Grandma & Grandpa's Farm

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Eco-Green - Eco-Blues

Water Bottle or Bottled Water?

I was just taking a drink from my water bottle.

I play it dangerous since there is a "7" inside the recycling triangle embossed on the bottom of it. That means, I believe that it is made of a polycarbonate plastic that might release dangerous chemicals into the water I am drinking. We have been hearing a lot about "BPA" (Bisphenol A, an estrogen-like chemical.) and "phthalates" lately in the plastics particularly in sports water bottles and baby bottles. Are they called "Nalgene" water bottles? Some of the hard plastic water bottles are BPA free. Brita says their water filter jugs are BPA free for instance.

I have heard that there are a few important factors. One of them is that heat is a problem so not to use the bottles for hot liquids. Probably means that using them for tea and coffee is out... not that I would... but more to my mind that they probably aren't a good idea for heated formula. Babies are sensitive so I think I might steer clear from using the bottles for babies and young children in any case. Maybe even for nursing Moms. What happens in Mom doesn't stay in Mom.

Myself... well, I do use hot water for rinsing my bottle out, which might cause a release of the BPA. But I rinse and drain and then I will refill the bottle immediately with cold water and drain it again. Though originally I did that for the purpose of cooling the bottle down so it wouldn't heat up the water I was going to put to drink. Then I would put in clean cold water ad either put it in the fridge or take it to drink. I'm strange maybe... I drink tap water.

When I was a child I love water except for a short time during spring run-off when it grew murky and the City of Calgary added increased levels of chlorine for a week or so. But Calgary had very good quality, good tasting, if hard, water. We lived near the pumping station and it blasted from the pipe so cold the stream would turn your skin white in a flash! It felt colder than ice cubes! When I grew into teen-hood I drank less, drinking more juice and milk and later, pop. When our family moved to the Pacific coast here in BC's Metro Vancouver I expected we'd have the same nice water being in a mountain area with glacier covered mountains nearby... but the water didn't taste right to me. The chlorine byproducts caused me to get a rash on my skin and cramps in my stomach when I drank it straight from the tap.

Add a bit of juice crystals or even Koolaide and no problem. I discovered that if I left it in the fridge a short while - no cramps. That was how I figured it was a gaseous component. It was also something that the acid from a bit of lemon would take care of - or a Brita filter. It did take me 10 years to figure that out and I wasn't into bottled water. Eventually I discovered filtered water and probably why I enjoyed the water in many restaurants.

I started making sure I let my water breath in a pitcher in a fridge and I began drinking more water.

Here in Port Moody - though we are supposed to get our water from the same sources as the rest of Metro Vancouver - I haven't had the same problem with water straight from the tap. Go figure? It isn't that it has changed in other parts of Metro Van. But I am content. I did go for a while with a portable Brita filter water bottle.

Now, I have this Rubbermaid water bottle. It hold a bit over 600ml (20floz) and has a nice lid that snaps tight with one hand. I discovered the single serving iced teas intended for single serving bottled water too. I am diabetic and ultra sensitive to aspartame so the fact that most are sweetened with sucralose is really nice. There are a few bonuses: I can keep track of how much I am drinking. The bottle has a close able top which is a boon for working near a computer. Those iced teas have bunches of "flavonoids" which I am told are healthy for me. The bottle is trendy/geeky/novel enough that I have developed the habit to use it regularly. Despite the BPA thing I have even bought a second bottle so that I can have one cooling in the fridge while I am drinking from the other - which currently has Lipton Tea to Go Peach flavoured White Iced Tea in it. (At least for a little while.) Sometimes it just has water with a packet of unsweetened lemon or lime crystals in it.

I figure I drink a couple of those bottles of water a day in addition to a litre of tea.

I have a Brita Water Pitcher in the Fridge.... but I haven't had a filter in it for quite a while. I trust our water 99% of the time except for a very short time storms and mudslides increased the turbidity. Still I would use that filter before I would start buying bottled water. Perhaps if I were a trucker or someone like that travelling long distances away from familiar water I might. That in part is a matter that our bodies sometimes need time to get used to water and in part is because some places even in North America do not have quite as good a quality water as I am spoiled to have.

But why should I pay for bottled water when I have it on tap? I can reuse glasses at home and even my own bottles for carrying it around with me. I could even additionally filter it either on a pitcher or even on the tap or under counter. Why should I add to even the recycling burden by buying bottles of water?

It might be "green" to recycle bottles, but... isn't recycling wasteful when you can reduce and reuse first? Blue boxes are not the first step to Green!

Truly I do understand the convenience of being able to buy a bottle of trustable - in taste, safety, and consistency - water at a convenience store. It can be awkward to carry water everywhere and you might know enough to be able to plan for all the times you might need to have water some place. It is also nice to be able to reach for that choice instead of a soft drink or coffee. I also am obsessive compulsive enough to obsess on germs and appreciate a sterile first use bottle with a sterile product inside.

But, I like to think that I might be doing more for myself and the environment by having my multi-use water bottle and using tap water.

It does make me wonder at whether there are any disposal issues with water filters? I don't use them... and that would be for another article...

~ Darrell

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