The SIGG water bottle controversy and the water bottle conundrum

A recent letter from the CEO of SIGG, revealing that their metal water bottles made prior to August 2008 had liners with trace amounts of bisphenol A (BPA) has stirred up a lot of anger, disappointment and disgust. I think this is understandable, since SIGG's marketing has heavily emphasized their 'green' and 'better alternative to disposable plastic' qualities. If you think about it, whether a particular plastic is harmful to the human body or not is not the same as whether disposable plastic is harmful to the environment, but this health/safety/environment thing has gotten all mixed together in many people's minds, hence the angry reactions. (Some of them are rather over the top - I've seen a couple of people call for a boycott of all Swiss made products, which is absurd to say the least.)

What to do if you have a SIGG bottle and are concerned

If you own SIGG bottles, check out their FAQ page to see if you have an older or newer (BPA-free) bottle. There is a exchange program in effect, at least for North America. And one of the sites linked to above states that major retailers are also offering in-store exchanges. It can't hurt to find out if your local retailers are doing this.

(Sidenote: This is obviously a pretty major PR disaster for SIGG. It made me laugh in that 'ha ha ha' sarcastic way because from my long years of living in Switzerland, I've observed that Swiss companies occasionally (often?) seem to have a problem with PR, at least in the way that Americans understand it. It remains to be seen how or when SIGG can recover from this. To put a positive spin on it, they went about tackling the issue in a very overly cautious way, which is a very Swiss kind of thing to do, but in this day and age this may not quite work well. See also: how another big Swiss company tried to buy back the affections of disenchanted customers. I am predicting something along the lines of coupons or something at least from SIGG, but we shall see.)

The water bottle conundrum

I do own a couple of SIGG water bottles (both fairly recent purchases, so BPA-free according to the SIGG website), but I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of them (though I am a fan of the SIGG aluminum lunch boxes). This has nothing to do with whatever they are coated on on the inside, but the fact that the bottle is not really insulated on its own. You need to buy the bottle and a protective insulated sleeve to keep the bottle cool, otherwise the bottle 'sweats' in a unpleasant way. Plus, the price of the bottle plus the sleeve adds up to a lot.

On the other hand, I do like to have water on hand but the rapidity at which those disposable ones can pile up is quite alarming. And even bottled water may not be that safe. At home I try to keep cooled tap water in the refrigerator (though I use a plastic jar to store it in). But what to do on the road? Stick to sometimes lukewarm tap water? Carry around a metal canteen (but how do you keep that cool, and what about metal leeching or rust?) I admit that at the moment I just buy a cooled drink most of the time. (Modern life is hard, isn't it, when you have to feel guilty even about how you consume a simple beverage...)

What do you drink with your bento lunch - and what do you carry it in?

See also