TYPICALLY AN ENVIRONMENTALLY MINDED GROUP, we climbershave long been ahead of the curve when it comes to reducing plasticand other waste — and have made a huge step by drinking from mostlyreusable polycarbonate water bottles (i.e., the iconic Nalgene sippers).And though said bottles are good for the environment, reducing wasteand encouraging us to use clean, cheap tap water (visit tappening.com),it seems they might not be so great for our health.
On April 9, the TODAY show aired an unsettling (and, say those inthe plastics industry, overblown) special report, bringing in doctorsand toxicologists to discuss the dangers of bisphenol A (BPA), a chemicalused “primarily in the production of polycarbonate plastics andepoxy resins . . . “ according to the National Toxicology Program (NTP;part of the Department of Health and Human Services). And on April14, the NTP released a draft brief analyzing and discussing the possibledangers of the chemical. (To download the report, visit cerhr.niehs.nih.gov/chemicals/bisphenol/BPADraftBriefVF_04_14_08.pdf.)
According to the NTP report, BPA not only “can migrate into foodfrom food and beverage containers” — especially when the food/liquidis hot — but it’s also been shown to adversely affect the developmentaland reproductive health of lab animals and, possibly, us. And while theNTP report, in a “weight of evidence” analysis of scores of studies,went on to fi nd “insuffi cient evidence for a conclusion” regarding BPA’seffects on human health, major manufacturers in the outdoor industry,including Nalgene and Camelbak, have already stopped using BPA (andCanada, in April, moved to ban its use in baby bottles).
AnalysisAlthough conclusive evidence is at present lacking re. the long-termhealth effects of plastics with BPA, recent events should provide reasonenough to question the safety of your trusty, sticker-encrusted waterbottle. Still, the best way of looking at it might be, why take chanceswhen there are so many BPA-free alternatives out there?Before you go chucking your bottles, take a moment to ID theirplastic type — if the recycling code on the bottom shows a 7 in the littlearrow triangle, you almost certainly have a polycarbonate bottle. (Recyclingcodes range from 1 to 7; for info, visit healthobservatory.org, oramericanchemistry.com for alternative views on BPA.) Weed out theseold No. 7s or repurpose accordingly (see sidebar at right). Now it’s timeto select a new water container. Here are some options:
• Camelbak (camelbak.com) — Camelbak responded quickly to concernssurrounding BPA, stating on their website that their extensiveline of plastic, reusable bottles is now BPA free.
• Klean Kanteen (kleankanteen.com) — Klean Kanteen offers a full lineof stainless-steel bottles, de facto BPA free.
• Nalgene (nalgene-outdoor.com) — Nalgene is phasing out BPA andoffers many alternatives, including an upcoming stainless-steel series.
• Polar Bottle (polarbottle.com) — Polar Bottle’s bicycle-style plasticbottles are not only BPA free, they’re also recyclable and double walled.
• Sigg (sigg.com) — Sigg offers a line of BPA-free, stainless-steel bottles,including a double-walled thermal version.
• Thermos (thermos.com) — This reputable maker of thermal containersalso makes stainless-steel, BPA-free beverage bottles.
• Ultimate Direction (ultimatedirection.com) — Ultimate Direction’svarious water containers are made with BPA-free plastic.
YOUR OLD POLYCARBONATE BOTTLES AREN’T RECYCLABLE,but that doesn’t mean you should trash ‘em. Instead, convert theminto something useful. A few ideas:
• Spill-proof chalk tote
• Planter, containing an eco-friendly sunfl ower
• Cold-weather-camping pee bottle
• Coin jar (future road-trip fundage)
• Solar-powered lantern (with the help of products like the SolLightLightcap; sollight.com)
Access Bulletins• Losing Lost Horse: In May, it was announced that the Lost Horse Canyoncrag in Montana is to be the site of a gravel quarry. The Bitterroot ClimbersCoalition is urging action — visit bitterrootclimbers.org for more.
• Rumney Burning: A May 28 fi re atop the crags at Rumney, New Hampshire,resulted in a climbing (and general-access) closure at the state’s hottest sport area — visit fs.fed.us/r9/forests/white_mountain and neclimbs.com.