Balancing Eco-Friendliness with Overconsumption: The Case of Reusable Water Bottle Trends

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Thousands of Stanley cups, Hydro Flasks and reusable Starbucks mugs litter secondhand store shelves. Corporations made them to last longer than disposable alternatives and satisfy increasing consumer demands for eco-friendly options — or did they? 

It’s time to raise awareness of toxic reusable water bottle disposal. Why has this phenomenon gained traction when the intent behind multiuse products was to save the planet from waste?

The Rise of Reusable Water Bottles

Climate awareness has been on the rise for decades. Surveys report 60% of customers would pay more to purchase sustainably packed alternatives to disposable or unethical products like water bottles. Corporations are responsible for most of the world’s emissions, yet they advertise lowering carbon footprints and becoming greener as an individual burden to bear. 

How did they do this? Businesses began enticing and manipulating customers to buy their way to sustainability. You’ve seen it all over the internet, from biodegradable utensils to upcycled clothes. They convinced millions of people they could be greener by engaging in overconsumption and excessive shopping, which are among the most damaging human habits to the planet’s well-being.

The reusable water bottle market was worth $9.28 billion in 2023, highlighting its dominance. Reusable water bottles were one of the simplest and most accessible ways for customers to change the unnecessary habit of buying bottled water. 

These products are inexpensive for corporations to create, making it easy to profit from them. Due to recent hype, Stanley’s profits skyrocketed from $74 million in 2019 to $750 million in 2023. 

How Reusable Water Bottles May Increase Waste 

close up photo of white jug

Marketing becomes even more deceptive when enterprises reimagine the standard reusable water bottle as an exclusive or luxury item, akin to designer fashion purchasing trends. You have to collect them all, right? Then, you must participate in color drops and post unboxings on social media. 

You aren’t on-trend if the cup doesn’t match your outfit like a perfectly paired accessory. If it isn’t a relevant design, you get rid of it. This has led to an increase in reusable water bottle waste.

Reusable mugs are designed to decrease the copious amounts of plastic generation the world creates. Making single-use water bottles allocates unnecessary resources and water that harms the environment and creates pollution. This is ignorable with multiuse options.

However, now they’re creating a waste problem, as online shopping, overconsumption and hypercapitalism are top offenders for destroying the planet. Because the reusable water bottle trend is new, there isn’t concrete data yet for how much these sustainable staples produce. It will surely add up in time.

Tactics to Balance Eco-Friendliness and Overconsumption

woman wears black crew neck t shirt

You’re aware of the context and epidemic circling the reusable water bottle craze. Learn about what you can do to have a healthy relationship with shopping and lessen your carbon footprint.

Educate Yourself and Others

Most people participating in this trend may not know they’re causing environmental harm. Learn as much as possible from reputable sources and relay that info to community members. Be brave and don’t hold back even if you’re nervous to bring up a touchy subject because it is more important for people to learn from their mistakes.

Set Limits

If you’re one of the people participating in the reusable water bottle collectathon, find ways to manage your growing and existing items with intention. Donating them to Goodwill may have them sitting on shelves for ages. Consider regifting to people who will use them or individuals who use single-use water bottles as a kind gesture. 

It’s OK to treat yourself to a reusable cup with a design you love. Before you buy, create a sustainable plan for exchanging an old one for a new one. Allow yourself the joy of purchasing a fresh bottle to avoid a restrictive mindset, but set boundaries to prevent becoming part of the problem.

Make Your Bottle More Enticing

Perhaps you want to buy new water bottles all the time because the old ones don’t have a shiny, new quality about them. There are ways to refresh it so you use it more often and quell the urge to buy more.

Try cleaning your bottle daily to prevent the accumulation of bacteria for optimal taste or customizing the outside of the container with stickers and decals.

Let Companies Know You Care

stanley flask design
Photo by Geancarlo Peruzzolo on

Writing an email or calling a customer service representative to provide feedback on a product may not feel like it has an impact, but it can. Everyone from Stanley to Nalgene to S’well deserves to hear concerns from customers about how their marketing encourages excessive buying behaviors. Let them know how you feel and stress your passion for the planet. 

Encourage them to take a stand and adjust marketing and manufacturing strategies to focus on quality over quantity. You never know if you’ll be the call that tilts the scales to positive change.

Participating in advocacy like this gives you a clearer mind and a deeper connection to the items you purchase. It is one of the best ways to balance consumption while standing up for the Earth.

Evaluate Your Habits

Reusable water bottles are just the tip of the iceberg. Trends like WaterTok have people buying countless disposable water flavor sachets.

Bookstagram and BookTok are guilty of making people purchase and display numerous pages of waste in literature.

Lastly, nobody can forget to acknowledge fast fashion’s contribution to climate change. These are the kinds of fads many people are guilty of participating in. 

Take the water bottle phenomenon as an opportunity to reflect on how that behavior translates to other parts of your life. It will transform you into a more conscious consumer, whether you’re buying a reusable coffee cup or a cute skirt.

Reverting Reusable Reputations

Nobody wants to contribute to the misleading perception shift that reusable products are just as damaging to the planet as single-use versions. You and everyone you know must be accountable for responsibly using reusable products, including trendy water bottles.

The climate matters more than how many views you can grab on TikTok for obtaining a limited-edition cup.

What do you think? Leave a comment!