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Still Buying Disposable Water Bottles? Here, One Mom’s Tricks for Ditching Them

Kids and water bottles go together like bounce houses and stomach viruses: You can’t find one without the other. Sadly, the U.S. recycling rate for plastic water bottles is a depressing 23 percent, leaving 38 million bottles languishing in landfills—not, as we’d love to believe, living their best new life as a pair of cute sneaks. Bottled water also costs about 222 times more than tap water. Think about all the therapy you could treat yourself to with all that extra cash.

In the good-news category, Brita now makes a Longlast filter that lasts up to six months, eliminating the need for up to 900 sixteen-ounce water bottles during that time. More therapy, less eternal wasteland. It’s a win-win.

So why do so many of us still find ourselves pulling from the “emergency” case of bottled water in the basement (the one we are supposed to save in case a hurricane hits) or buying a bottle on the go when carting the kids around? It’s like social smoking: still a bad move, even if it’s only on weekends, vacay or girl’s night. With that in mind, I’m pledging to get down to Bottled Water Zero this year. You too? Try my strategies for the times you’re most likely to default to disposable.

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Bottled Water Booby Trap 1: The Birthday Party

Unless you’re hosting your kiddo’s party in a forest or an outhouse, running water is probably available. Use it to fill small paper cups. Bonus points if you bring your Brita to the toddler gym or ceramics studio. Or instead of offering the standard goody bag full of choking hazards, set the table with reusable stainless steel water bottles and send each kid home with one.

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Bottled Water Booby Trap 2: Vacation

Don’t leave the frigging reusable water bottles on the kitchen island (like I recently managed to do before a recent family vacation to Mexico). This Brita Filtering Water Bottle would have come in handy—it has an enclosed straw and one-handed push-button lid so nobody is swallowing sand, and its leakproof lid means it won’t dribble all over your beach bag, waterlogging your magazines. Bring your tots’ bots to amusement parks, sporting events and movie theaters too. Even if you can’t enter with them filled, you can always empty them out and refill them at a water fountain.

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Bottled Water Booby Trap 3: Road Trips

Before hitting the road, fill some reusable water bottles using a Brita water pitcher outfitted with a Brita Longlast filter—it reduces chlorine taste and odor, and removes 99 percent of lead, with a special activated carbon filter than prevents those little black flakes from escaping. You also won’t need to worry about plastic molecules floating in their water, which can happen when single-use water bottles are left in the car on warm days (another reason not to keep a case of them in your trunk).

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Bottled Water Booby Trap 4: The Gym

Stow a backup reusable bottle in your gym bag or locker for those times when you forget your usual sipper. Wash it thoroughly at least once a week to keep the scuzzies away.