“I do believe that there will be a time when we look back and say, ‘Oh yeah, that was the plastic age. Look what we did to ourselves.’ And to be honest, I think the plastic footprint is a greater risk to the health of our environment, to the people here and to the marine species for sure, than the carbon footprint.” – Bill Francis, president of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation as quoted in popularmechanics.com in an article by Chris Ladd.
I agree with Bill Francis and believe that the number one choice we can make in cleaning up our planet, making our lives greener and helping our children be healthier, is giving up disposable plastic bottles, water and otherwise.
When I started writing this post, I thought that the title’s question was one with many answers, depending on individual preference. But in researching the companies behind four stainless steel and three glass bottles, I came to realize that one company in each category, and one company overall, is the best; when you couch that judgment in terms of environmental and humanitarian stewardship. I also know that the “best” option can be decided by sheer practicality: the bottle that is best for writing about water bottles at your desk is not necessarily the best for climbing Half Dome.
1. Klean Kanteen: Responsibly Made in China, “The original BPA-free stainless steel bottle.” Klean Kanteen goes to the greatest lengths to be transparent in all of their practices, and they go to the greatest lengths to be sustainable, kind to their workers and charitable to non-profits. They are a member of 1% For The Planet. They also make bottles for kids and babies. If you want to support a company for their small footprint, their large hearts and their commitment to sustainability, Klean Kanteen is your first choice (and mine too).
2. Blue Q: It says “Made in the USA” on the bottom of the bottle, but I’m having a hard time getting a hold of anyone there. As soon as I do, I’ll confirm or deny. 1% of sales of water bottles go to The Nature Conservancy. They support and employ local people with disabilities and brain injuries. Their graphics are fabulously left of center.
3. Earthlust: Ethically Made in China: “Our bottles are made from high quality materials and are created from our own custom mold. They are…designed and tested in California.” I own one and I think their graphics are the most lovely I’ve seen, and not just on a water bottle. I want most of their images on a pillow or t-shirt or rug or coffee mug, or, or, or.
4. Sigg: “Responsibly Manufactured in China.” No photos, videos, images or other documentation of their China facilities are on their website, and they make no mention of sustainable practices, except that Switzerland is one of the greenest countries in the world. Which it probably is, but I’d still like to see some stats of stewardship and community participation.
1. Be Truly You: Made In the USA! Also Made In Canada and China. “Eco-friendly, soul-friendly”. Be Truly You is transparent about their practices, they give back to the local community and are working towards having, “all of our bottles manufactured in the U.S., as close to home as possible.” The Metro bottle is currently US-manufactured. Their graphics are cute and whimsical, spiritual and meaningful.
2. Love Bottle: “Responsibly Made In China.” No photos, videos, images or other documentation of their China facilities are on their website. “Did you know that words and pictures have energy and water is affected by that energy?” The idea behind Love Bottle is sweet and lovely. I don’t find their graphics compelling, and they mention no commitment to sustainability practices or community or social stewardship. They are better for the environment than plastic in that glass is recyclable.
3. Life Factory: Made In France, Poland and the US (each bottle has a part made in one of these places). No photos, videos, images or other documentation of their facilities are on their website and no mention is made of sustainability practices or humanitarian stewardship. They do state that their bottles are made to last a lifetime.
I give so much attention to manufacturing location, because it is an important factor in sustainability practices. The carbon footprint of moving a product back and forth all over the world until it’s sitting in your hand can be a big carbon footprint. Hence, we give extra applause to products made here in the US.
Personally, I love drinking water out of a glass bottle. It feels really nice. My favorite is a Kombucha bottle I saved and washed. It’s a great size, a great shape and reminds me of an old medicine bottle from the 19th century. (I have a thing for old bottles). But since I drink something or other (usually fizzy water or juice) out of glass bottles every week, and have a hobby of collecting beach glass (some of which is still in bottle form), I find it unsustainable that a company manufactures brand new glass bottles. If someone were doing so out of recycled glass, I could get behind that. Otherwise, I prefer to support the stainless steel folks and refill my Kombucha, Calistoga (best bet for bottled water as it’s made here in California), Perier or Gerolsteiner bottle.