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New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

The student news site of New Trier High School

New Trier News

Toxic waters: Cup craze supports risky finances, not people

As teens head to the stores to buy the new Stanley tumbler and other cups, they should consider the cost above the new design
Owala, Hydro Flask, and Stanley are three of the most popular, trendy water bottle brands

People are complex—and so is where they turn to for academic and social-emotional support. At New Trier High School, for instance, students who are anxious or upset can take control of their emotions by accessing friends, teachers, advisers, or social workers. For some students, water bottles are another option. 

On social media, #emotionalsupportwaterbottles has garnered traction over the past few years, with 316.5 million views on TikTok as of January 2024. Across New Trier, students sip out of their water bottles not only to stay hydrated but also for style. These metal objects are seen and taken everywhere, and people across the country are just as obsessed as New Trier students (maybe even more).  

In a capitalist society, products lose value when companies produce more. The same happens when consumers purchase items many times—they lose sentimental value. 

Last December, people rushed to purchase a Valentine’s Day-themed Stanley cup, which sold out soon after it came out. As some buy cups, some may choose to steal them. In January, police officers in Roseville, California, took a woman into custody for allegedly stealing $2500 worth of Stanley cups.

The obsession over the Stanley tumblers sparked a major shift for the company. Founded in 1913, Stanley started out geared toward men who were hikers or construction site workers. However, when social media influencers took up and promoted the tumblers, the company’s target market shifted to women. That resulted in a rise in popularity that broke the charts. Between 2019 and 2023, Stanley’s yearly earnings jumped from $73 million to $750 million. 

It is important to note that controversy has recently surfaced over how Stanley uses lead in its products, which has caused many to disown the company but not the trend. 

The craze over having the trendiest water bottle extends so far that many vie to stay up-to-date on the latest trend, whether that is, for instance, Stanley, Owala, Hydro Flask, or S’well. That not only pushes people to succumb to peer pressure but also to adopt impulses that hurt their bank accounts. 

This poses a concern for teens starting to dip their toes into the world of financial literacy. 

Many teens work part-time as camp counselors, cashiers, or hosts to earn money, which opens them up to many questions on how to spend their newly earned money. No longer needing their parent’s credit card, they enjoy newfound buying power.

“What do I buy?” “How much do I buy?” “When should I stop buying?”

The answers to those questions vary per person, but due to the dominance of online shopping, “never” has become a more feasible answer to the last question. Nowadays, it is so easy to buy the popular Stanley Tumbler or Owala FreeSip, priced at $45 (40 ounces) and $27.99 (24 ounces) at the touch of a button. 

It is okay to purchase one or even two water bottles because each setting, whether academic, extracurricular, or athletic, may require a different color, size, or design. Beyond that, however, when teens buy just because they can and do not need the item, that could lead them to develop unsatisfactory financial literacy skills. 

When teens leave high school and gain more independence—as a person and a consumer—they soon see money is not a tool to make fun but a tool for survival.

They need to pay for household basics, such as water and electricity, and day-to-day purchases as they would as a teen while having the hassle now of long-term debt, such as paying back student loans. 

Every cent counts now, but because of their past habits, these teens have set themselves up for a rude awakening in learning how to be financially responsible. However, some may never wake up from the freedom their teenage years afforded them, but what adulthood shrieks at. 

There is also the emotional impact that excessive buying causes. 

In a capitalist society, products lose value when companies produce more. The same happens when consumers purchase items many times—they lose sentimental value. 

If #emotionalsupportwaterbottles wants to prosper correctly, people must stay true to their water bottles and not abandon them for new ones. 

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