For the past several years, I’ve noticed people toting what seems to me a curious accessory. They come in all sizes and shapes, and many of my friends won’t leave home without one: water bottles

They’re everywhere, and that’s hardly an exaggeration. Look around you; they’re on your co-worker’s desk; or clipped to a passenger’s backpack at the airport; cradled in the crook of an elbow on the bus; in the cupholder of a stroller walking down the sidewalk. They are so common that most water fountains now have a special thing-a-ma-jig to fill them up.

We sure take our water seriously – so seriously, in fact, that our bottles now are both fashion statement and status symbol; stainless steel or reusable plastic; loop cap; collapsible; wide mouth, straw lid, or flip top; BPA free? (I don’t even really know what that last one means, I just noticed that listed as an important selling feature when I was doing research.)

A note to the uninitiated: since single-use plastic is currently a no-no, the bottled water ship seems to have sailed, with good reason as they are such a significant source of waste. In a pinch, though, I’ve observed even the most eco-minded succumbing to their easy accessibility. I guess when you’re thirsty, you’re thirsty.

At any rate, the point of a water bottle goes beyond the obvious of staying hydrated. The brand you carry says as much about you as your college sweatshirt, I’m told, and depending on your tastes, buying one can put you back a mere five bucks or more than a whopping $100. I own a couple of water bottles, all given to me or won in raffles or giveaways of some sort, most advertising a company or organization.

I did buy a one-litre Tupperware water bottle, but I don’t think it’s ever seen the outside of my kitchen cupboard. I’m not sure what that reveals about me exactly, but I just don’t drink a lot of water when I’m not home, so it hasn’t really crossed my mind to analyze my choices.

This water-bottle fad recently drew the attention of The New York Times, which devoted a fascinating story to the how and why of a beverage that is, essentially and historically, pretty boring. The story noted the prevalence of 2020 New Year’s resolutions from people who vowed to drink more water.

Truly, we are obsessed with hydration. Bottled water, the kind we actually pay for despite how pristine the water coming out of taps may be in most places, shot past soft drinks as the top purchased beverage by volume in North America in 2017, and sales have continued to go up,

The Times reporter wrote: “Water, in recent years, has been imbued with the powers of a mysterious elixir.”

Indeed, water apparently can solve any health problem you might have, if the Internet is accurate. Do you have wrinkles, are you tired, trying to lose weight? Good ol’ H2O is your answer, apparently. In fact, just carrying around a bottle with this potent potion tells the world that you’re a self-aware, conscientious, and successful person. You can also go as far as tracking your consumption with an app on your phone, which will prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, how committed you are to hydration.

And if you really, really, really want to get creative about what you drink, you can also make sure your fancy-schmancy bottle serves as a sacred receptacle to vitamin water, artesian water, mineral water, or any of the other variations, both real and created by companies to sound cool and make you think you’re getting something more beneficial and exotic than regular water (which I’m sure you probably aren’t, in most cases).

I don’t drink pop or juice or milk. When I quit pop consumption more than a decade ago, I switched to exclusively water, and now that I have also completely cut sugar from my diet, it’s literally all I drink, except for coffee in the morning. I don’t count or measure it in any way, the amount or my consumption, but I feel like I have enough. And, while this might be decreasing my cool factor, I can tell you for sure that it’s from the tap in my house, poured into a glass from my cupboard.

I won’t just you based on your water-drinking habits or the vessel you choose to use. My only advice is, if you’re going to join the cool, hydrated crowd, always be within range of a bathroom.