Plastic water bottles are one of the banes of my existence. Sounds extreme, I know.
But I see them as one of the most ridiculous, inconsiderate things to purchase on the planet. They’re wasteful and contrary to popular belief, drinking from them is detrimental to our health. Living in a place with many tourists, you sadly see them here in Hawai’i all the time but we’re hoping to pass a state-wide ban on them here soon!
Recently, I started an Instagram LIVE series where I jump on with others who are also passionate about the environment and we have open conversations about sustainability and invite our online communities into the mix. My intention with this series of IG lives is to share the many facets of conscious living and to discuss the pivotal ‘aha moments’ in our lives that have sparked on-going change. Each live I’ve hosted has been a really beautiful, eye-opening conversation, yielding impactful takeaways. Keep an eye out for the next one!
During my last IG Live, an avid traveler asked:
“How can I avoid plastic water bottles when I travel abroad to countries like Mexico and Indonesia?”
A very honest question that many travelers face. It caught my attention because this is a huge amount of waste that is more ‘need’-based than convenience-based and something that really needs a solution. I knew there were options but I started digging – this is what initially lead me to the LARQ Bottle.
By equipping yourself with a reusable water bottle and refusing to buy plastic water bottles, you are eliminating one of the most unnecessary means of single-use plastic waste.
U.S. consumers purchase an average of 8.45 billion gallons of bottled water each year, according to statistics — and, rather than being recycled, about 75 percent of the empty plastic bottles end up in landfills, lakes and oceans where they won’t decompose for over 400 years.
Some haven’t given them up yet out of habit, because it seems more convenient. Although I argue once anyone really knows the truth about these bottles and the water within them, they won’t reach for another one again.
For me, the issues with plastic water bottles are broken down into three areas:
PRODUCT CREATION + DISTRIBUTION
The carbon cost of this product is also grim, the Pacific Institute has calculated that the equivalent of 17 million barrels of oil are used to make plastic bottles every year in the US (many of which are exported to Canada). Then, you have to add the fossil fuels used for transportation of water bottles, refrigerated units to cool the bottles, and energy used to recycle bottles if and when they make it that far.
IMPACT ON OUR HEALTH
The harmful toxins (such as BPA) in the plastic bottles actually leach into the water, then enter our bodies. BPA is linked to cancer, reproductive issues, immune system suppression and problems with childhood development. The water in plastic water bottles has been tested and is highly acidic, filled with micro-plastics and sadly, how the water is treated is not regulated.
These huge water corporations fail to disclose where this water is sourced from and how it’s treated. There is a misconception that bottled water is filtered better than our tap water. This is not true at all. Water companies actually do a pretty good job of filtering tap water because their quality of filtration is regulated (much more so than water bottles). They do add chemicals, such as chlorine and fluoride, to treat the water, but these can be filtered out easily and quickly just before you drink it.
More than a million bottles are added to landfills EVERY MINUTE further polluting water supplies. That’s more than 20,000 bottles every second.
“But I recycle mine!” is a common argument. Sadly, unless you know how to recycle and repurpose plastic yourself, you don’t know where it goes or how it’s handled once you throw it “away”. It is estimated in North America that 70-75% of plastic water bottles sold are not recycled meaning that they end up in landfills and our oceans, lakes and rivers due to improper waste management.
We have to adopt a much more responsible approach and understand that just because we have the best of intentions when we put something to recycling, that we don’t actually know where that goes. The best thing we can do is to eliminate our use of it and instead use more regenerative and restorative materials that last for a long time.
The $200B global bottled water market is damaging the environment and our health.
It’s time for a better solution:
The LARQ Bottle
I had heard about the LARQ Bottle before but when I was searching for an answer to this travel-related water problem, I was wildly impressed with their company and the technology they have created. So much so that I reached out to partner with them to spread the message that we’re both so passionate about: eliminating single-use waste and this ‘convenience’ mindset that’s so prevalent.
The LARQ Bottle is the world’s first portable water disinfection system. It emits UV-C light at the optimal wavelength of light to eradicate harmful sources, triggering a photochemical reaction that destroys their DNA.
LARQ’s proprietary and patented technology eradicates up to 99.9999% of germs, bacteria and protozoa. They are self-cleaning bottles that intelligently turn on every 2 hours for 10 seconds to make sure your water and bottle stay clean.
This is so wild to me! I was so interested in the technology as well as their sustainability practices as an overall company!
LARQ has identified something interesting, which is that:
65% of the time people trust their water source.
But it’s the other 35% of the time that people reach for single-use plastic.
LARQ’s goal is to fill that 35% of the time gap so that we can eliminate any need for plastic water bottles. I love this notion and can totally relate to these statistics.
In addition to the efforts of reducing single-use plastic, LARQ is also bringing safe drinking water to billions of people around the globe through its partnership with 1% for the Planet.
An amazing mission is vital for a sustainable company but so are their actions as a whole. I asked them about their materials, manufacturing, shipping and packaging and was pleasantly surprised with what I found out:
- LARQ uses powder coating on their bottles which is environmentally friendly and produces less hazardous waste.
- They are in conversation with their freight service to ship carbon neutral.
- Lastly, they are currently working on making their packaging 100% recyclable paper. (When I received my bottle, there was ZERO plastic, very minimal packaging and just one small piece of foam. I was happy about this!)
Here Are Some Questions I Asked LARQ:
How Does LARQ’s proprietary technology work?
The LARQ Bottle utilizes proprietary UV-C LED technology that emits UV-C light in the 280nm range, the optimal wavelength of light, triggering a photochemical reaction to eradicate bacteria and viruses, eliminating harmful, odor- causing germs – by destroying their DNA
There are two modes to the LARQ Bottle:
• Normal Mode which runs a 60-sec cycle.
• Adventure Mode which runs a 3-min cycle
(perfect for outdoor use or you want to make sure the water is clean!)
The LARQ Bottle is rechargeable, one charge lasts up to 1-2 months of use. The LARQ Bottle does not require a filter replacement!
Will the technology eradicate even the most intensive bacteria?
Though the LARQ Bottle does not remove heavy metals or fluoride, it does eradicate 99.9999% of harmful bacteria and viruses. It also keeps your bottle free of harmful and odor-causing germs. The UVC LED technology inside LARQ has been tested by independent third-party labs. The LARQ Bottle is effective against various germs, including E. coli, Salmonella, Staph, and MRSA.
How does one identify how dirty the water can be for LARQ to successfully eradicate bacteria?
LARQ should only be used with water that is clear to the eyes with no heavy sediments.
How does the bottle ‘self-clean’ itself?
The LARQ Bottle intelligently activates every two hours, for ten seconds, basking the water and inner surface in purifying UV light. This process destroys germs, bacteria and protozoa.
UV-C LED technology can have detrimental affect especially when made with mercury tubes.
How does the bottle combat this risk?
The UV-C LED chips in LARQ are smaller, more energy efficient, non-toxic (mercury free), and more economical compared to traditional Mercury based UV technology. The UV-C wavelength is 280 nanometer spectrum that is uniquely suited to eradicate bacteria and germs even before they have a chance to spread.
How was LARQ conceived?
LARQ was co-founded by Justin Wang, who was inspired by a simple vision to use innovative technology to give people access to pristine drinking water in a sustainable way. With his partner Ital, they are bringing this technology previously only used for medical and governmental benefit to the consumer. The company combines innovative technology with refined design to make it easier for people to make the healthier and more sustainable choice, anytime and anywhere.
LARQ checked a lot of the corporate sustainability boxes for me and I loved learning more about them transparently as a company. A few of the things I hear people say is that they hate how ‘musty’ reusable water bottles can get, that they’re hard to clean and that they don’t purify water. I love that LARQ has created a practical solution for these problems. I find our LARQ Bottles wonderful for everyday use but also for traveling, backcountry hiking, etc.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, reducing our impact on the environment as individuals and businesses (especially with mindless plastic waste) isn’t hard. It just takes intention and preparation.
Ready to overhaul your everyday waste?
Take your reusable water bottle with you, keep a canvas bag, tupperware, cutlery set and stainless steel straw in your car so that you’re prepared for any scenario. Prepare food at home to take with you and shop from local sources with minimal packaging like farmer’s markets or your local CSA. When you’re prepared, it’s easy to avoid wasteful conveniences.
Ready to overhaul how you shop?
Ask questions like I did with LARQ to any businesses you shop from. Are their manufacturing, ingredient sourcing, packaging and shipping environmentally conscious and ethical?
Here are some things to consider:
- Repurposed/Recycled Materials
- Compostable or Post-Consumer-Recycled Packaging
- Fair Trade
- B-Corp Certified
- Carbon Neutral Shipping
- Natural or Organic Materials (preferably GOTS certified)
- Made locally to base consumer
- Independently Owned
- Not mass produced
- Give back to cause/organization/community
- Made with intention (i.e. honors tradition, brings awareness, tells a story
Most conscious companies will have practices like these listed on their website but if not, shoot them an email or a direct message on Instagram and ASK! It’s wonderful to alert your favorite companies that these things are important to you.
I’m honored you’ve taken the time to read all of this information and can’t wait to see how you incorporate everything into your life. Please be sure to reach out with any questions and tag me (@elanaloo) on social when you share your #sustainableswaps!