La Habra High School senior Natalia Losoya has two Hydro Flasks. She first got a 40-ounce blueberry-colored bottle to use for soccer practice and later scooped up an 18-ounce bottle to keep in her car. She enjoys how well it keeps her water cold, and noted that it's cheaper to buy a canteen than keep shelling out for single-use bottles of water.
Environmental and health concerns, meanwhile, got her mother to jump on the bandwagon. "We recycle everything, so when I got a Hydro and told my mom, who is really health-conscious and knows about chemicals that are in water bottles, she freaked out over it and wanted one," Natalia said.
Those motivators drive a lot of younger people toward the reusable bottles as well.
Fears about the effects of climate change have created a wave of activism among people in their teens and twenties, led most prominently by 17-year-old Greta Thunberg and motivated by a desire to protect their futures. A 2019 Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that more than 7 in 10 teenagers believe climate change will make a visible impact in their lifetimes.
"In a generation growing up in the shadow of climate change, there are very few public ways to show off your commitment to better the environment than carrying a reusable water bottle," said Wilk, the anthropology professor.
Ella Lin is taking it a step further. As part of a school project focusing on students' passions, she's urging her peers to cut down on trash by embracing reusable items. Recycling is good too, she's telling them, but only second best: "We should start by trying to reduce our waste."
Hydro Flask is also benefiting from the soaring amount of attention Americans are paying to wellness and self-care.
U.S. consumer spending on health-related products and services soared 27% from 2013 to 2018 and isn't expected to slow anytime soon, according to market research firm Mintel, which projected that the spending would balloon an additional 21% over the next five years.
Broadly, the category includes medical and mental-health activities but also encompasses exercising, cooking healthful meals, and drinking enough water.
Whitney, the Palos Verdes High junior, recalls there was a time when she wouldn't drink water at all. "As soon as I got (the Hydro Flask), I started drinking more and more water," she said. "I felt better."
Allan, the CEO, said young people resonate with Hydro Flask because of their attitude toward life: "wanting to be outside, wanting to be healthier, wanting to take care of themselves and their planet and just wanting to be happier too."
After nearly eight years at the helm, Allan will step down in March. The move is part of a multiyear plan, according to Helen of Troy, which said it won't immediately fill his role. Allan told SGB Media last month that the goals he initially set were "largely achieved."
An ongoing project, he told The Times, is for the company to improve its sustainability practices. It has tapped outdoor companies such as REI and Columbia Sportswear to learn about sourcing and labor conditions, and it's trying to make more recyclable packaging, he said.
Most Hydro Flask products are made in China, where, he said, factory employees and third-party companies do audits and drop-ins to ensure a "toxic-free environment" and uphold safe working conditions.
Back in Newport Beach, Ella Lin's Christmastime excitement hasn't worn off. Her mother, Alison Yap, said the sixth-grader still uses her Hydro Flask every day. She cleans and refills it when she gets home from school. Before going to dance class, she'll add some ice.
Stickers and drawings aren't her style: She has kept the bottle sleek and pristine. "I love taking it to school and drinking out of it," she said. "I feel confident ... just holding it."
(Times staff writer James F. Peltz contributed to this report.) ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.