Saturday, June 4, 2011

Finally! A Portable Glass Water Bottle

My choice of portable water bottle is a perpetual conundrum for me.

Plastic has the longest list of undesirable features. For starters I honestly can't stand the taste of water sitting in plastic. Then, beyond taste, there is the issue of the plastic chemicals leaching into the water causing all sorts of potential health problems. While bisphenol-a (BPA) is the newest culprit on that list, the issues of plastic-leaching containers has been around for decades. Over thirty years ago I worked for the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) where in the early 1980s a brilliant scientist named Walter Hang (who now works for Toxics Targeting) released a ground-breaking report about HDPE plastic (commonly used in one-gallon water jugs and milk containers) leaching into water and milk. While true that harder plastics seem to leach less than softer plastics, the recent BPA reports have shown that all sorts of plastics have potential problems. As if that weren't enough, there is the perennial predicament of the environmental consequences of plastic manufacturing and disposal. So while plastic bottles are light and seemingly easy, they fail as a good choice on many other counts.

The next light-weight option is aluminum. I do not use aluminum cookware or anti-perspirants made with aluminum—any substance that might contribute to my already challenged memory I try to avoid  as best I can. So needless to say, sipping water from an aluminum bottle is not high on my list.

Then there is stainless steel, or at least what we are told is stainless steel. Some may say I am too picky, but I suspect that a lot of what is sold as stainless steel is not, but rather mixed with metals that I would rather not be drinking from.  That, coupled with the metallic taste, makes stainless steel a tempting but non-option for me.

This leaves me with glass or gourds. Sadly, gourds are not practical. Glass would be perfect were it not for it being heavy, highly breakable, and difficult to find the correct bottle shape for both drinking and cleaning (that is, wide enough to clean, but narrow enough to drink from comfortably without dripping everywhere).

You can see why walking out of the house (or lodging when I am traveling) with a water bottle poses such a dilemma for me.

I am happy to report that I have found the answer to my quandary. Based in neighboring Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the Bamboo Bottle Company has designed a water bottle comprised of glass, BPA-free plastic and bamboo.

This is how it works. The actual bottle is made of sturdy glass (made with 51% recycled glass) which can hold hot or cold beverages— a huge advantage over plastic. The mouth of the bottle meets my requirements—wide enough for easy cleaning, while appropriately-sized for dripless drinking. The BPA-free plastic provides the nuts and bolts of the bottle, keeping the glass in its protective and insulating bamboo casing. The components disassemble for cleaning—you can hand wash the glass bottle or put it in a dishwasher (the plastic parts can go in the dishwasher as well, but keep the bamboo sleeve out of the machine and even the sink—simply wipe clean with a damp cloth for the longest life).

The Bamboo Bottle holds just over a pint (16 ounces) of liquid and has a thermos-like feel to it. With the top on, the bottle is 10.25 inches tall and 3 inches in diameter, just making the size-cut for my small hands.

No plastic or metallic after-taste or leaching—check. No exposed, breakable glass—check. Reusable, low-impact materials with a long-life span—check. While close to perfection, I do hold out hope that some day the plastic parts can be made from a sustainable, non-polluting material (the company says they are aiming for plastic-free in the future). Until then, I will be happy with my Bamboo Bottle and cross the search for the perfect water-bottle off my to-do list.

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