The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

According to Amanda: Talking to Friends About Ecology Won't Leave Them Green with Envy

3 min read

Happy Earth Day!  In honor of one of my favorite holidays (one of my majors is environmental science), I thought I’d write a little something about my evolution as an ecologically aware individual.

Or, as an ex-boyfriend once called me, the Environmental Grim Reaper.

It sounds harsh, but it’s kind of true.  I like to share what I learn and more often than not, what I learn is depressing.

I’ve made frantic calls to my parents urging them to recycle the plastic cover on their dry cleaning, pointed out that “new car” smell means we’re just sucking back a bunch of volatile organic compounds, and once even convinced my family to watch “A Crude Awakening,” on Christmas morning.

It has gotten to the point where when I call someone on the phone, they can sense that I’m about to ruin one of life’s simple joys. They frankly say, “I’d rather not know.”

Which is how I ended up navigating my journey to a Sigg water bottle.

It all started with my freshman roommate who incessantly drank water.

She claimed that in addition to making her skin luminous, she never felt healthier.  At first I wasn’t sold, but the thing about being around someone who drinks a lot of water is that you tend to become thirstier.

After quickly burning through the two cases of bottled water my mom made me bring with me, I realized that my habit was costly. Not only would one case of water per week drain my wallet and my biceps (lugging a case across Route 1 is more difficult than I suspected), but all those PET water bottles weren’t exactly eco-friendly.

I dug through my closet and found a plastic water bottle.  It was a Nalgene knock-off I had purchased on a whim and forgotten about.
For weeks I felt especially virtuous.  My bright blue bottle followed me around everywher,e and I regarded it as a sort of badge of honor.  I was health conscious and eco-friendly.

Then I started reading about BPA, a chemical that is thought to be an endocrine disruptor.  Apparently, BPA is a common chemical in plastic and it leaches into water contained inside the plastic—like water in a water bottle.

Of course, my trusty bottle happened to be the worst offender: #7.  I immediately disposed of my bottle and searched for an alternative.  After some research, I decided on Sigg, a Swiss brand that makes stainless steel bottles decorated in lead-free paint.

When my Sigg finally arrived, I couldn’t help but feel excited.  It was cool, recyclable, and completely safe – until I didn’t clean it for a few weeks.

Siggs have extremely small bottle openings that make it difficult to use a regular sponge.  I didn’t purchase the Sigg brand bottle brush on principle because it was unreasonably pricey. Instead, I decided that swishing around some dish soap would do the trick.

It didn’t.  After a month my Sigg not only smelled like an aquarium, but looked like one, too.  After trying to remove the algae from the bottom of my bottle, I decided it was time to retire it and get a new one.

The moral of my story?  Being eco-friendly is not as easy as I thought it would be.  In fact, it’s downright stressful.  But hey, at least I’m never at a loss for conversation starters. Even if they are, well, grim.