Water flows throughout our scriptures as a life giving force: we are baptized with water, our bodies need water to survive, and God is described as a well from which we can drink and thirst no more. For those of us with access to clean, safe drinking water water, it is easy to spend little time thinking about this commodity. However, I have recently been thinking about how I consume water and what this consumption means for me, my health, and for others.
I only drink bottled water when I have no other option. I support the think outside the bottle campaign and other efforts to reduce the privatization of water so that all may have clean, safe drinking water. Water is necessary for survival and should be a commodity to which all people have inexpensive and reliable access. Tap water in the U.S. is nearly always safe to consume without filtration and is strictly controlled and monitored. In contrast to tap water, bottled water is not as strictly regulated, carries a massive carbon footprint, and 8 out of 10 plastic bottles end up in landfills. The environmental impact of bottled water is devastating and strongly contributes to the destruction of God's good creation.
Knowing that bottled water is a bad option, I chose to use a polycarbonate Nalgene bottle. Every day new evidence surfaces about the potential dangers of Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical leached from certain plastics, most notably polycarbonate water bottles (generally listed as #7) and canned foods.
While I find it hard to justify buying a new water bottle when the risks of BPA continue to be listed as "negligible" for adults by the National Institutes for Health, I also do not want to ignore or minimize the potential risks of consuming BPA. The body of evidence against BPA grows steadily as more research is conducted. I am now beginning to avoid products containing BPA all together. The potential developmental risks for children are significantly greater according the National Institutes for Health report on BPA. The New American Dream offers a number of great resources for finding BPA free products for children.
Nalgene is now phasing out plastic bottles made with BPA in response to consumer demand for "safer" bottles. While some Eco-conscious consumers are switching to aluminum bottles, like SIGGs, or stainless steel bottles, like Klean Kanteens, I remain in limbo about what is truly the best water bottle option because no clear, conclusive, long term research provides evidence that any plastic, stainless steel, or aluminum bottles are 100% safe and free of leeching. Each option contains it own perks and risks.
What then is the best option for drinking water from the tap? I have decided to go the simple, sustainable, natural, and ecofriendly way of using and reusing a glass bottle. Glass is a great option because it is infinitely recyclable, easily cleaned, readily sterilized, free from chemical leeching, and inexpensive. Unfortunately glass is breakable and not well suited to adventurous hikes, so I will hold onto my Nalgene for those purposes. I am also excited to craft some sort of casing out of knitted or crocheted wool to help insulate and protect my glass bottle. If I develop a great bottle covering/carrying option I will be sure to include it in a future post. Until then happy and safe drinking!