man pouring liquid into metal cup from stainless steel thermos bottle

Not every beverage container is made the same way, and some are certainly safer than others. What components do thermoses (and reusable water bottles) really contain? Are the materials sourced responsibly? Can thermoses be recycled? If you’re concerned about what you — and your kids — drink out of, look for a sustainable vessel that keeps your water safe and does right by the environment.

Earth911 teams up with affiliate marketing partners to help fund our Recycling Directory. If you purchase an item through one of the affiliate links in this post, we will receive a small commission.

The Luxury of a Sustainable Thermos

Thermoses with a high price point may seem like an unnecessary extravagance. But you’re doing more than just giving yourself a safe jug for your beverage of choice — you’re being kind to the environment.

The average reusable water bottle holds about 32 ounces. The average plastic water bottle holds 16 ounces. The optimum hydration recommendation is at least eight glasses (64 ounces) of water a day. If you think a reusable water bottle costs too much, do the math:

  • The average bottle of water costs about a $1 in most places (though you can always purchase in bulk for a lower price).
  • If you drink as much water per day as you’re supposed to — the equivalent of four plastic bottles — the expense adds up pretty quickly.
  • A $20-$40 water bottle (that contributes to good things for the planet) has a one-time cost. It saves you money and reduces plastic water bottle waste at the same time.
  • Even if you only buy one large plastic bottle per day, or the four per day that recommended hydration requires, with a reusable bottle, you save anywhere from 365 to 1,460 plastic bottles per year.

Individuals use 167 plastic water bottles every year, according to Ban the Bottle, the organization advocating for the ban of one-time use plastic water bottles. Less than one-third of these bottles are recycled. Think how much good you can do by relying on a reusable water bottle or thermos.

Earth-Friendly Thermoses for Lunchbox or Backpack

Thermoses may not cross your mind as something that’s sustainable, but there are plenty of options that will make you feel better about putting your mouth where your money is. (Or, at the very least, make you feel better about not populating the world with more plastic bottles.)


Hydrade is a solar-powered, stainless steel reusable water bottle made of 100 percent recycled product. With a plastic outer liner and solar cells to power the bottle, the components are easily recovered for new uses once the bottle is retired. Now add this: The Hydrade water bottle tracks your water consumption (far too many Americans are short on hydration). And, for every ounce consumed, the company delivers an ounce of water to charity. That’s good stuff.

Pre-order your Hydrade

Hydro Flask

If you want to keep your cold cold and your hot hot, the Hydro Flask bottles use the TempShield innovation of vacuum-insulated technology to maintain the temperature of your drink in a strong, pure, stainless steel vessel. Environmentally awesome: The brand has a partnership with Parks for All, providing grants to nonprofits focused on building, bettering, and maintaining our beautiful, wild parks.

Buy it on Amazon

Tree Tribe

One water bottle for a lifetime — that’s what Tree Tribe is guaranteeing customers. Their eco-friendly water bottles reduce plastic usage (silicone is only in the lid gasket). They are made with food-grade stainless steel and double-layered for insulation to keep your liquids hot or cold while eliminating condensation and outside temperature change. Plus, Tree Tribe plants 10 trees in locations throughout the world for every sale. That’s 402,000 trees and growing.

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The mission of S’well is to rid the world of plastic bottles. Through their Million Bottle Project, the company aims to help displace 100 million plastic bottles from entering waterways and landfills by 2020. They partner with UNICEF to provide clean and safe water to vulnerable communities. And the sleek look of these vacuum-insulated, high-grade stainless steel water bottles does more than make you look cool when you’re at the gym or out and about, they are ridding the world of plastic water bottles, one thermos at a time.

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Conquering the Plastic Water Bottle Epidemic

Whether you use Contigo, Thermos, Klean Kanteen, or any other well-established brand of water bottle or thermos, ditching single-use plastic water bottles is a healthy, conscious, sustainable choice. Even better if you can select a brand that goes even a little further in helping the environment.

You can make a difference whether you carry your bottle in your gym bag, purse, briefcase, diaper bag, hiking bag, or otherwise. Minimizing single-use plastic bottle consumption is a sustainability effort that anyone can get behind by purchasing — and using– an eco-friendly thermos or reusable water bottle.