Reusable, refillable water bottles are all the rage. But what are the best alternatives to plastic water bottles? There are glass options, aluminum, stainless steel, silicone and even filtered water bottle options.

With so many options hitting the market, how do you decide which one is right for you? And which one is right for the environment?

The most important thing is that you are reusing and not creating more waste through disposable water bottles. But you can take it to the next level with these options.

Why should I use an alternative to plastic?

First, let’s talk about why you would want an alternative to plastic bottles. Reusable plastic bottles are certainly better than disposable plastic bottles. No question there. But they are still not the best option, for your health or for the environment. Even BPA free plastics can have a number of other chemicals, even replacements for BPA, that leach into your water and eventually into your bloodstream. And, we know that plastic does not really break down or degrade, and so is a detriment to the environment.

What is the best alternative to plastic water bottles?

Best Alternatives to Plastic Water Bottles - Glass Water Bottle Outdoor
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Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

When & where will you use your bottle?

Next, let’s think about how you will use it and where you will use it. Bottles needed for camping or hiking will need to be more durable than everyday use bottles. Personally, I take mine absolutely everywhere and I use them at home.

Water Bottle Materials

There are many materials used to make reusable water bottles, but I will focus on glass and stainless steel as the best alternatives to plastic.

Glass is highly recyclable and beautiful to look at. While you might think it too fragile a material, glass can be tempered for strength, and some glass water bottles come with silicone wraps to protect them. Silicone, while not perfect, is better than plastic for your health and the planet. If you’re not convinced check out this article: Silicon vs Plastic.

Glass is also machine washable, non-toxic and non-porous. A great alternative for families worried about chemicals and toxins.

Glass Bottle Pros

  • Non-Toxic
  • The design is often beautiful to look at
  • Machine washable
  • Non-porous
  • Eco-friendly
  • Glass is 100% Recyclable
  • Often contain no plastic parts and minimal silicone

Glass Bottle Cons

  • More breakable than other options
  • Added silicone wraps mean more materials
  • Rarely come with a spout or straw top
  • Not ideal for rough travel such as camping
Best Alternatives to Plastic Water Bottles - Stainless Steel Water Bottle
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Photo by Benjamin Lambert on Unsplash

Stainless steel is another great option. If you drop an stainless steel bottle, it may dent, but will not likely break. Stainless steel water bottles are great for heavy use and outdoor activities like camping, hiking or rock climbing.

Stainless steel bottles are also often insulated, and in my experience, they keep water (or other liquids) cold for a long time. (If they are not insulated, the opposite is true, they warm rather quickly as the metal is a good conductor of heat).

My main complaint about stainless steel water bottles is that they often have plastic lids. This can be helpful if you need a spout or straw to drink from, but otherwise is just a little more plastic in the world (and eventually the ocean). They also are often painted, so watch out for any toxic paints that will slowly scrape off and get out into the ecosystem.

Stainless Steel Bottle Pros

Stainless Steel Bottle Cons

  • Plastic lids/accessories are common
  • Paint will chip and scrape off, leaving pollutants behind
  • If not insulated, will not keep cold long
  • Sometimes lend a tinny taste to water

As you can see, both options have more pros than cons. So how do you decide which is right for you?

Best Alternatives to Plastic Water Bottles - Stainless Steel Water Bottle Bicycle
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This stainless steel water bottle is the perfect accessory for my bike.

Use these 5 questions to see which is best for you:

  1. Do you have kids?
  2. Do you plan to use it for a frequent, high impact activities?
    • If your water bottle will be sitting on the sidelines of a basketball court, or somewhere else it might get kicked, knocked over or dropped, glass is probably not the best option.
  3. Will you use it at home or in your car?
    • Glass may be a better alternative in these cases. Sitting in the heat of a car won’t bother the glass one bit. Caution though, if you live in a cold climate, do not leave a full water bottle full in your car – it may crack.
  4. Do you want the most eco-friendly alternative?
    • You’ll want to research a bit, I’m sure. But I find most often, glass is the better alternative for the environment. There are some stainless options that use no plastic or pain though, and those are great too.
  5. Is style a concern?
    • If you want a bottle as beautiful and stylish as you are, check out these glass Love Bottles.

As you can see, both glass and stainless steel water bottles are great alternatives to plastic. And ultimately it’s up to you which is better for your lifestyle. I hope these pros and cons, and the questions above have helped you make an informed decision.

Now, I always try to make my green living tips into money saving tips as well. In this case, the money you’ll save on purchased water is downright mind blowing. And both stainless steel and glass options should last you a good long time, no need to buy a new one every few months or years.

Will you make the switch from plastic to glass or stainless steel? Do you have a different option you like even better? Share your ideas in the comments below!

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Author, Owner, Superhero

I'm an aspiring superhero — trying to save the world, one little step at a time. But I also live in an apartment and on a budget, so I understand that not everyone can buy an electric car and grow all their own food.

I’m not here to judge you or shame you for what you don’t do. I’m just here to show you what you can do. To share the possibilities of a greener tomorrow!

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