We’re often advised to drink lots of water every day, but that isn’t always feasible unless we have a bottle of water with us all the time. It’s for this reason that water bottles have become quite popular these days, but many of these containers are large, heavy, and sometimes unsustainable. The latter is especially true for PET bottles, the most overused kind of water container there is. Its small, lightweight size makes it easy to carry around and its plastic material might make it seem like a good idea to reuse the bottle over and over again. Whatever the context, plastic is a harmful material in the long run, so this reusable and sustainable water bottle looks elsewhere for inspiration, one that’s easily overlooked and taken for granted because we simply throw away milk and juice boxes the moment they’ve been emptied.
Designer: Rishikesh Sonawane
It might have different names in different countries, but “TetraPak” is a common sight in groceries and refrigerators, holding liquids like milk, juice, and sometimes even soup. These cardboard containers are indeed designed to be thrown away, but there’s no reason one can’t design a variant that can hang around for quite a while before you have to part ways, primarily by recycling its parts. It lets you keep yourself healthy by drinking lots of water while also keeping the planet healthy by reducing the number of PET bottles out in the wild.
reU is the design concept that puts those ideas together, utilizing a layer of cardboard, aluminum, and polyethylene to provide form and structure to the water bottle shaped like an overgrown flask. These three materials were specifically chosen after much consideration because of their long-term benefits and ease of production, despite there being more sustainable alternatives available. Cardboard is better than paper mache when it comes to integrity and finish, aluminum is cheap and easily stretched into extremely thin sheets, and polyethylene, which is used in only 5% of the total design, is easy to produce.
The design, however, goes beyond just using sustainable materials. The shape of the “bottle”, for example, was chosen for space efficiency and easier grip. The dotted bottle cap made from bioplastic offers not just texture for turning the cap but also a visual contrast to the vertical lines running down the side of the bottle. The rubber tab keeps the cap in place and functions as a strap to hold or hang the bottle, but it can also be retracted to keep the cap from swinging around while you’re drinking or pouring out its contents.
Despite being a reusable bottle, reU isn’t meant to last forever. In fact, it’s designed to wear out to the point that you’ll have to properly dispose of it by recycling each distinct component separately and properly. This ensures that the water you drink will always be clean and safe, something that PET bottles can guarantee after repeated use. And given how cheap it is to produce and how easy it is to recycle, there’s little harm in replacing the reU with another reU, over and over again.