How I Reduced My Environmental Footprint and Increased My Happiness

Last year I made a New Year’s resolution to avoid drinking from a single-service can, cup or bottle. I made an exception for a few dozen shakes, a handful of sundaes and a Slurpee, and I’m proud to say that I kept my resolution. I have renewed it for 2014.

I made the resolution primarily to reduce the waste I contribute to landfills, but also because I love to challenge myself in new and unusual ways, and because I wanted to see how I’d have to change my life to do it.

I’ve made honoring this resolution as easy as possible by giving up soda, energy drinks and alcohol. Last year I lost ten pounds without doing anything else differently.

Some days I miss drinking caffeine, but I’m sleeping well and physically and mentally I’ve never felt more clear.

When I long for carbonation, I’ll drink a big bottle of Pellegrino or Perrier and ignore the fact that drinking sparkling water is a bit hoity-toity. I really like it with lime.

I bought an opaque 32-ounce Nalgene bottle with an orange lid and I carry it with me everywhere. It’s inelegant, and it’s too big for the cup holders in pretty much every vehicle but a Ford F150. I’ve tried smaller bottles, but I have to fill them throughout the day more often than I like.

Carrying this bottle can seem a bit strange when I go to meetings where everyone’s wearing suits, but fortunately that’s not too often. On those occasions my bottle sometimes becomes a topic of small talk, and when it does I’m glad to talk about something other than the weather or how far someone traveled to attend that meeting.

Sometimes I forget to take my bottle when I leave home. I keep a plastic cup at work for this reason. If I’m in public I either use a drinking fountain (how had I never noticed that they are often located near the restrooms?), or I simply let my thirst teach me that I should develop a better memory.

I’m grateful that more airports, convention centers and public places are installing drinking fountains that double as bottle-filling stations. Someday, as a society we’ll look back and marvel at the impact bottled water had on our environment and the fact that we ignored it.

Although I prefer cold water, I’ve adjusted to drinking it at room-temperature. When I find myself wishing for ice, I remember that more than 2 billion people on this planet are without a regular source of clean drinking water.

And I remind myself that we don’t inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

Then that water tastes pretty good.

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