Food is easily portable, thanks to bags, bowls, and the corners of your upper lip. Smartphones are equally easy to bring everywhere in your pocket, though if current trends continue, next year’s smartphones will require pockets big enough to hold a small floor lamp. It’s no surprise, then, that early humans quickly figured out a way to cart water around, with the use of water balloons. This, of course, led to the invention of the water pistol, the water mattress, the waterfall, and, about fifty years ago, the water bottle.
To give a brief history of the water bottle, it was originally fairly plain. It was made of hard plastic. It was round. And, like many cultural favorites from the past—asbestos, cigarettes, jitterbug dancing—it gave you cancer. I think it had something to do with the plastic slowly seeping into the water over time, though it could’ve also been the fact that everything ever manufactured gives you cancer.
Of course, nobody wants to drink water if it kills you, so the entire nation stopped drinking water for a brief six-week period in 2003, until they came up with: a plastic water bottle. Apparently one that does not cause cancer. Metal water bottles also gained popularity at this time, mostly because they were heavy, solid things you could use to defend yourself from zombies, hammer in nails, and, in a pinch, hit fly balls.
Some of today’s water bottles resemble the bottles of old, whereas others look more like a portable, self-contained missile-defense system.
Now, teenagers have an inherent need to rank everything from colleges to hairstyles to colleges with the coolest students’ hairstyles; water bottles are no exception. Walking down a high school hallway, you can often catch phrases like “Dude, that’s an awesomely cool water bottle,” or “That water bottle is so dorky it’s making my suspenders uncomfortable.” If you want to be cool, you’re going to need the coolest water bottle. The question is, which type to pick?
The stainless steel water bottle is usually fairly boring on the outside. On the plus side, stainless steel is impossible to stain, and very hard to steal.
The upsides to the steel bottle are few but important. To begin with, it’s metal, meaning it will probably take a very long time for scientists to discover it gives you cancer. As noted previously, it’s very sturdy, and probably illegal in certain European countries. It’s also terrible at insulation. If you live in a cold place, your water will always be very cold, and if you live in a hot place, you could always use it to hard-boil eggs on the way to school.
The biggest problem with the steel water bottle is that it is so plain, even when painted. Also, they have yet to come out with transparent steel, so you can’t see how much water is left inside without using thousands of calories of energy to unscrew the cap, which makes you thirsty.
Perhaps most annoyingly, stainless steel water bottles are easily dented and not easily un-dented, or indented, or trident-ed, or whatever the opposite of dented is. This means that after a week of hard use and drops, your water bottle only stands up looking like The Leaning Tower of Pisa.
Plastic water bottles are an incredibly hot market sector right now. You can get them with filters, with volume labels, with straws, with flip-tops, with pop-tops, with flip-pop tops, and (get a load of this) with tops.
The sheer variety of the plastic water bottle selection is a major plus. If you like the futuristic, I’m-the-one-who-took-all-the-water-from-Mars look, the transparent plastic gives all sorts of options. Many of the most popular plastic models of today started their careers as displays in prestigious modern art museums, in exhibits poignantly titled “Gift Shop.”
The downside to the plastic bottle is that its washing instructions are usually more involved than building a small fission reactor. You can wash the bottle part cold by hand, or with the dishwasher’s “fragile” setting. The top can only be washed in hot water or sterilized by staring intently at it for twenty seconds without blinking. The straw part can’t be washed with any water (it’s very bad for the straw to get wet), but if you want to CAREFULLY rub the outside with a piece of raw chicken, that’s okay as long as it’s very dry raw chicken.
Oh, also, the plastic might eventually give you cancer. But that won’t be a problem; you’ll be too busy admiring your high-tech high-fashion bottle to ever remember to take an actual drink.
The disposable water bottle is popular only because it comes pre-filled. It can be found naturally growing at the base of fronds on genetically modified palm trees near mountain springs.
The only plus to using a disposable water bottle is that is not a huge loss to lose, so if you’re skilled at losing things, this is the bottle for you.
Otherwise, there are endless downsides to disposable water bottles. The first is that it’s bad for the environment. You’re the one causing the pacific basin to turn into the pacific hot tub. You’re the one leading to the extinction of species that are probably much cuter than you are. Furthermore, these sorts of bottles crackle when you drink from them, which is annoying, unless you do it many times during a difficult math test, which may cause students to scream and run into the nearest wall.
Glass water bottles are more a fashion statement than functional bottles. Glass, after all, is as fragile as Justin Bieber’s self-esteem.
Nevertheless, fashion is obviously a plus side. After all, without fashion we wouldn’t have useless pieces of cloth men tied around their necks, or those British Royal Guards with the fur hats, and civilization would probably have collapsed years ago without them.
Otherwise, glass is not a good choice of water bottle, especially for sports or anyone carrying a few tons of textbooks who might suddenly buckle and crash to the floor at any moment.
A brief note on glass jars used as water bottles: don’t. Not unless you’d be willing to keep your jams and pickles in egg cartons and your orange juice in Tupperware. Exactly.
Each water bottle has benefits and drawbacks, meaning it’s truly up to you to decide. It depends on how much you value appearance, function, or a broken piece of glass. And remember, first ask your doctor if water is right for you.
Being sick is another reason to always carry around a water bottle, since it’s important to keep those flu viruses in your nose hydrated. And if you are sick, then you probably want to check out How To Be Sick, published this time last year. Want to know how to be sick the “sick” way? Of course you do.