I’m a “Personal” Water Bottle Addict – Here Are My 5 Faves

In Search of the Perfect Water Bottle

I’m always on the search for a great water bottle. I take my water bottle with me everywhere. I love leaving home with my bottle full of Hetch Hetchy water and a few squirts of H2wOw. Since I am usually carrying some kind of purse or bag, it’s really no big deal to throw my bottle in there. When I say I take it everywhere, I really mean it…..I’m not just talking about the obvious places like the gym. Last week I flew to Boston and so did my water bottle — I emptied it out before I went through security and then filled it, as soon as I was on the other side, at one of SFO’s awesome filling stations. It really does come everywhere with me and I honestly can’t remember the last time I paid for a bottle of water. Since my water bottle is such an important accessory to me, I’m always on the search for the newest and best one — and I insist on having different bottles for different types of occasions (which I always remind my husband is much better than a shoe fetish). When searching for a new bottle, the criteria that matter most to me include:

  • Size — I don’t want it to be too big but it also can’t be too small. A bottle that can hold around 20 – 24 ounces is generally the best size for me. This is equal to 2.5 – 3 cups of water and is big enough to get me through a workout at the gym or a few hours out and about.  A shape that is narrow enough to fit in car upholders is also important.
  • Materials — While I love the designs and ease of some plastic bottles, I worry too much about the chemicals in plastic and it just isn’t for me. I only use bottles that are high quality stainless steel or glass (I like them to be labeled BPA and toxin free). I also make sure whatever other materials are included (straw, spout etc) are made out of high quality materials, like silicone. For the stainless steel bottles, I want them to be double walled and vacuum insulated with a sweat-free (no condensation) surface.
  • Weight — I do love glass bottles but they’re just not practical to go very far with. I have a Lifefactory bottle that I often use at home but, beyond a car-only trip, I’ve stopped bringing it out of the house. Glass is much heavier and by the time it’s filled with water it’s just not something I want to lug around. That said, drinking out of glass (either a water bottle or a cup) is my favorite way to go and if it wasn’t for the weight I would always choose glass.
  • Drinking Valve — I like drinking valves that are easily accessible but that don’t come in contact with anything when they’re closed — meaning, I don’t ever want to touch the drinking valve or spout to open or close it and I don’t want it coming in contact with other items in my bag or wherever else my water bottle travels (like the back pocket of an airplane seat — ewwww). So, ideally, I like valves or covers that pop up with the press of a button and are designed so I don’t have to touch the spout (at all) to get it closed.
  • Leakage — I can’t believe it still happens but it does. I won’t name the bottles that are on my list of least favorites, but most of them have made the list because they leak (as in all over my purse and other places that don’t mix well with water). Leaky water bottles are the worst……weather it’s because the valves are not completely leak proof when turned sideways or because the top has threading that isn’t great quality and sometimes causes the lid to go on crooked, I have had my fair share of bad experiences with leaky water bottles, and leakage should in fact  be at the top of my criteria list.
  • Ease to Clean — I like a wide mouth top so that I can easily fit a bottle brush inside. As I mentioned in my post Keeping My Family’s Reusable Water Bottles Clean and Yucky Free, as awesome as reusable bottles are, it’s no secret that they’re also a perfect breeding ground for bacteria. I clean my bottles daily and want it to be a simple task. And, if you’re a cold water person, a wide mouth bottle also makes it easy to add ice to your water.

So in summary (because it sounds much less high maintenance this way), I prefer a 20 – 24 ounce stainless steel bottle that has a protected drinking valve, wide mouth and doesn’t leak! Trust me, it’s harder than you think to find such a bottle, but fear not it is possible, and I’ve found some that do make the cut. Here are my current five favorites:

  1. Under Armour Dominate 24 Oz – This is a great bottle that is actually made by Thermos. I love the Locking flip top lid with one hand push button operation and the flip up carrying loop. I also love the silicone grip for a comfortable hold. It’s a bit on the pricey side and too wide for some car cup holders. This is my favorite bottle to bring to the beach as the lid really keeps the sand out and the water stays very cold for hours, even in the hot sun.41GUzi0WjnL._SL1024_
  2. WaterVault Sports Tumbler 20 Oz This is a straight-forward wall vacuum insulated stainless steel bottle at a great price point. I like it’s slender design and protected “sipper” style top. There’s something about the sipper that just works for me — it doesn’t dribble all over my cheeks when I tip it back for a big gulp, it feels more dainty than some of the wide mouth spouts. I like bringing this bottle to yoga class.

    watervault

  3. Fliptop Aquatix 27 Oz This is a really great bottle that meets all of my criteria, except for the fact that it’s a tad big at 27 ounces. The pop up top functions similarly to the Under Armour bottle above and feels very sturdy. I do wish it came in other fun colors – I’ve only found it in boring black. This is my go to bottle for SPIN class, as it’s easy to get a big gulp quickly and I find I need and go through the extra volume it holds.Screenshot 2015-05-08 at 12.29.23 PM
  4. Contigo Autospout 20 Oz This is my go-to gym bottle. I love the convenience and functionality of the pop up silicone spout (yet it’s still very protected and covered when not in use). It’s much easier to drink water at the gym by sucking out of a spout versus tipping — trust me, tipping a bottle on the elliptical may not end well (it certainly didn’t for me). The only down side to this bottle is that it’s much harder to clean the straw and spout than it is to clean any of the drinking areas of the first three above.contigo
  5. Thermos Pop of Pink 18 Oz My favorite bottle for throwing in my purse for a day of errands. A great pop up lid with a silicone straw. At 18 oz. this bottle is slightly smaller than my usual but that’s perfect for days, with a lot of walking, when I want to lighten my load. With a the straw spout, it’s still slightly more time consuming to clean but still way easier than my Contigo. Thermos makes many great designs that are similar to this and also has awesome kid-sized stainless steel bottles. All-in-all they’re my number one brand.

thermos

And, to see my favorite refillable bottles that are made with recycled materials read this

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California is in a drought and I’m making changes everyday

In response to California’s severe drought, Governor Jerry Brown issued an executive order on April 1st calling for a mandatory statewide 25% reduction in urban water use.The California drought situation is on my mind several times a day and has shifted my behavior in countless ways.

This image plainly shows the severe drought in California
This image plainly shows the severe drought in California

The phrase “We’re in a drought” gets thrown around countless times each day in our home……”We’re in a drought, don’t leave the water running while you brush your teeth”; “We’re in a drought, please finish the water you asked for”; “We’re in a drought, don’t just dump that water down the sink, use it to water a plant”; “We’re in a drought, the shower isn’t a place to relax”; “We’re in a drought, pick your towel up off the floor it doesn’t need to be washed after one use”.

To me and my people, “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” should clearly be the state’s motto (there may be a shortage of water but we haven’t lost our sense of humor). Although I’ve installed high efficiency toilets in my home (as has most of San Francisco), I still don’t flush for “just” pee and my children know to do the same. After all, the average person uses 80-100 gallons of water per day and flushing the toilet takes up the largest amount of this water.

I literally don’t pour any water down the drain.  Whether it’s water from boiling eggs or a few swigs left in the bottom of a glass, I collect it in  a watering can, that I keep next to the kitchen sink, and use the water for my house plants or garden. I felt guilty leaving the water on for 20 seconds to splash and wash my face each night so instead I switched to using a face cloth that I wet for just a few seconds…..and I definitely don’t wait for the water to get hot anymore. And you should see my car, clearly going to the car wash is not an errand that’s been in my rotation for a very long time.

My mind is always working and wondering about ways to conserve. When I’m doing the dishes, I ponder if it uses more water to wash the dishes by hand or to load them in the dishwasher. When I’m gardening, I think that I should really put down new mulch in my vegetable bed to help retain moisture. When it rains (which is seldom) I think about how I really need to build a rain barrel to collect the drainage. When my kids spill a container of nuts, I think about how much water it took to grow those nuts and how horrible it is to throw them out. And, I wonder about bigger things too like, what happens to our groundwater and the water that goes down the drain…..if all of San Francisco’s water comes from Hetch Hetchy (read more about San Francisco’s Hetch Hetchy water in my post here), is there a water purification system to recycle the drainage like in other cities (I researched this while writing this post and will cover it soon in another post)?

It irks me to no end when I see water being wasted……walking into a public bathroom where the sink is running or driving by a fire hydrant that is gushing water for an unknown reason, or, the one that infuriates me most of all – home and business owners that hose down the sidewalk in front of their property daily. It’s also made me judgmental when I’m a guest at other homes – I get annoyed when people leave the water running at the kitchen faucet, while they’re busy with another task, or bathe their children every night in separate baths.

My kids, ages 4 and 6, are also very aware, and taught at school about the water crisis and how to conserve. My oldest keeps a pan under the tub faucet to catch drips after it’s shut off and my youngest tells me that she doesn’t need fresh water in her container that she brings to school everyday and that every other day is just fine. 

I also see the changes on a city-level. Our beautiful playgrounds with water-play areas stand dry. Restaurants are not allowed to serve patrons water unless it is requested. Medians on streets are no longer part of the city’s watering schedule and often look sad. Parks have put in grass that doesn’t require watering or mowing. City street cleaning happens significantly less frequently. Several water-saving incentive programs are in place, including large rebates for replacing regular flow toilets with efficient flush models, and replacing residential clothes washers with efficient models. And my personal favorite is the city sponsored signage for residents to display, touting “brown is the new green”.

San Francisco's Public Works encourages residents to reduce outdoor watering and display this sign
San Francisco’s Public Works encourages residents to reduce outdoor watering and display this sign

I feel like I’m doing my part to conserve and I’m proud of my kids for what they know and their respect for the earth. The changes we’ve made have now become habit and will be part of us no matter where we live, with or without a drought. And for the most part, I’m impressed with the awareness and actions of the people around me and the city I live in. San Francisco has one of the lowest per capita water usage numbers in the state, averaging less than half the state average for gallons per capita per day.

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The funny thing is, it’s when I travel outside of California people seem concerned on an entirely different level. The minute I say I’m from California, they say “wow how’s the drought”……”it sounds really scary”…….or, “it seems really bad”………or, “what is California going to do?” It’s strange because these are feelings I don’t have and questions that don’t cross my mind. I don’t feel scared or desolate about the situation, instead, I feel like there’s been a lot of positive small changes around me and with me. Although the drought has impacted my daily behavior in meaningful ways, I don’t actually think about the scale of the drought and how it may impact the future of my family, city and state very often. Maybe it’s because it would depress me and I work hard to see the positives; maybe it’s because I’m too busy with the small changes and I’m choosing to focus on a minuscule part of an issue that’s so much bigger than me, my family or my city — residential water use accounts for only 12 percent of the total water used in the state; maybe it’s because global warming is causing all kinds of shifts and there are opportunities for change everywhere. So I choose to focus on change and setting the best example I can for my children and this next generation.  Although I sometimes find myself feeling ignorant to the larger issues when outsiders quiz me, I also know that I truly care, I’m living it every day and the changes I’ve made feel completely OK. 

What’s On Tap? It’s Hetch Hetchy For Me!

Hetch Hetchy might sound like the latest trendy micro brew but it’s actually San Francisco’s delicious tap water that comes from the pristine snowmelt in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. If this has you thinking about California’s drought, don’t worry this is a whole other blog post that I will get to in the future but for now I’m sticking with the positive, which is lucky for me, and everyone else in San Francisco, I have access to incredible tap water both at home and while I’m out and about in the city thanks to San Francisco’s myriad of water filling stations.  According to San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Hetch Hetchy water is quality tested over 100,000 times a year, and goes straight to the tap. Tap water is also highly regulated by the EPA and across state and local water quality standards. Seriously, why would anyone in San Francisco buy bottled water, which is often nowhere near as “clean” as what comes from our tap?

Sunset in Hetch Hetchy
Hetch Hetchy Reservoir at Sunset Image courtesy of Justin Gaerlan https://www.flickr.com/photos/jcue786/

San Francisco’s “Drink Tap Program” began installing water filling stations throughout the city in 2010 and for the past four years I haven’t left home without a reusable canteen! Refilling stations can be found all over the city and beyond, from the Marina Green and Golden Gate Park to UCSF Medical Center and San Francisco International Airport. Not only do refilling stations provide access to free and delicious water but they encourage conserving our natural resources and reduce waste from single-use plastic water bottles.

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Globaltap Water filling station at the San Francisco Zoo

San Francisco may have been the pioneer of a public water filling station initiative, however filling stations are not unique to this city. Many other cities, including Boston and Wahington DC, have “Tap It” initiatives underway and many other private and public institutions have rolled out their own Water Filling Station Programs. Filling stations are especially on the rise and popular at colleges and universities where the average student spends hundreds of dollars each year purchasing bottled water, and more than 38 million of those plastic bottles end up in landfills annually, according to San Francisco State’s Office of Sustainability. Hopefully if you’re reading this, you live in a place where filling stations exist or are planned for the near future. If not, I urge you to still consider bringing your own container with you wherever you go, water fountains are a little awkward but still work to refill and many restaurants and cafes have help yourself filtered water available. Chances are that the water you fill your own container with will be as good or better for you than what you can buy so save some money and do something great for the environment too! 

If you’re not convinced, check out TapIt’s Infographic below, showing 10 reasons why you should drink tap water. A picture is worth a thousand words.

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10 reasons to drink tap water, courtesy of Tap It http://www.tapitwater.com/blog/drinking-water/

Please check back next week, I’ll be blogging about how much water you should really be drinking each day and what really counts toward your intake.