Ask Mar­i­lyn

Albuquerque Journal - Parade - - Stay Healthy - By Mar­i­lyn vos Sa­vant —Ann Fuchs, Philadel­phia, Pa.

Why is it OK to drink from a dis­pos­able plas­tic wa­ter bot­tle but not to re­fill it with wa­ter and drink from it again? The plas­tics in ques­tion dif­fer, but in gen­eral, con­cerns in­volve a com­bi­na­tion of bac­te­rial con­tam­i­na­tion and the leak­age of chem­i­cal com­pounds. In the­ory, it would be safe to clean a bot­tle care­fully and re­use it, but in prac­tice, it doesn’t work that way. The bot­tles are de­signed to be dis­pos­able, so they’re flimsy, and when you wash them well enough to get rid of the bac­te­ria you in­tro­duce by drink­ing from them, they are easy to dam­age slightly, es­pe­cially if you do this re­peat­edly. This causes im­per­cep­ti­ble cracks where bac­te­ria can ac­cu­mu­late and chem­i­cals may be re­leased.

Any­way, if you think it’s en­vi­ron­men­tally wrong to dis­card all those plas­tic bot­tles after us­ing them only once, why buy that first bot­tle if you’re sim­ply go­ing to re­fill it with tap wa­ter? In­stead, buy a re­fill­able con­tainer (stain­less steel, cer­tain sta­ble plas­tics, glass with a pro­tec­tive frame, etc.), which can be washed and reused re­peat­edly. These words fol­low a rule:

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