Is There Really A Toxic Garbage Island?

Apparently some people have been talking about a patch of rubbish/garbage the size of the US state of Texas floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, ingeniously dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Basically, the theory is any rubbish/trash that gets dumped in the water rides the currents to this one spot and joins an ever-increasing flotilla. However, no one seemed to have a picture of the buildup, so Thomas Morton went out to sea to investigate. Below is part one of the 12 short part series, if you can’t see it you can click here.


Quick Water Saving Tips

Saving water at any time of the year is a good idea, but obviously in the summer and after there is usually a shortage. Some quick tips for saving water:

Water Drop

– Repair leaks. Leaking taps, sprinklers and hoses can add to your bill and use a surprising amount of water, around 20 gallons (76 liters) per day per leak.

– Water the garden before 6am or after 8pm. It takes about 20 – 25 gallons (76 – 95 liters) less water at these times of day, clearly depending on how large your garden is.

– Shorten showers. You’re clean enough already, 2.5 gallons (9.5 liters) per minute can be saved.

– Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. A surprising 2 gallons (7.5 liters) is wasted per minute this way.

– Use a car wash. Washing the car yourself uses a lot more water, plus car washes usually recycle the water. If you do wash it yourself, don’t leave the hose running – self-closing nozzles are cheap and handy.

Give Your Plastic Bottle A New Life

We Want Tap is a nice new idea. Essentially it’s just a DIY labeling kit for your water bottle.

we want tap

Whilst we encourage the use of reusable bottles – plastic, steel or aluminum – there are times when they’re not practical due to size, or if you’ve forgotten to take one with with you. So when you’ve got a plastic bottle, We Want Tap packs each contain five large and five small labels to stick over the current label on the bottle. On the label is their patented Drink-O-Meter, you can keep track of your re-fills. Mark off each time you fill up and when you reach ten, recycle the bottle. The pack also contains 20 bonus fun size stickers, and is only £6 in the UK.

They will soon also sell reusable plastic bottles, including a nice small one, but no news on what type of plastic they’re made of. Take a look at We Want Tap, or our Eco Product Reviews of other reusable water bottles.

Ecover Partners With WaterAid – Plus Free Water Care Pack!

Ecover, the eco cleaning products people (see our Eco Product Reviews page), are working in partnership with WaterAid to enable communities in Ethiopia to access clean water. They will be working with them for at least the next three years on a variety of water related projects.

Ecover and Water Aid logos

They have an interesting website about a recent trip to Ethiopia, facts about how the company respects water and details of how you can get involved. They also have some neat water facts, including about what happens to water when it goes down the drain and also water use in their factories. A little promotional for Ecover but interesting nevertheless.

If you live in the UK (seemingly the place for free “go green” kits these days) you can get a free watercare pack while stocks last, including a Hippo water saver for your toilet, information booklet and some fun stickers and posters.

CamelBak Water Bottle Eco Product Review

CamelBak are the originator and apparently the world leader in hands-free hydration, allowing mountain bikers to drink without taking their hands off the handlebars. Always useful I imagine!

Camelbak BPA Free reusable bottle

They have just released their new 750ml bottles that are made of a material called Tritan (a copolyester polymer), that is 100% BPA and phthalate free, so there is no-leach or residual taste. BPA is Bisphenol-A, an ingredient used in making polycarbonate and is potentially toxic to human health. For more information, Wikipedia can help you. Anyway, we’re very glad this reusable bottle is BPA free.

They’re available in 0.5 litre, 0.75l and 1.0l versions and I tried a lovely tangerine color one. They’re also available in the green shown here, grey, pink and blue, however more important is how they taste.

Which is fine, I couldn’t taste any plastic. When I first got the bottom it smelt of plastic but that’s because it was wrapped in bubble wrap and has a protective plastic wrapper. However once washed there was no after taste, and all was good. As with these type of bottles there are various optional extras, like sleeves, and different caps.

The bottle is available from a number of retailers just go to CamelBak and search for one near you.

Nalgene Plastic Water Bottles Eco Product Review

Nalgene sent me a lot of their bottles to test, seven in total. Reusable bottles are a great alternative (we’ve previously looked at SIGG) and these plastic bottles represent many different styles and uses so it was great to test them.

From left to right in the image below we received two 32oz wide mouth HDPE Retro bottles; Oasis Loop Red Top; Loop Top – Sunny Yellow; pink ATB Bottle; OTG bottle; and a Loop top.

Nalgene Water Bottles

As you can see the bottles vary quite a lot. All are extremely durable, resistant to staining, resistant to retaining odors, dishwasher safe (top rack only) and guaranteed leak proof. The wide mouth bottles didn’t really appeal to me, though are much easier for getting ice into them, and can be hand washed easily. The other narrower bottles really have to go in the dishwasher to get properly clean. Our favorite is the OTG bottle that does not leach any taste, is a handy size and very sturdy. It probably looks the best out of them all, and can be opened with one hand.

It’s a tough choice to choose a reusable water bottle these days. Which ones leach, which ones don’t, is plastic reusable OK, or are aluminum or steel bottles better? What is the cost of manufacture compared to “disposable” plastic bottles? I think it comes down to a personal choice, and depends what you use them for – the plastic ones are lighter and more ideal for sports (such as fitting in bicycle cages or graduations for measuring energy supplements), whilst I think for walking/hiking the metal ones are perhaps sturdier. For day-to-day work and the like then pretty much pick whatever you’re comfortable with. Nalgene certainly have a massive range of styles, shapes and colors from which to choose and see what you like.

The bottles range from $6 and more and are available in many, many different styles and colors from Nalgene.

SIGG Aluminum Water Bottle Product Review

The reduction in the use of plastic bottles in our lives is an aim I think most of us share. It’s all too easy to pick up a new plastic bottle of water rather than carrying your own, over 100m in the US alone are ending up in landfills every day. There are a few schools of thought, using aluminum bottles, steel bottles or corn based biodegradable plastic bottles (with or without a water filter). This review looks at one of those choices, a SIGG aluminum water bottle.

SIGG Aluminum reusable bottle

It’s an aluminum bottle. That’s pretty much it, it carries about 1 litre of liquid and does a fine job of it. At about 22.5cm (9 inches) in height, not including the cap (more about them in a minute) it’s a decent size to use on a walk, picnic, or gym, and just about fits in an average car cup holder. The bottles are fully recyclable at the end of their, probably long, life.

Who are SIGG? SIGG Switzerland dates back to 1908 when metal processing specialist Ferdinand Sigg established an aluminum product factory about 30 kilometers outside of Zurich. Still manufactured in Switzerland, they’ve been called the world’s toughest water bottles. Available in 144 designs with 22 bottle lids, some of the bottles are also displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in New York. SIGG is also a member of 1% For The Planet – donating 1% of all sales to helping to preserve our environment.

What about leaching? Steel bottles do not usually leach, that is they don’t make the liquid inside taste of metal. Aluminum bottles do, so therefore need a lining, with SIGG’s being a water-based, non-toxic coating that is baked into the interior walls and remains flexible and crack resistant for the life of the bottle. The lining is taste neutral and resistant to fruit acids and energy drinks, and though it is FDA approved it would be nice to know generally what it’s made out of.

How as the bottle? I’ve had the bottle for a couple of weeks and found no problems with it at all. I like the fact it’s tough and I can throw it if I need to without worry. While using a dishwasher is not recommended as due to the small opening it wouldn’t get clean effectively, it seemed fine to me. The paint might eventually wear off though. There are a variety of caps that can be used, the default screw cap isn’t especially friendly, unless you need to attach the bottle to something, the sports caps are much more convenient for day-to-day use. After refrigerating the bottle can be too cold to hold (being metal and all), though they do sell sleeves and rubber handle grips to help.

An extremely quick video is embedded below, frankly after the written review I wasn’t sure what benefits and features I could show you, so I’ll be honest and say it’s not fascinating, but is short!

Starting at $16.99 to $24.99, SIGG bottles are available from from Amazon and through SIGG themselves. For more eco product reviews, please take a look at our Eco Reviews page.