Bottled Water that DOESN'T Harm the Environment
We used to go through a lot of bottled water. At our personal training center, we provide free water to all our clients. When we opened in 2007 we went through more than 5 cases each and every day.
Because we recycled all the bottles, we thought it was a green solution. Our clients got pure cold water and everything was neat and tidy. Then we found out exactly what it took for each of those bottles to reach our facility.
Many start out in places like France, Fiji or Iceland. Once they're bottled, they're shipped to the states, trucked across the country and then transported again to local retailers. Finally we drive to the store to pick them up. Every step of the way enormous amounts of non-renewable fossil fuels are getting burned up. On average, over a BILLION bottles a week are being consumed.
The bottles are a problem as well. Each one is made from petroleum products and less than 15% of those bottles are being recycled. Two million tons of plastic bottles are ending up in landfills every year. Even when they are recycled, it's often only into products that can't be recycled again.
We had to find an alternative to those bottles. Hard plastic wasn't an option because it wouldn't stand up to the rigors of constant daily use and abuse. Aluminum was light and strong, but the bottles had to be lined with a toxic epoxy or fragile ceramic to make them safe to drink out of. Water fountains were good, but inconvenient. Glasses might work, but we couldn't risk them breaking on the workout floor.
After a searching and trying alternatives for nearly 2 months, we finally found a solution with stainless steel.
There are a few companies that produce stainless steel drinking bottles, we happened to choose the 27 oz. bottles from Klean Kanteen. To make sure there was as little plastic as possible, we chose the stainless steel lids for them as well.
Our upfront investment was $2,000 for 190 bottles, $500 on a good energy star dishwasher and $300 on a premium reverse osmosis water filter.
(You'll save money and time if you DON'T have your company name put on the bottles. They start to chip off after only a couple months and eventually you have to completely remove it anyway.)
The routine is simple. The chilled bottles wait in our refrigerator for clients when they come in. After they're finished, there's a pad where the bottles are dropped off. Then we take over.
Each bottle is first emptied into a watering can. As the can fills up it's used to water our plants and small patches of grass. The bottles are put in the dishwasher and the caps are sanitized by hand. Once the dishwasher is finished, the bottles are filled with filtered water and put in the refrigerator to cool down. When they're cold, they're transferred into the customer area of the refrigerator and they're ready for clients again.
We still offer clients the option of plastic water bottles, but we've made a couple changes.
- First, we've chosen a bottler that's as close as possible to minimize fuel used for shipping.
- Second, we charge our clients for every plastic bottle as an "environmental impact fee" so they realize there are consequences to consuming fossil fuels.
They can still get bottled water free, they just have to choose the environmentally better stainless steel option.
Our customers love it because the water tastes great and the bottles stay cool through their entire workout. We love it because we're no longer burning fossil fuels or spending hundreds of dollars a month on plastic bottles.
Our stainless steel bottles, dishwasher and filter paid for themselves in 5 months. Now, as fuel prices go up and bottled water gets more and more expensive, we can rest assured that our prices and impact on the environment remain the same...zero.
Over time, stainless steel will develop small dark "stains" that are similar to rust. To keep our stainless steel bottles looking shiny and new, we tried cleaners like Brasso and Tarnex. Both worked, but they were full of foul smelling chemicals that we didn't want to expose our employees to.
We found an amazing solution from our local Shaklee representative, Dean Walters. He suggested we try the "Scour Off Heavy Duty Paste" with a sponge. Amazingly it worked better than the industrial cleaners we were using and it's made out of cherry pits.
We don't sell or represent Shaklee, but to save people a lot of time searching for a green cleaning solution, we highly recommend this environmentally friendly (and great smelling) product.
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