Sigg: How Safe is Your Water Bottle?

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Staying hydrated has never been easy. Americans have learned to stay away from bottled water; it's expensive, bad for the environment--plus it may be less safe than tap. And we've learned to be choosy about the refillable bottles that replace the disposable plastic ones, avoiding bottles containing BPA--a chemical linked with heart disease and diabetes in humans.

Picking the right way to drink water just got even more complicated: Sigg, a Swiss company that produces aluminum water bottles, revealed last week that some of its products created before August 2008 contain BPA--and that it has known for years and not told the public.

Sigg CEO Steve Wasik defended the company's behavior on Huffington Post, blaming his inexperience with "green" issues:

Unfortunately, I am still learning to be a green CEO. When I took this position, I naively assumed that "green" meant being a steward of the environment...However, being a green company also means being held to the highest degree of corporate transparency.

The company is offering an exchange program where customers can send in their bottles for BPA-free ones.

But the green community isn't buying it: Outdoor outfitter Patagonia terminated its contract with Sigg. And bloggers brushed off Wasik's apology with declarations like, "I'll be applying the cost of postage to the purchase of a BPA-free product from one of Sigg's competitors. Good-bye Sigg," and, "If you are going to bill yourself as an eco-friendly company, be eco-friendly. And that includes being straightforward. Otherwise you'll lose customers. You've lost this one."

What now? Time to start drinking water out of a glass--or straight from the tap?

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Eleanor Barkhorn is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

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