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Healthy Panic: This Water Bottle is Making Me Sigg

Healthy Panic: This Water Bottle is Making Me Sigg

Back when my child was first born, my wife and I went into an ill-advised, hyper-vigilance mode that consisted of removing all manner of PVC from our home, permanently recycling all plastic bottles and containers, and ceremoniously tossing the Teflon cookware. In addition, we stopped buying pesticide-laden foods in favor of organic and local items, and placed a filter on our tap water. Still that was not enough, as concerned friends and intrepid websites alerted us to the dangers of parabens, black mold, inorganic cotton, etc.

We were, by my assessment, wholly proactive and heedful when it came to making our limited domestic environment relatively healthy and free of egregious dangers. However, no matter how hard we tried, we still felt beleaguered and beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil corporate interests (to borrow a phrase from both the Bible and Pulp Fiction). This was made clear to me, after some sort of vexing encounter with a questionable consumer product, my wife responded with dire frustration saying, “No matter what we do, or how cautious we are, we still get duped by corporate greed mongers.” We were, understandably, in a healthy panic.

A few years on, we have relaxed a bit (as stress about these things will kill you well before the parabens and leeching plastic toxins will) and have learned to, in essence, do what we can. One of the feel good things we did was replace all of our plastic water bottles with Sigg aluminum water bottles, which we have been using daily for a few years.

Now comes the news that Swiss company Sigg, the ever-popular aluminum water bottle manufacturer, hadn’t been telling the entire truth about their stylish and fast selling product. It turns out that the key selling point for Sigg bottles (the “fact” that they were bisphenol-A, or BPA, free) was a bit of an overstatement, and they have rectified matters by now manufacturing bottles that were truly BPA free (see link for full explanation). Better late than never–maybe?

Now, I sat on this story for a little over ten days until I was able to gather enough information and give it enough time to hear back from a Sigg bottle representative. While the bottles, formerly made with a liner that had a proprietary liner with trace amounts of BPA (none of which leeches into the water or contents of the bottle, according to Sigg and an independent testing lab) the R&D at Sigg decided to retool their approach and supply consumers (as of August 2008) with a totally BPA free bottle. In addition, according to the email message I received back from Sigg and a press release that went out this past week, Sigg will gladly exchange any previously purchased Sigg bottle for one of their newer, safer, models.

Problem solved.

Well yes, but this revelation sparked a firestorm on the internet, blogs and Twitter accounts with all sorts of curses and expletives being aimed at Sigg. The response was swift, emotional, and indignant, as many of the Sigg faithful relayed their disappointment and outrage. It was received more a betrayal than it was your run-of-the-mill corporate malfeasance or oversight. Upon reading a few dozen blog posts, you got the feeling that people/customers took all of this very personally, as if a confidant or a benefactor suddenly revealed that they were not what they appeared to be. Even with mea culpas published and exchanges offered, there seemingly is a significant breach of trust here as the healthy panic proceeds.

Beyond this particular case, there seems to be a general feeling among watchful consumers that nothing is safe or sacred in the consumer world. Organic spinach shows up in bags tainted with E Coli, peanuts are laden with salmonella, and now the relative safety of our aluminum bottles is seemingly relative. Are we justified in our skepticism? Is this much ado about nothing? Have we become a consumer culture held victim in our healthy (or unhealthy) panic?

Read more: Blogs, Children, General Health, News & Issues, Parenting at the Crossroads, Reduce, Recycle & Reuse, , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

53 comments

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11:52PM PDT on Oct 8, 2013

As I tried to avoid the use of plastic bottles, we have been avid users of Sigg bottles.
Buy a new one every year.
The kids have been taking them to school daily for years.
I rinse them after each use and brush them with a baby bottle brush.
But for some time I have asked myself if the black mold building up on the inside of the bottle isn't more harmful for our health than the BPA in some bottles.
Has anyone experienced the same with Sigg bottles.
Or can anyone tell me how harmful this black mold is for the health of my child???

6:58PM PDT on Jun 3, 2013

Thank you for info.

6:57PM PDT on Jun 3, 2013

Thank you for info.

6:56PM PDT on Jun 3, 2013

Thank you for info.

11:10PM PST on Jan 24, 2012

Thank you.

10:21PM PST on Feb 3, 2010

Thanks.

6:22AM PDT on Sep 20, 2009

I personally reach for a glass. This plastic thing really scares me.

12:04AM PDT on Sep 19, 2009

Oh, forgot to mention this... Most people don't know that Fluoride is an actual natural mineral found in the ground.

So if you have a well, it is important to test to make sure that it doesn't run into Fluoride veins; you could very well be taking in more Fluoride from even natural ground-water than is allowed in the municipal supply.

Bottled water of any sort is iffy as it is, but even if it's gotten from a spring or a well, it could also still have fluoride, and that often isn't regulated along with other possible toxins that might appear in it. Even the 'added minerals' it contains could include Fluoride; for some reason they aren't required to say what minerals were included.

Just stuff to consider.

6:39PM PDT on Sep 12, 2009

Referring again to fluoride toothpaste which I brought up in an earlier comment... I read the labels more, and Tom's Natural toothpaste (the one with Fluoride; they have one without fluoride too for those who don't feel the need to rebuild enamel) has a calcium compound in it, and the fluoride source itself IS a calcium compound. I dunno if it'll actually bind to the enamel that way or not, but it's very possible that it's more effective than traditional. So, that's a second possible option for actual effective toothpaste (the other in my previous comment).

11:11AM PDT on Sep 11, 2009

I just want to say I have now tried 3 or 4 so-called "proper" bottles for carrying around my personal water supply daily. Three of the four leaked when turned sideways, and all of them imparted a "funny" taste to the water I fill them with (Culligan R/O filtered water, which tastes just great to me out of their tap). I have not been at all satisfied with any of these bottles. I prefer to re-use a regular-old-16 oz. bottle of purchased drinking water. I refill it for as long as 6-8 weeks and then discard it and buy another one. I find that the slightly heavier plastic ones (such as Dasani) last well, squeeze well, and don't leak. If I lose it somewhere I haven't lost 6 or 7 dollars out of pocket to replace it. Naturally I keep them out of the sun, out of my car, etc. to lessen problems of leaching. I don't taste anything strange in my water using these bottles in this fashion. The same cannot unfortunately be said for all the "permanent" bottles I've bought. Am I wrong to trust my taste buds to determine if the water is being contaminated by chemicals? I hope not. And yes, I do think a lot of companies are taking advantage of us "concerned-with-our-health" folks by touting dubious products as various panaceas.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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