a peek inside the fishbowl

11 Dec, 2007

How to spend $90.03 on three water bottles

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Oh! Things!|Yaktivism

So, MEC is finally pulling their Nalgene bottles off their shelves.

I say finally, because this issue is one I’ve been wondering about. MEC is one of the most environmentally-friendly companies around. The Westboro store, for example, was built in a super eco-fashion. It was built on the foundation of a former grocery store (the Hong Kong Market), the building has straw bale and shredded newspaper stuffed in the walls, walls made of salvaged timber, there’s a cistern to catch rainwater … and that’s just the scratching the surface. The building is a model for corporate architecture everywhere, so why were they still selling Nalgene bottles? It just didnt make sense.

So when the stories about bad bits of plastic (specifically, bisphenol-A, which is derived from petrochemicals and is said to mimic estrogen ) leaching into the water started coming out I seriously questioned how MEC, of all outfits, could continue stocking their shelves with them.

I was in the store a couple weeks ago and there were hundreds of these bottles lining the shelves. I guess they’re gone now. Yay! A retailer this size takes this kind of action, it’s got to have a domino effect.
We’d been using Nalgene bottles for quite some time. We were using them regularly while we camped, and practically every day during the summer. Instead of buying single-use bottles we just filled our Nalgene at the tap. I have decent tap water, so why buy cases of water at the store (Seriously, I see people at the checkout buying cases of water and I despair for our poor planet.)

So I bought our family some non-plastic water bottles. I bought the first one at MEC. It was $9.00. It was okay, but wasn’t working for me at the gym. Because of the wide neck I was always splashing water on myself, and my hands were always too shaky to screw the top back on right.

I was doing some shopping-released research for an article I was working on and I was led to Fab Baby Gear on Wellington (near Three Tarts). They carry a Sigg line of seamless leakproof (and lined) aluminum bottles. I bought three, one for me, two for the girls who, coincidently, were having tummy troubles related to the fact they weren`t drinking enough water. I figured this was money well-spent. Not only was it Bis-A free, but hopefully their fun designs would make it cool to drink water again.

My bottle is larger, the design is called Fantasy – and I love it.

I bought Emma the pink bottle with little cat, and Sarah got the blue one with the little dog pictured here
All is well, right? Well, how should a parent react when a child says they’ve lost their $30 water bottle?

My reaction, a winning combo of disappointment, tinged with anger with a bonus guilt trip.

“I guess we shouldn’t have spent that much money on a water bottle for you.”

The words were already out of my mouth before I realized what I was saying. Ugh. I swore I would never do this to my kids. I’ve experienced my share of the guilt trip, and it wasn’t appreciated then, nor is it appreciated now that I’m older.

But I’m torn.

1) They should know how to take care of their things, right?
2) It was misplaced by accident. That can happen to any of us, right?

What I should have said: “That water bottle was really expensive. And I’m sad that it got lost, as I’m sure you are. If you want another one like it you’re going to have to chip in for half. Otherwise you’ll have to just get your water from the drinking fountain like before.”

In the end, the water bottle was discovered at the bottom of a bag containing library books.

16 Responses to "How to spend $90.03 on three water bottles"

1 | J.

December 11th, 2007 at 11:55 am


Those water bottles are very nice. I’ve had my Nalegene bottle for over a year now.. I think I’ll be time for an upgrade soon. :)

2 | megan

December 11th, 2007 at 1:14 pm


Are you sure that a little guilt isn’t necessary from time to time? After a week of one or the other of my girls coming home from school missing a mitten EVERY DAY we kind of had enough and laid on how mommy and daddy cannot afford to be buying new mittens every week. Hopefully we have a better week with the stuff making it back home. $30 is sort of a lot for a water bottle but I always find the more invested I am in something the more likely I am to keep track of it.

3 | andrea

December 11th, 2007 at 1:30 pm


For sure, $30 is definitely a lot for a water bottle, but I decided to fork out the cash because of the (a) Bis-A issue and (b) I really wanted the girls to drink more water. It’s already helped Emma’s tummy troubles.

But is guilt necessary? Good question.

It’s up to us parents to do what we can to decrease the odds our kids are going to lose stuff (i.e make sure everything is labelled, clip mitts to sleeves etc.) And I think there are ways we can parent without laying down the guilt card. Don’t you think?

If people (kids and adults alike) have a conscience they will feel guilt on their own. To make declarations that are designed to bring about a sense of guilt seems manipulative to me.

4 | Lee

December 11th, 2007 at 2:19 pm


I also think that it depends on the track record of the kid. If multiple things had been lost over a short time frame, I’d be a lot more likely to want to drive home a point than if it was the first thing in five years to be misplaced.

As an aside, we’ve made up some sticky labels with our cell-phone number on it and labeled anything we’d hate to go missing with them.

Disclosure: I’m a Mabel’s Labels agent

5 | porter

December 11th, 2007 at 2:36 pm


I can’t even comment on what I think today…I’m weepy and tired from my little girls waking up through the night….waaaaay too much hype to do with the holidays I think and they are overly tired.
Anyway, all I can think at this point is that everyone is human. You reacting in a less than perfect way is human too isn’t it? If you didn’t like how you reacted then a) you learned something because you REALIZE that you didn’t like your reaction, and b) be honest and tell Emma that you thought about your reaction and feel disappointed in yourself.
I think as parents of our generation we try so hard to do things better than our parents, and in doing so we manage to beat ourselves up alot…we experience guilt twice…when we were kids and now because we aren’t sure we always do the right thing.

6 | tali

December 11th, 2007 at 3:15 pm


umm, FYI, the kleen kanteen’s at the extraordinary baby shoppe (or at arbour in the glebe) are stainless steel and cheaper (and unlined with anything). I think they’re 18-20$ or so…

7 | Amy

December 11th, 2007 at 3:59 pm


I’m so relieved I’m not the only one who did this. I bought four Sigg bottles from Reuasable Bags and it was over $80. And some of them were on SALE! My husband would have FREAKED if he had seen that bill, which he most definitely did not :)
They’re great and guilt free, but not anxiety free, as I’m now always hypering about where the bottles are and are they all accounted for. Jeez!
I’m sure I’ll have the same reaction as you when my little girl inevitably misplaces one of her bottles. I think you handled it just fine.

8 | Melissa

December 12th, 2007 at 1:14 am


How are they on leaking? We need to replace the kids leaky cheap cantenes…


9 | andrea

December 12th, 2007 at 9:14 am


They won’t leak if the lids are on tight.
BTW, from what I understand, the Sigg bottles hold both hot and cold liquids (incl. acidic ones like apple juice and carbonated ones if you’re so inclined, although it can’t be put in the freezer) but the Kleen Kanteen ones only hold cold stuff.

10 | Anna

December 12th, 2007 at 9:52 am


I’ve been using Siggs my entire life, over 30 years for camp stove fuel and no problems with leaking.

The past couple of years we’ve been using the new (pretty) bottles for drinks and they are fine. Even my then 3-year old could open and close the bottles without trouble.

11 | Chloe

December 12th, 2007 at 12:06 pm


Sigg bottles all contain a coating on the inside of their bottles. They say it is safe but who knows? I am going with stainless.

12 | Carole

December 12th, 2007 at 10:44 pm


Have you ever tasted water from your child’s plastic sippy cup? I was parched the other day and took a swig of out of my daughter’s Platex big-kid style cup. IT WAS HORRIBLE! That’s when I decided to spend for the Sigg I have had my eye on for a long time but just didn’t want to shell out for and hand wash. (Pathetic excuse, I know.) So I bought her the little pink Sigg for her Christmas stocking last week for about $17 at my local green store. They also sell Sigg at Whole Foods. I’m hoping to inspire more enthusiasm for water consumption, something I’ve been working on for years to no avail. Maybe because the water I’ve been giving her in those darn plastic sippies tastes like toxic sludge!? No wonder I hear “But I don’t like water, Mommy” so often!

Some of your readers with small children might be interested to know about this great new product I just discovered by chance yesterday. It’s called the Safe Sippy, and it’s basically a hospital-grade stainless steel sippy cup surrounded by plastics free of BPA (Bis-A, as you put it), DEHA, and phthalates. I got my daughter one for $13.99, so it’s a little bit cheaper than the Sigg. I figure a second variety will help to ensure that something is clean and on the ready.


Now if only I could figure out a way to keep water cold in a metal container!

13 | michael

January 14th, 2008 at 9:56 pm


i checked the SafeSippy website and it days that the only retailer in ottawa that carries them is Kiddytown over by the Science & Tech Museum (2265 Gladwin Cir., 613-733-7443).

is that where you found yours?

i may have to check it out!

14 | Carol Edwards

July 20th, 2008 at 8:22 pm


If you’re looking for SIGG bottles in Ottawa – check us out at keriba.com – we’ve lots of sizes and styles IN STOCK. We carry SIGG bottle accessories as well as SIGG’s thermal and stainless steel product lines.

15 | Linda Aldridge

September 11th, 2008 at 2:56 am


Keriba also now carries The Safe Sippy (just got them in) although it is not yet on our website – they come with easy-grip handles and covers in blue, green and pink (retails for $19.00). We can sometimes deliver, depending on where you are during the day and schedules etc.

For keeping cold drinks cold in a metal container, use an insulated pouch/sleeve – they help a lot.

16 | Christina

August 29th, 2009 at 4:37 pm


Hi Andrea,
I just read this in the Citizen today and thought I’d pass it along to you in case you hadn’t seen it.



Sigg reports that they’ve tested these products and saw 0% leaching of BPA, but I figure it never hurts to stay informed.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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