Monday, June 8, 2009

9 June 2009: Awaken to Your Truth

I recently wrote an article for Hong Kong's Namaskar magazine about bringing more global consciousness into our daily habits, in an effort to embody our vision of a cleaner, healthier world, both within ourselves and expanding to our greater, tangible planet. In the article, I suggested replacing disposable plastic bottles with a more sustainable option, such as SIGG bottles. In response, a good friend and fellow yogi // truth seeker suggested that actually, SIGG may not be the best recommendation if a clean inner world is what we’re looking to create and maintain. She directed me to Real Green Girl’s blog, and since then, I have somewhat unsuccessfully been trying to unearth the mystery surrounding a debate that apparently has been ongoing for several years, completely unbeknownst to me – and I’m guessing, unbeknownst to most of us. (Unbeknownst is such a good word, I just had to find a way to use it twice!) (Thrice!)

I am not a professional researcher of facts (is that an actual job, I wonder?), a scientist or chemist; I am also not affiliated to any company that manufactures any sort of bottle, sustainable or not, toxic or not. I am simply a yogi, and to me, that means I seek the truth…I do my best to choose the middle, enlightened way closest to nature…I strive for balance…I try to keep my heart and my mind open.

I think it’s important that I share the above with you, so you know what inspired my amateur quest into all of this, and also so you can understand the nature of my so-called research and resulting suggestion to you. So, here it is…

Real Green Girl is adamant that SIGG is not trustworthy. A further read into her two blog entries dated 21 July 2008 and 6 October 2008 (which include external links and comments) will help you understand where she’s coming from, and perhaps even inspire you to do your own research, which is what I have been doing.

SIGG has never been transparent about what the inner lining of their aluminum bottles are made of. Aluminum, of course, has long known to be toxic, so in order for SIGG to make aluminum bottles, they need to line the interior with something non-toxic (or so one would hope). In January 2008, the President of SIGG, Steve Wasik, publicized a letter explaining that the formula of the lining was a secret because their 3rd-party supplier/producer of the formula had SIGG under contract to keep it confidential, to prevent copycat production. I managed to find a morsel of illuminating information through a company that sells SIGG products (and that assured me via email that SIGG was absolutely safe). This company notes on their website: “The special SIGG lining is not plastic - it is a micro-thin epoxy.“ Oh. Okay…but, what’s an epoxy?

Let’s hold that thought for a moment.

So, SIGG is adamant about having to maintain confidentiality regarding their formula, and perhaps on one hand, we can all understand that; it’s why patents and trademarks exist. What seems suspect is that after they made such a big deal about not disclosing their formula, in January 2009, they went and changed it! Devil’s Advocate would postulate that they changed it in response to the conscious public’s problem with their secrecy, and the ensuing suspicion that epoxy might be a fancy way of saying plastic. Plastic, of course, is currently under fire for being toxic, which is the reason a company like SIGG, offering (supposedly) non-plastic, reusable bottles has risen. According to the President’s update letter, their new and (supposedly) improved liner is called the SIGG EcoCare Liner, and he cites “innovation”, “technological advance”, and “sustainability” as reasons for the change. This new liner is “a bake-on, polymer powder coating.” Oh. Okay…but what, now, is a polymer?

Wiki says that epoxy IS a polymer, so even without understanding the chemical composition of these substances, I wonder if the liner perhaps hasn’t essentially changed? Could it all be clever marketing to confuse the average consumer who doesn’t understand this vocabulary? Wiki’s epoxy entry states: “Most common epoxy resins are produced from a reaction between epichlorohydrin and bisphenol-A” (aka “BPA”, aka the major culprit of toxicity in plastic!). According to Real Green Girl’s research, this synthesis results in an amber-colored solid. Furthermore, Wiki lists the common uses of epoxy and polymers, and these uses include paint, adhesives, and plumbing sealants.

(Ew.)

My friend and I inspected the inside of our SIGG bottles (I have four in my home!), and found that my older bottles have an amber-colored lining (possibly the result of the aforementioned synthesis of epichlorohydrin and BPA?) whereas her newer bottle has a silver-colored lining. It could be that hers has the new EcoCare Liner, which possibly is a true improvement, but I personally still don’t feel good about “bake-on polymer powder coating.” It’s like that Breyer’s ice cream commercial, where the ingredients are all words you can pronounce, such as “vanilla” and “milk”, as opposed to the ingredients of less natural brands of ice cream that list chemical names or codes of artificial flavorings and additives.

Sure, SIGG bottles may have undergone “independent” “testing” to ensure no “detectable” leaching, and an “independent” “PhD” may have offered his endorsement of these tests, but I can’t help but be reminded of those cheesy infomercials I used to watch when I was younger, totally convinced that a vibrating exercise belt was going to give me a six-pack if I just wore it around my belly for a few minutes a day. That “independent” “doctor” promised it would work...

So, now what?

I would love it if SIGG were more forthright and clear in their communications, and I wish I could believe their claims of safety and sustainability. But as I run all of this through my own personal filter of what feels right or wrong, I am leaning towards the latter. And I’m totally bummed, not only because I own several SIGG bottles, but also because I have been urging my loved ones to get their own. It seems SIGG has been exploiting my world of yogis and other health-conscious people, whilst they themselves may not be so conscious.

Still, I am aware that I may not really know what I’m talking about. So I offer my personal thoughts to you, and ask you to now move forward with what resonates with you. Perhaps we look in places other than Whole Foods and take Real Green Girl’s suggestion to go with Klean Kanteen’s food-grade, stainless steel bottles (or check out the 100% stainless steel options from Laken or even SIGG). Perhaps we all migrate to the mountains where we can drink fresh water from the source (but then, what about bugs and animal feces, right?!). Perhaps the only choice we can make in this situation is choosing the lesser evil.

Whatever you make of all this and ultimately decide, I urge you to run it through your own personal filter. There is so much divine and worldly intelligence within you. Awaken to that. And then think, speak, and act from that awakened place.

PS If you'd like to read my original article, please send me an email! Or download the PDF here.

4 comments:

random said...

well said! hopefully if we all contemplate such things, and at the minimum choose the lesser of evils like u said.. then at least we're moving in the right direction... or so we hope.

just on the issue of water bottles, ppl in china tend to use those clear glass (?) jars from instant coffee/ovaltine/horlicks etc. its heavy but they seem to work... and they do last a long time...

Leah said...

UPDATE!!
10 Sept 2009

http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2009/09/10/patagonia-severs-sigg-relationship-claiming-chagrin/

Javed said...

As our sensitivity deepens and widens, we begin to practice asanas in such a way that we are practicing the larger yoga: the discovery of our Self and our dharma (our true purpose) and the overcoming of the obstacles that impede this journey.
Yoga Teacher Training San Francisco

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