Thursday, July 2, 2009

My Lonely Stainless Steel Water Bottle Has Friends! Go BPA-free!

Until a few years ago I always drank out of a #7 polycarbonate plastic water bottle. One went everywhere with me. The first one I owned I purchased fourteen years ago before I took off to Africa for the summer. By the end of a long hot day in a baking Land Cruiser the water in that thing was at least 80 degrees. I drank it anyway. It tasted like plastic. I didn't think then about the mess that plastic-tasting water could be doing to my endocrine system.

A few years ago I read the haunting book Our Stolen Future by Theo Colborn, Dianne Dumanoski and John Peter Myers. It goes into great detail about the history of hormone disrupting chemicals, mainly PCBs, DDT and bisphenol-A, which you may have heard referred to in the news recently as BPA.

Before I even finished the book I ran out and purchased a Klean Kanteen stainless steel water bottle
(seen to the left), hopefully
minimizing my exposure to BPA, the chemical used in hardened plastics and pretty much every plastic reusable water bottle (including mine) on the market. Plus it's used as a liner in metal food cans and cardboard baby formula containers. For a long time I was the only one at work who owned on. My prankster coworkers used to make fun of it, sinking it in some of our holding fish tanks and hiding it in bags of collected seaweed. One time they even hung it from a pipe on the ceiling with a cable tie. I took me three days before I could track it down even though I probably walked under it a hundred times.

Then slowly, one by one, more stainless steel water bottles appeared around the building.
I decided to do an experiment a few weeks ago to see how many I could find. I grabbed a bucket and started going from office to office, lab to lab and through the volunteer lounge. On a short-staffed Monday, in only about ten minutes, I rounded up eleven besides mine. When I went to return them after the photo shoot I saw four more up in the Research lab attached to backpacks piled up and ready to go on a collection dive. I'll have to do it again on a day when the whole staff is around. I bet I could find a few dozen.

A quick walk through our gift shop later that day reveled that we no longer sell plastic water bottles, even the BPA-free ones. All the water bottles we now sell sporting our aquarium's logo are stainless steel. Hooray!

So my lonely stainless steel water bottle now has friends. It makes me glad to know that most of my coworkers are trying to watch what they put in their bodies. We can't avoid all man-made chemicals, but we can do our best. Hopefully I'll never find it attached to a pipe ten feet off the floor again.

My local Representative, Ed Markey, is trying to get a BPA ban through congress. He was recently quoted as saying:

“It is clear that BPA poses serious health risks, especially to children,” said Rep. Markey. “Chicago’s decision adds to the momentum building across the country in support of a nationwide ban. Congress should quickly ban this toxin from all food and beverage containers so that parents can feed their children without worrying about poisonous chemicals.”

The BPA industry is of course pushing back, even trying to use a pregnant woman as a spokesperson. But this recently pregnant woman isn't buying it. I'll stick with the stainless steel for me and glass baby bottles for my kid.


  1. Kate,
    This is such useful information. I have been concerned over those plastic issues for years. And another thing that people are doing is microwaving in that stuff. Can you imagine what is leeching out? I am always preaching to my family about its dangers.

    On an unrelated issue, I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your thoughtful comments on my blog postings. I look forward to reading them. You are very insightful and give genuine feedback. You are so kind and sincere. Thank you very much. Oh, BTW- I like your mom's idea for writing obits, she's my kind of person.

  2. It's wonderful that people are finally getting the message. I personally feel that if I can avoid ingesting toxins ... then why the heck not. And truly, I'm baffled at how, in anyone's wildest imagination, plastic bottles could be considered healthy. Not only are the stainless steel bottles better for our bodies, they are better for the earth ... all those plastic bottles are just ruining the environment. We've found that the stainless steel varieties keep the water colder longer ... another benefit. Yay!

    Wonderful post!

    Small Footprints

  3. Rae, I stopped microwaving food in plastic years ago, the same jokester coworkers also made fun of my ceramic bowls when I heated up my lunch....and then slowly they all started using them too. ha! I'm glad you enjoy my comments as much as I enjoy reading your blog! :) And my mom is a very cool person, and my best friend too!

    Small: the added benefit of keeping your liquids colder longer is definitely a great bonus with the metal bottles! And thanks for your comment on the recycled toilet paper post as well. 6 squares is a good rule.

    thanks for visiting! -kate

  4. I have a couple of BPA free ones but I also have my faithful stainless steel. Where we are now I need the stainless to keep water cool in the summer.
    Those are some great looking bottles in the photo. I want the one on the far left, I haven't seen that design before.
    Excellent post,

  5. I've read a few articles on the dangers of drinking from plastic bottles but rationalized that if I did not carry it in the car during the summer, I couldn't get too much. I quit microwaving in plastic several years ago when I tasted the plastic on my food.

    I was surprised when you mentioned the chemical is used as a liner in metal food cans and in the cardboard packaging of baby food! We have very little canned food but this information gives incentive to do only fresh fruit and veggies and home canning in glass, of course.

    I am particularly concerned about the high cancer rates. Something is going on and it ain't good. :D A couple of stainless steel bottle are on my shopping list too.

  6. SQ: that lovely bottle on the left belongs to my fabulous intern, Daniella, it has all sorts of cool quotes on it, I have no idea where she got it from but I think it's a Sigg.

    Lynn. Yes, BPA is used to line most metal food cans (soup, veggies, anything like that) and any cardboard container with a metal lining like baby formula. Because I have a hormone imbalance that required medication that doesn't allow me to nurse my 9-month old is on the one organic formula I could find that comes in a plastic BPA-free container from Similac. I was absolutely floored when I was researching formula options that our government would actually ALLOW this hormone disruptor anywhere near baby food! Nuts.

    BPA and other plastic additives (the BPA-free bottles are still plastic) can pretty much cause every ailment currently afflicting humans right now (including the hormone imbalance I have), the cancer thing is just part of the picture. very scary.

    thanks for visiting and happy shopping! -kate

  7. Hi Kate

    Finally got back on your blog, the signal up here in the mountains has been really bad with my wee dial up lol got plenty of pictures and stufff done

    great post

    andy the dafthermit

    ps by the way i got that pictures of the bubble up on my gallery now so glad you enjoyed wandering there before andy the dafthermit

  8. hello Andy! I did check out your photo site last week, thanks for putting up that picture! I want to pick out another one I like to make the shipping to the States more worth it. I will place an order soon, promise, but I need to pick from so many fabulous photos I'm having a hard time deciding :) thanks for visiting! =kate


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