a market. Common sense needs to applied to everything we do.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
I just ordered two of the bottles from Shopko. eom (2.00 / 10)

"I base most of my fashion sense on whether or not it itches"  -- Gilda Radner

Here's the link: (2.00 / 10)
Hydra 16oz Cold Beverage Bottle

They also come in Moose Purple!!

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
So what does it mean (2.00 / 10)
"Twist body to add ice cubes, lemons or limes"? Does it open elsewhere besides the lid?

Enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.

Barack Obama 1/21/2013

[ Parent ]
Yes!! Exactly. (2.00 / 8)
Just above the handgrip is the start of the screw-on top. You unscrew it and then can open it to refill it from a larger dispenser if the bottle top is too narrow (or from a chilled pitcher, perhaps). Or put in ice cubes or the indicated fruit. It means you could not fill it to the top, obviously, from that section.

I fill mine from bottled water dispensed from 5-gallon water bottles that we have delivered to our house.  

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
Totally awesome (2.00 / 8)
Thing I hate about a lot of water bottles is that you can't get ice in them and the water warms too quickly. I see me opening, adding ice, closing and filling with liquid through the top. Must haz. In Moosely purple, I do believe.

Enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war.

Barack Obama 1/21/2013

[ Parent ]
I found ice cube trays that make long, skinny cubes, (2.00 / 4)
just the right size to drop in a bottle with a small opening, like most water bottles. I found them at Bed Bath & Beyond, so I did a quick google search hoping to give you a photo. I don't see the ones I'm talking about, but you'll get a giggle out of what's available.

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it is those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world." ~ Desmond Tutu

[ Parent ]
Ha! Pootie cubes!!! (2.00 / 5)

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
See my comment below on the glass bottles. (2.00 / 3)
The opening is the width of the bottle, so you can put it all the ice you want. Just another reason to love them! And they come in purple...

Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

[ Parent ]
we have a few permanent water bottles (2.00 / 8)
it seems to be very hard for my children to stick to putting water in them.  also, my daughter gloms on to the prettiest one available.  

i also re-use other containers as they are available, before they go into the recyling bin.  

okay, so we have a constitutional right to destroy the earth and its oceans.  let's give the wingnuts that.  

maybe we don't need to exercise all of our constitutional rights all the time.  ?  

or maybe there isn't a constitutional right to destroy the earth?  

Reason 5670340590784873734859607070960504040478 (2.00 / 8)
I love Vermont!

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

Although one quibble ... (2.00 / 7)
the "snow-covered campus" is snow-covered no more.

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
I love Vermont also. (2.00 / 6)
I have it on my list of Places I Would Like To Retire To.

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
Let me know when/if you come to reconnoiter at retirement spot. (2.00 / 4)

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

[ Parent ]
I have sort-of relatives who live in South Burlington. (2.00 / 4)
If I visit there, it will be for leaf peeping.  

Words have meaning. Our words will reflect what is in our souls.

[ Parent ]
These reusable glass bottles are the way to go! (2.00 / 7)
Once you start drinking water stored in glass, you will never go back to plastic of any kind. Since my cancer diagnosis, I wanted to purge all vestiges of plastic food & beverage storage from my life. I drink tons of water, and have a faucet-mounted filter for the sink tap. I switched to glass pitchers for storing cold water in the fridge. I found some terrific Italian-made 2 liter pitchers from Frigoverre that are practically bulletproof and don't take up much space. (I keep two in the fridge at all times.)

For bottled water, Lifefactory makes thick bottles covered with silicone outer sleeves to protect the glass. (They also make baby bottles & sippy cups.) I've had three bottles for about two years now--I bang 'em around quite a bit and there is nary a chip.

I promise I'll learn how to embed Moose links soon. For now:

Frigoverre Jug: Its technical name is 'Bormioli Rocco Frigoverre Jug with Hermetic Lid, 2 liters.' Google any permutation thereof, and you should find lots of options. It shouldn't run you more than $15. I got mine at

Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

Of course, glass is a little heavy for hiking... (2.00 / 6)
and I don't want to toss it in the bottom of a boat as I'm paddling. So I also have a variety of lightweight stainless steel bottles for refilling, too.

Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

It is common for some organizations to give these away (2.00 / 8)
as membership premiums. Right now Food and Water Watch will give you one for a $15 donation. Mine is from Oceana.

Thanks for this Jan! (2.00 / 4)
I had no idea that universities were even considering this, how exciting. :)

Shake it like a Polaroid picture.


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