By Michael Smith (Veshengro)
BPA-free is a very stretchable term and it is not only BPA that is a problem.
Refillable drinking bottles for when you are on the move are the environmentally-friendly alternative to the one-way bottles of water and other drinks found on the shelves of the supermarkets and other stores. Using your own bottle and refilling it with tap water is also much better for your wallet.
Often it is claimed that all plastic bottles, also refillable ones, are bad and bad for your health, but there is plastic that contains BPA and other harmful materials that can leach out and then there are others that do not. Not all plastics are alike, for starters. Also Triton, claimed to be BPA-free, has substances that leach and could, potentially, be harmful.
While plastic is, to some degree, harmful to the environment there are, as said, plastics and then there are other plastics. And the same goes for health concerns. Bisphenol A (BPA) is regarded as a hormone disruptor or even as a substance that acts like a hormone in the human body and thus should be avoided, though it is found, amongst other places, in PET bottles, the common garden variety of water, soda and other drinks bottles, as well as in many other plastic products. Some plastic bottles are, however, safe to use, and I have been told that those made of PP, LDPE und HDPE, do not contain BPA or other harmful chemicals.
The best choice as regards for material for a reusable refillable water bottle obviously is good old-fashioned glass but glass is heavy and glass is breakable. While there are bottles made of glass available that are made of one or the other kind of toughened glass they are heavier still and also expensive.
Then there are those made of stainless steel which are much lighter than glass and are, due to the fact they are made of metal, unbreakable. They just dent. I do not recommend using aluminium bottles as they are lined with a synthetic liner which, generally, contains BPA and we want to avoid that stuff, don't we.
And then, at the end, so to speak, of the spectrum, because plastics are still oil-based, there are those made from the “safe” kinds of plastic. We could include Triton though with a caveat in that a number of sources claim that Triton as well leaches harmful chemicals.
Here I will highlight two bottles and makers specifically because both ar great designs and use safe plastic. One is Ohyo, the collapsible water bottle, once kn own as Aquatina, and the other is Dopper.
Years ago Robinsons, the maker of juice drinks in the UK, sold a premixed-squash in a reusable Army-style plastic canteen with a cartoon character called “Thirst Ranger” embossed on the bottle; it was sometime around the mid-1980s. That bottle was made of one of those “safe” plastics and I still have mine today. I did change the seal in the bottle cap, however, as the original was a cork-based one that deteriorated.
As far as plastic reusable water bottles go, however, my recommendation would the De Dopper bottle, and that because of the fact that it “breaks down” into three parts, allowing for very easy and thorough cleaning.
If you want a bottle that can squish down to a small package when not in use then the Ohyo is a brilliant choice and, as far as I am aware, is the only one of its kind that does that.
At home, however, or at the office, at your desk, if you want to have water in a bottle then I would always advise the use of glass, and here you can even save a great deal by simply repurposing, say, a Snapple lemonade bottle, or similar, for this job. On the other hand, if you can give that kind of bottle some protection then it can also be carried in a backpack.