Reusable or Plastic?


My project revolves around the problem faced by the every-day consumer. Water is essential to human survival, and recently there has been action to control how water is consumed. There seems to be a push by environmental activists towards reusable water bottles. Along with the environmental impact that reusable water bottles have, there is also an economic impact on both suppliers and consumers. This issue is important to both my personal communities and the global community as well. This problem takes place in my school everyday. Our school has three vending machines around the school, and in those machines, Poland Springs water bottles are offered as well as other drinks in plastic water bottles. There is also a club at my school that sells reusable water bottles once a week. There is a big push among the students at my school to utilize these water bottles. There are also policies that some teachers impose that prohibit plastic water bottles in their classrooms. The entire world should be concerned with helping the environment in any way possible. I advocate the push towards reusable water bottles because of the plastic that is saved. Instead of making hundreds of thousands of water bottles that are used once, plastic and energy can be saved by making a fraction of that amount of water bottles that can be used for much longer.






  • The energy we waste using bottled water would be enough to power 190,000 homes
  • Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. However, the U.S.’s recycling rate for plastic is only 23 percent, which means 38 billion water bottles – more than $1 billion worth of plastic – are wasted each year
  • For about $10 each, you can purchase a 16-ounce or 32-ounce Nalgene bottle, saving you hundreds of dollars a year on bottled water

(facts obtained from: this website)

This is a very descriptive video showing the benefits of tap water vs bottled water:


I have created a game to model this decision faced by students in my school everyday. The players in this game would be the students in my school (consumers), and the other player would be my school (supplier). The students have the choice of plastic or reusable, while the school faces a similar choice in whether to supply reusable or plastic water bottles.


Students: One of the players in this game is the students in my school. The two strategies they have are buying reusable water bottles, or buying plastic water bottles. The cost of the reusable water bottles sold at my school are $35 each. Plastic water bottles are sold for $1.50. Though the plastic water bottles are cheaper in the short run, the daily purchase quickly adds up.

School: The other player is the school. The school has the option of selling plastic or reusable water bottles. My school is very liberal, and the school is covered with posters promoting environmental action. In this way, the school wants students to use reusable water bottles; however they would also like to make money from the plastic water bottles. In the end though, the school cares more about the environment than making money from water bottles.


(The Columns are the Students, and the Rows are the School)

Plastic Reusable
Plastic 0,-2 -1,1
Reusable -2,-2 2,1


Plastic, Plastic: The School receives a payout of 0 because though they earn money, the negative externalities nullify the payout. The students receive a payout of -2 because they lose money paying for the water bottle, and the payout is further worsened by the negative affect on the environment.

Plastic, Reusable: The school receives a payout of -1 because students choose reusable water bottles and in turn will not buy the plastic water bottles that the school offers. The students receive a payout of 1 because though they lose money buying the water bottle, there are positive affects on the environment.

Reusable, Plastic: The school receives a payout of -2 because, along with not making money from the students (demand for different product), the negative affects to the environment add to the negative payout. The students receive a payout of -2 because they lose money paying for the water bottle, and the payout is further worsened by the negative affect on the environment.

Reusable, Reusable: The school receives a payout of 2 because of the money made as well as the positive affects on the environment, and the students receive a payout of 1 because though they lose money buying the water bottle, there are positive affects on the environment.


In both the Consumer and the Suppliers’ cases, Reusable dominates Plastic, therefore the solution to the game is (2,1) where both the Consumer and the Supplier should choose Reusable water bottles over Plastic. This solution makes sense not only mathematically, but it is the clear choice by reason. Choosing Reusable water bottles is less expensive in the long run, and it is better for the environment. So use Reusable!



Plastic water bottles are used once, then thrown away. This means that the consumer is losing money by buying multiple water bottles per year, and the environment is also suffering from the waste. From the consumer’s perspective, it is clear that the reusable water bottle should be bought. It is cheaper to pay a moderate price once and use it everyday rather than paying a small price everyday. Also, the benefits to the environment is a large advantage for reusable water bottles. From the school’s perspective, they are making money either way, and in the case of my school, environmental protection is very important. Because of this, reusable water bottles is the clear choice for them.

My policy proposal is for the school to stop selling plastic water bottles and to ban plastic water bottles from school. This policy would force students to buy reusable water bottles should they want to drink water during school. This policy would limit the amount of plastic being thrown away and though the school is a small percentage of the world’s population, it will positively affect the environment.


The best way to take action is to start clubs at your own school. Schools and universities all across the country are taking action by promoting reusable water bottles. Talk with your own school’s administration and see what they can do about students using reusable water bottles as well as “going green” in other aspects of life. Maybe you don’t need to ban plastic water bottles from school, but give kids rewards for using reusable water bottles.

Another effective way to make your own voice heard is to follow organizations who’s main purpose is to influence people to use reusable water bottles. One of the bigger organizations is Ban the Bottle. I urge you all to take a look at their website.

Use social media to spread the word. Follow @banthebottle on twitter, and use #BanTheBottle.


Take this survey about reusable water bottles.


Comment on this page to get the discussion started:

Why do you use plastic or reusable water bottles?

How can we convince our friends and family members to use reusable water bottles?

Are there clubs at your schools or colleges concerning the environment and specifically reusable water bottles? How are these clubs taking action?

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