How do you store the water you drink? Did you say,’What an absurd question?’ Not at all. Water storage is a weighty matter, enough to baffle many minds. When we talk about water bottles and storage, the debate inevitably boils down to the stuff the containers are made of.
What have you chosen? A ‘convenient’ plastic bottle, a ‘classy’ glass one, or a ‘sturdy’ metal variant? And what about the cool, rustic flavour of water stored in earthen pots during the scorching summers?
Most households rely on the good old plastic bottles for their daily water storage. But is it safe?
Wondering what that is? Well, it exploded in the global arena in 2007, when it was discovered that Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in some varieties of plastic bottles, was potentially toxic to humans. It also came to be known as the ‘hormone mimicking’ plastic chemical.
When absorbed by the body,BPA disturbs the way hormones work. How? Either by mimicking estrogen, androgen or thyroid hormones, or by blocking their production. Result? Abnormal growth of Endocrine glands disorder.
The public uproar was loud enough to get BPA products banned. Many baby bottle manufacturers in the US are now offering ‘BPA-free’ bottles to its customers. India is catching up soon. Let us move away from BPA for a moment. And come to the critical issue of reusing plastic bottles that enter our homes with packaged water and carbonated beverages. Just toss them into the dustbin. Why? Because these bottles are usually made of a type of plastic called polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which can turn poisonous. Because it is porous, bacteria can grow easily on its surface. And though durable, it degrades if exposed to heat or sunlight for a prolonged period.
Classy glassy affair
Walk into any crockery store or log on to one of the many websites selling household stuff, and you are bound to come across sparkling, beautifully designed sets of water bottles made of glass. Then the sales person would sing fulsome praises, telling you about the many virtues of glassware. About how safe these are for your health as glass does not release chemicals or odours. It is
eco-friendly, too. Unlike plastics, disposing glass is a clean affair. It does not pollute land, water or soil.
Also, glass is made from completely natural raw materials — sand, limestone and soda ash. Chemically inert, it is about as safe as it can get. At least, this is the message that the US Food and Drug Administration has conveyed
to consumers, by putting its seal of approval on glass
as the only packaging material ‘generally recognised as safe’ (GRAS).
Recyclable, reuse: Glass with an edge?
What is the main ingredient in a new glass bottle? ‘Recovered glass’ from recycling, makes up as much as
70 per cent of the composition. According to industry
estimates, 80 per cent of all recycled glass eventually ends up as new glass containers. Industry estimates apart, you ought to realise one important fact. Glass, extremely fragile, once broken, has to be sent to a recycling unit. Now, processing, crushing et al of glass cannot be done without energy, can they? So glass, too, comes at a price.
Talk to your parents and neighbours and find out. Are these heavy, fragile bottles the most preferred way to store water?
Going the heavy-duty metal way
Metal bottles are another option — you can choose between steel or aluminium. According to experts, stainless steel of 304 grade is one of the most hygienic materials available. The same stuff is used to manufacture surgical equipment and kitchen utensils. Its USP? Reduces risks of water contamination.