Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Water, Water, Everywhere

I had no idea!

We were given a plastic drink bottle with a gel freezer stick to keep the drink cold. OK, I understood that much. But along with the bottle there was a mysterious rubbery thingy with a rectangular window and round hole, obviously meant to attach to the enclosed strap. What in the world?

These days, a Google search reveals all kinds of things and I quickly found that the rubbery thingy was an iPod nano holder, intended to be strapped to the bottle and to the user's arm.

But I also found I had dived into the astounding world of the sports water bottle. It was a revelation that there are more than 150 different water bottle designs, not counting the color options. It was not so surprising that there are different sizes or that you can buy bottles made of aluminum, stainless steel, soft vinyl, polycarbonate lite or heavy, BPA-free plastic and generic plastic; recycled and biodegradable. I WAS surprised to learn that bottles come in every conceivable shape; transparent, translucent, clear, or opaque, and that before choosing a bottle, you must decide whether you want to sip, suck, gulp, guzzle, squirt, or spray and then choose the appropriate top: push-pull, snap, flip, screw, slide or swivel.

The bottles that come with accessories like the iPod nano holder also come with a cultural statement. The water bottle, whether the pre-filled disposable kind (bad for the environment and often filled with ordinary tap water) or the high-tech sport bottle (a seldom washed hang-out for who knows what kind of bacteria), is a deemed an everyday necessity by many people. Yes, I know that drinking an adequate amount of water each day is good for us, and I can understand that high-performance athletes and other people engaged in vigorous physical activity in hot weather might need to watch their fluid intake. But in the ordinary course of my day, the fluid I ingest at meals and possibly once or twice at other times, seems quite enough.

The sport water bottle has become a cultural icon; we can't leave home without it. Some of the secondary functions, like an enclosed pill case, make sense. Hooks, straps and carabiners are useful for cyclists and hikers. Bottles that change color with the temperature and include fluid intake calculators, picture frames and Mp3 holders, start to seem a little bit silly. But if sipping frequently at a water bottle has taken the place of sucking on cigarettes, I won't criticize.


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