Storm Cupboard: Ode to a re-usable water bottle

Gone are the days of having to drink warm water from the bottle that’s slowly lost its refreshing chill. Gone are the days of getting back to the car and opening the bottle you left behind, or fetching it out of your bag to drink water that now tastes like plastic. More important, gone is the question of what to do with the bottle once you have drunk the water. In a stainless-steel bottle, the water stays as cool as it was when it flowed from the tap. With any such flask you simply take it home again and wash it out for tomorrow.

Yes, this is a sustainable solution and allows you to give up producing a percentage of the plastic we’ve all been encouraged to waste. However, it is also more. It is a small act of emancipation. We all know that we are supposed to keep up drinking water through the day. It’s for our health, but also sometimes we’re just thirsty. Having your own water bottle with you is a rebellion of self-sufficiency as well as a rebellion against the waste-norm.

You don’t have to wonder where your next glass of water will come from. Of course, in the process of a day you may work in an office or store where there’s a kitchen for you with glasses and taps. You may work from home and rarely need to worry. But we all have days when we’re out and about. Commuting, running errands, going on long journeys by car or public transport, whether for work, life or pleasure. In any case, there is a guarantee in carrying your own water. You do not have to be so dependent, waiting to spy the right branding on a high-street sign or going out of your way to seek out an institution that will sell water to you. You pay for the right to have water in your home as well, but at least you don’t have to have the route of your day dictated to you. How often do we live a life mapped by the coordinates of commerce? Where as children we look to parents to guide our paths and supply our provisions, how much are we encouraged as adults to replace our parents with shops?

Now, many shops play a vital role on the building of community, the provision of employment and the sharing of important goods and culture through society. But it is important to be an independent agent, guiding the relationship for yourself.

I’m talking about the freedom to plan ahead and not find yourself so often needing to pop in somewhere that you find you need, rather than scheduling an outing to a store at a time that is convenient to you. I’m talking about the freedom of not having to corrupt the structure of a single day and fritter its time with many micro-chores and habits that play no part in your chosen life-style, your career, your well-being or your financial responsibilities.

Having a proper water bottle or flask, won’t solve any more problems than the obvious one. You will now be able to reach into your bag and take a sip of water. You will now be able to do so without the bother of wondering whether you’ll have to throw the bottle away, whether you’ll spot a proper recycling bin, or about that article you read that said plastic can’t be recycled that many times anyway so even putting this plastic in the more eco waste option is only a short-term solution.

At the same time though, a re-usable bottle is a small symbol of something else. There is something adventuring about it, reminiscent of explorers in tales who stopped to refill water pouches from laughing woodland streams. Although, this minstrel-past was also a time of lice, infection and brutally shorten life-expectancy, so perhaps it is only now, at long last, that we can actually have the adventuring, wayfarer life that was never possible in history because the people walking in a self-sufficient state then wouldn’t have noticed due to their crippling dental pain. Self-sufficiency is a very different thing to what most people imagine. It is mostly psychological. It has less to do with whether you have your own home, how long you lived in your parents’ house as an adult, how much student debt you still have or how emotionally needy you worry you may be.

The skills and the soul you need to grow to get through life regardless, are ones of resourcefulness and independence of mind. You don’t have to wait until that one particular promotion makes you rich enough to afford to fund your aspirational personality. That’s not a personality anyway, that’s a fantasy spending habit.

One way or another we are very used to being told that what we are and what we can provide for ourselves is not enough. We need money, we need love and we need provisions that we can’t make or grow. All these things are true and, at the same time, they’re not true in the way we are led to think they are. We are part of a great collaboration and contribute to the system that benefits others as much as we depend on the system in our turn. The point is that we are ultimately needed and also have countless small outlets to express choice and to rebel without needing to overthrow the idea of living within a society. We can reject how much plastic we throw away. We can simply refuse to replace items of clothing just because they’re not like the ones featured in magazines this month. We can say “this is the day I plan to have and I shan’t set foot in a shop because that’s a job I have scheduled for tomorrow.” We can carry our own water and not be made to throw the bottle away.

So yes, you’re right, this is just about a re-usable water bottle, but sometimes freedom is in the small things as well.

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