Reusable Water Bottles

If you don’t have a reusable
bottle already, you are
underestimating how
much joy it can bring you.

Buying BPA-Free Does Not Guarantee Your Bottle is “Safe”.

What is BPA and why is it bad?

Bisphenol- A, or BPA is not the only chemical to be concerned about when you are choosing a reusable water bottle. BPA is an industrial chemical used in plastics and resins. It has ‘sister’ chemicals like BPS and BPF. The reason BPA is used, is for its ability to make plastics strong, sturdy, “shatter-proof”. It is so strong in fact, that it is used to make bullet-proof glass. However, this amazing physical strength does not protect you from BPA leaching into your food and water. 

BPA is known to be an endocrine disruptor, also known as a hormone disruptor. If you are thinking, “Hey, that doesn’t sound so bad”, think again. Hormones regulate or play a role in nearly every part of our bodies, which is why the list of harmful side effects from BPA exposure or ingestion is so long, including:

  • Infertility in men and women (think higher miscarriages, lower egg production,  lower sperm count, and even some studies say lower sexual satisfaction for men)
  • Side effects in children and infants include: lower birth weight, hypertension, depression, anxiety, and affected hormonal development (big problem).
  • Increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Increased risk of high blood pressure and heart disease
  • Thyroid impairment leading to: exhaustion, weight gain, hair loss, depression, difficulty concentrating or focusing, and increased bleeding during menstrual cycle.

If BPA is so bad, why don’t we ban it?

Many countries like Canada, the EU, China, Malaysia, and several U.S. states have banned BPA in some form. A full ban has been avoided due to conflicting studies that say BPA is safe in “low doses”. 

In 2012, the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) banned the use of BPA in baby bottles and sippy cups, since children are hormonally vulnerable and BPA can have severe effects on them. However, to this day, the FDA still allows “low levels” of BPA to occur in food products. There are many studies (which are often industry funded, think plastic producing) that show BPA is “okay” in low doses. However, MANY non-industry funded studies show that BPA, even in low-doses, can have negative health effects. It was shown in both tests with mice and monkeys that BPA can interfere negatively with health even in low doses. 

People that use a lot of products that contain BPA, BPS, or BPF: like plastic food containers, coffee containers, canned food, water bottles, or others are more likely to have higher concentrations of BPA in their system. Sticking to a low-dose of BPA is difficult for anyone to regulate, since the average person is not testing their levels. But, it is safe to say, that if you are having a lot of contact with plastic products that contain BPA, BPS, or BPF, you may have high levels.

I am not sure if it’s because I just finished binge watching The Handmaid’s Tale or what, but the thought of large scale low fertility, and compromised child health, seems scary enough for me to call for a ban. 

Where Else Can BPA Be Found?

BPA is not only found in plastic, it is also used as a resin to seal things like the tin that our tin cans are made up of, you know, our canned food. BPA keeps the metal of the can from rusting and (ironically) keeps the metal from leaching into our food. Many companies have phased-out the use of BPA due to public backlash, but many have replaced them with BPS or BPF. This is a loophole in the rules that allows companies to put “BPA-Free” on their packaging, while still using similar harmful chemicals.

BPA exposure is made worse when exposed to heat (like the microwave, dishwasher, or a hot car). Leaving food or water in a plastic container in your car is not a good idea. Any time you feel yourself tasting that “plasticky” taste (water bottle in a hot car) or smelling a “plasticky” smell, it likely means your health is at risk. Many of us who grew up with plastic, and the smell of it, associate the plastic smell with being clean or sanitary. However, plastics can contain negative toxins, fumes, and chemicals that find their way into our body either by ingestion, air, or through the skin.

If you are looking for a general “rule of thumb” for avoiding BPA: avoid eating canned food and avoid food and drink conatainers that are made of plastic #’s 3 ,6, and 7. They are most likely to contain BPA, BPS, BPF, and other chemicals harmful to humans, such as phthalates. BPA makes its way into humans most commonly by diet, but it can also be breathed-in or taken in by the largest organ, the skin. Plastic #5 PP is generally considered “safe” for contact with food, yet it is still recommended not to heat it. With all we know about plastics and their ability to “leach” I think you will find me avoiding it all together. I don’t see the benefit in “risking it” when there are perfectly good alternatives. This means, sadly, no Nalgene Bottle for me. 

Sources: ABC Science, Healthline, Healthline, Business Insider, National Geographic, and How Not to Diet by Doctor Micheal Greger.

Aluminium vs Stainless Steel Bottle

Stainless Steel wins, I will tell you right now. 

Aluminum is a lighter option than stainless steel, which sounds great, especially for the backpacker side of me. However, it will also be more likely to “dent” than its rugged counterpart, stainless steel. Denting is the least of aluminum’s problems though.

Perhaps the most significant reason to avoid aluminium is that it NEEDS a liner between the metal and the the liquid contents. Without a liner, the aluminium reacts with the contents and can leach metal into your drinks. This means the resin-lining could be a plastic with, you guessed it, BPA. 

On the flip side, stainless steel (especially good stainless steel 18/8 food grade) is not porous or leaching. You can trust that you won’t compromise on health or taste. Stainless steel, is more durable, which is what I always look for in sustainability. I want quality products that are healthy for me, good for the planet, and will last a long time.

While stainless steel production does have some negative impacts on the environment, the bright side is that it can be recycled indefinitely. Plastic, on the other hand, only gets recycled once before being discarded to landfill. Plastic actually gets “down-cycled” into a lesser plastic when it is recycled, while stainless steel can be reused without losing any integrity.

*Stainless steel can occasionally be problematic for people with metal allergies since it contains a mix of metals (like nickel). 

Reusable Water Bottles To Buy

Below are companies that I have researched and feel confident are transparent about what it in their products. All are made of the high quality 18/8 grade stainless steal. A few of the companies other products contain lids or external bits that contain #5 PP plastic or silicone. However, it is simply another option. I of course opt for full stainless steel, plain as I can get. 

This New Zealand-based company started in a small town and has grown into a global brand. Despite this massive growth, the company has stuck to their values and continues to produce quality products.

It is the bottle that I own today.

Brand Origin: New Zealand
Produced in: China (the best “responsibly sourced” answer of all: Read Here.)
Personally Used? Yes.

This Australian brand sold me with how transparent they are on their site. Their Q & A section is informative and reassuring that you are getting a quality and safe product.

Brand Origin: Australian
Produced in: China (“responsibly sourced” according to their Q & A)
Personally Used? No.

This large U.S. brand has stuck to their values despite their growth and they offer this great plastic-free, quality grade stainless steel bottle. When you visit their site, they even encourage you to buy their bottle from local retailers, to help fund local businesses. I can roll with that.

They seem to genuinely care about their workers and work with third parties to assess how “well” their business is doing. The third parties assess their diversity, worker wellness, and more. This type of commitment points to a company who is trying.

Brand Origin: United States
Produced in: China (“responsibly sourced” according to their Q & A)
2019 Brand Impact Report (People, Planet, Product): Read Here
Personally Used? No.

I have to admit, I don’t fully know what materials are in this bottle. Some of their products seem to have lids or insulators made of “BPA- free plastic.” This particular bottle does seems to be made of only: stainless steel, bamboo, and a silicone seal.

The genuine-ness of the site and their donation to “Charity: Water” makes me happy to support them. Charity Water is a non-profit trying to bring water to disadvantaged areas around the world. Welly’s main goal may not be to keep plastic out of their products, but is to provide water for the world and I think that is cool.

Brand Origin: United States
Produced in: China (“responsibly sourced” according to their Q & A)
Personally Used? No.

Water Bottle Stickers

Some people feel very passionate about their stickers on their bottles and I wont be a hypocrite, because my water bottle and thermos are both covered in stickers. However, I have been thinking in recent years about the effect that stickers have on the environment. Not only are the stickers themselves plastic that needs to be disposed of at end-of-life, but if not removed properly from the bottles before recycling, they could affect the bottles ability to be recycled. In general, stickers should be able to be removed with hot water and a good scrub or rubbing alcohol. So, as long as we are all doing that, maybe it’s fine.

I would also argue that stickers in general should probably just stop existing though. Unless they are printed on compostable paper and created with non-toxic inks, they are just another bit of plastic that will end up polluting this Earth. Fruit stickers, I am looking at you.

Lead by example with the products you buy.

Share your example.

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