Saturday, April 19, 2008

Nalgene - Now what? Why no buy-back option?

I can't think of a single geologist/paleontologist I know who has not owned at least one Nalgene bottle sometime in their life. I know I am the owner of at least 5. But now my "cute" newer colored Nalgenes are forced to find a new use due to their condemned status. In case you have not heard, some Nalgene's contain the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) - a common building block of hard polycarbonate plastics. To check and see if your bottle contains BPA just turn it over and look for a '7' inside a triangle design (see picture).

Nalgene announced Friday
that it will phase out the use of BPA in their bottles and offer this website to help you find a new alternative (at your own cost. See the last paragraph of this blog for other alternative water bottles.). It would be nice it Nalgene would take the initiative to offer a buy-back program where we could turn in our #7 bottles for safe ones, to help offset our cost. I know I bought my bottles because I knew they would last for a very long time. And now more than half of my bottles are useless for the purpose I bought them for. Rather irritating! What am I going to do with them now? I am hoping someone at ReadyMade turns it into a contest. Who knows, maybe I will turn them into lamps or pencil holders, or something (offer some ideas, please!!).

Canada sees the harm, US waits:

"Because BPA mimics estrogen, there has been increasing concern that exposure, especially by fetuses, newborns, and infants, may cause long-term health impacts such as early puberty in girls, reproductive problems, and cancers later in life."

"...Canada’s Minister of Health, Tony Clement, declared that the Canadian government is taking action to reduce BPA exposure, especially in newborns and infants.

“We have immediately taken action on bisphenol-A (BPA) because we believe it is our responsibility to ensure families, Canadians and our environment are not exposed to a potentially harmful chemical,” said Clement.

The Government of Canada is proposing a ban on polycarbonate baby bottles and strict limits on BPA in infant formula cans. The government is also seeking to work with industry to develop alternative food packaging....

On Tuesday, the US's National Institute of Health’s National Toxicology Program (NTP) released its draft brief on BPA, which found that current levels of exposure to the chemical did pose “some concern” for fetuses, infants, and children. The main concerns were that exposures in these groups could potentially cause neural and behavioral problems, impact the prostate and mammary glands, and contribute to earlier onset of puberty in girls....

There are no immediate plans in the U.S. to regulate BPA in food and beverage containers....Although no regulatory agencies are required to take the report’s findings into account, Bucher says that some agencies—such as the FDA, the EPA, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission—could choose to use the NTP’s findings on BPA. Most likely, these agencies will, at the very least, wait until the draft report has been through a peer review process, which is scheduled for June 11, 2008."[link]

side note: So, why are those " last Nalgene Bottle"s stickers on my bottles (see top picture)? Last summer I went to a hippie fair at a park in Boulder, which I really enjoyed. There were all sorts of folks there, including PETA and Rock Mountain Animal Defense (RMAD). I am not a vegan or even a vegetarian, don't get me wrong, I love my meat, as many of you who know me can attest to. If veggies would evolve to taste good I would love to just eat them and let the animals be. I think being a vegetarian is a great idea in theory, just not my thing.

Anyway, the RMAD People showed me an article about Nalgene making contraptions to hold bunnies for lab testing and other animal testing supplies. NOT COOL! ("Nalge dropped this device from its catalog shortly after the boycott began. RMAD has been unable to confirm, however, that the company in fact no longer sells it.").

Nalgene counteracts by saying: "Nalge Nunc International realizes that animal research is essential to medical research. There is no laboratory procedure or computer simulation that can reproduce the complex systems of a living organism. There is nothing short of controlled animal research that can prove the safety and efficacy of a drug or surgical procedure. Without animal research, there would be no polio vaccine, no heart by-pass surgery, no chemotherapy and no insulin. Without animal research, we will never be able to cure AIDS, multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer's."

Some of these comments are misleading (details here, half way down page). And, as I like some animals more than some people, I do not see the point in animal testing. Why should convicted murders get a free ride in a state owned 'hotel' (although not as cushy)? - put them to use. Ok, so maybe thats a bit harsh. I just think with all of our "intelligence" we could find a way to do things without hurting the other organisms that we share the planet with. Why are we so superior?

If you should feel so inclined you can write to Nalgene and let them know how you feel about this (your opinion is your own and always valuable, whatever side you fall on): Mr. Craig Jack, President, Nalge Nunc International, 75 Panorama Creek Drive, Rochester, NY 14625

*end of todays hippie rant*

So, if that bothers you, check out the GSI Outboor lexan bottles (recommended by RMAD) or the Klean Kanteen. RMAD notes that "The GSI Outdoor bottle, like the Nalge bottle, is made with a polycarbonate plastic developed by General Electric, a multi-national corporation that is the subject of numerous boycotts. The difference between GSI and Nalge is that Nalge supports and directly profits from animal research." I also can not confirm that they do not contain BPA, as I do not own one, so look for the #7 on the bottom before you buy one or contact the manufacture. The Klean Kanteens "are made from #304 stainless steel, the material of choice in the food processing, dairy, and brewery industries. Stainless steel is easy to clean, durable, inert, sanitary, toxin-free, and non-leaching."[link] Unfortunatly, they are made in China. I guess there is always the good and the bad.

Thanks for reading all of this ;)


C W Magee said...

I haven't used Nalgene bottles since I was a kid and my mom bought them for me. When I hiked the Appalachian trail, I put some thought into the whole watter bottle issue. When I was in boy scouts, I had nalgene bottles shatter on me, so I wanted something that was more reliable. I finally decided that PET soda-pop bottles were preferable for the following reasons:
1. they are much lighter, so you aren't hauling deadweight up and down the mountains.
2. they are a quarter of the price.
3. The come with a free serving of coke.

They are also practically indestructible, unless you leave them too close to the fire. Although I did fine that the ones with the metal caps instead of the plastic ones were a problem, because if you drop the metal ones on the cap, it can get dented and then it won't seal anymore. They last 6 months to a year, which is the time frame in which nalgene starts to deplasticize/ photo disassociate anyway.

It takes about 5 or six washes to get rid of the carbonic acid taste, but after that they rule.

As for metal bottles, I once filled a comrade's Sigg bottle with kerosene, on the assumption that any metal container must be for fuel use. Luckily he sniffed before he tasted.

ReBecca Hunt-Foster said...

I have done that before also, usually because I forget my nalgenes all the time when I go on trips. They do last a long time. My fiance probably has a dozen bottles that he uses for water every day.

traumador said...

Scary! I've been using and drinking from nalgenes almost everyday for the last decade!!!

Been reading the blog for a while now, but never bothered to leave a comment. Love it. Can't wait to read more...

ReBecca Hunt-Foster said...

Thanks :) Please keep coming back!

I have been drinking out of my bottles for a long time too. I am glad I still have my old school white one I can use.

Amanda said...

I bought a Kleen Kanteen a few months ago. I love's very lightweight, carries 40 oz, keeps my water cool (unless it's in the sun) and the water tastes really good.

Cons: dents easily, not as durable as a Nalge, hard to wash (the lip is thinner than the bottle) and more expensive (23$).

I'm pretty happy with it, anyway.

C W Magee said...

Also, it is worth pointing out that all of the data regarding the toxicity of BPA comes from animal studies...

ReBecca Hunt-Foster said...

A very good, although sad, point!