Ms. Prescod said encouraging this habit helps distract from the bad news and political vitriol that has characterized the past year. “I think the reason it’s catching on so much is because it’s a healthy thing. Drinking water cannot be bad, it cannot be controversial in any way shape or form,” she said. (The only downside she has found is that her habit can interfere with work productivity. “I keep getting interrupted because I have to go to the bathroom so much,” she said.)
Carrying a particular water bottle has signified cultural cachet in America for three decades, said Anita Rose, a writer in Virginia who is an amateur historian dedicated to 1990s arcana and who sees bottled water and water bottles as pop-culture totems.
From Evian bottles littered around Shelley Long in the 1989 film “Troop Beverly Hills” to the Naya bottle tucked in the golden carrier of Alicia Silverstone’s character Cher in 1995’s “Clueless” to the Hydro Flasks favored by today’s VSCO Girls, “Keeping a bottle of water in hand makes it look like you’re healthy and it became a status symbol,” said Ms. Rose, 37.
The idea that a person should drink eight glasses of water a day (about a half-gallon), comes from nutritional recommendations issued more than 70 years ago, said Aaron Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine who has written about health myths (and has contributed to The New York Times). Those recommendations accounted for water ingested from other sources like fruits, vegetables, coffee and even beer.
But drinking an additional gallon of water every day, or even a half a gallon, is neither necessary nor harmful for most people, he said. “For the vast majority of people, it’s not a terrible idea to drink a half-gallon a day,” he said, especially if the water ends up replacing sugary beverages like soda. “But the idea that you have to do it is somewhat strange and the main result will be that you end up peeing more.”
There are more economical ways of motivating your hydration than buying a bottle from Amazon. In August, Vandie Barnard, 30, a fitness and wellness coach in Woodbridge, Va., wanted to increase his water intake. His wife, Lakisha Barnard, 32, suggested that they make their own version of water bottles she had seen on social media. They went to the supermarket and bought gallon-sized plastic bottles of water and wrote encouraging quotes, like “Start Great” and “Be Greater” with a Sharpie pen on the bottles. They guzzled and refilled daily.