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Save the Planet: Nalgene water bottles can help reduce plastic trash and pollution

plastic pollution
600 321 Survival Common Sense Blog | Emergency Preparedness

It seems Nalgene® water bottles have been around forever.

But actually, it’s only been 70 years. Here is why they have lasted so long, and why I have so many.

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by Leon Pantenburg

Disclaimer: I don’t work for Nalgene, and didn’t receive any free products. I was not paid to write this post, and everything in it is my opinion.

I only use gear that works, and my family is also heavy into using less plastic. (My daughter carries her own stainless steel straw, bamboo eating utensils and carries her lunch in a stainless steel, reusable container.)

Here is how using a Nalgene® bottle (actually, any refillable bottle) can help save the planet.

Fact: We must cut back on plastic that is used once and thrown away. Need convincing?

plastic pollution

Some plastics last for hundreds of years before breaking down. The environmental impact of such pollutants is devastating. (Science news for students photo)

Consider these facts from conservation.org:

  • Eight million metric tons: That’s how much plastic is dumped into the oceans annually. That’s about 17.6 billion pounds — or the equivalent of nearly 57,000 blue whales — every single year. By 2050, ocean plastic will outweigh all of the ocean’s fish.
  • There’s so much junk at sea, the debris has formed giant garbage patches. There are five of them around the world, and the largest — the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — includes an estimated 1.8 trillion pieces of trash and covers an area twice the size of Texas.
  • 2.5 million plastic bottles are trashed hourly in the USA
  • 40 percent of the ocean is covered in trash, with 90 percent of it plastic.

My family doesn’t buy bottled water, and our collection of water bottles proves we carry our own. The water container accumulation  ranges from Hydroflask®, CleanCanteen®, Thermos®, Camelbak® and Platypus®. I particularly like the water bottles with filters. I love scooping up water bubbling out of a spring, and being able to drink it – filtered and purified – through the bottle’s straw.

Nalgene, water bottles

These are just a few of the water bottles in my collection.

But my go-to water bottle is the original 32-ounce, wide-mouth Nalgene. For well over three decades I’ve carried Nalgenes everywhere, from scorching deserts to below-zero snow camps. They’ve had boiling water in them, and been frozen solid.

Nalgene bottles date back to the 1940s when chemist Emanuel Goldberg developed the first plastic pipette jars. He founded the Nalge Company, which Goldberg named using his wife’s initials: Natalie Levey Goldberg.

Here are the specs for the wide mouth, 32 ounce Nalgene. 

VOLUME 32 oz. Actual Volume to Brim 38 oz
HEIGHT 8.25 in
DIAMETER 3.5 in
CAP DIAMETER 63 mm

The good stuff:

Won’t  leak: The bottle has continuous, straight-shoulder, semi-buttress threads and it is guaranteed not to leak. Linerless caps ensure leakproof performance without a liner that can wrinkle, or cause leaks and contamination.

None of our Nalgenes have ever leaked, and we give them every opportunity. My Nalgene in the vehicle may roll around in the back or the trunk, but they just don’t leak.

This becomes a real consideration if your Nalgene is converted into a hot water bottle to warm the bottom of a sleeping bag on a cold night.

Easy to carry: Because they don’t leak, a Nalgene can be carried in daypacks,  duffle bags, suitcases etc.

Nalgene, modified for belt carry

I wrap my 32-oz with duct tape and some Guerrilla Tape. The paracord loop attaches to my belt clip for easy carrying. The area between the tapes could be wrapped with paracord.

On many of my Nalgenes, I will tape on a loop of paracord so the bottle can be attached to a belt clip. This is a standard piece of equipment for summer Bluegrass festivals! A Nalgene in your daypack while exploring a big city is a really good idea. Drinking water can be as scarce and hard to find in the city as in the desert!

The bottles can be wrapped with Duct tape, Guerrilla tape and possibly several feet of Paracord. This is a really handy place to carry those survival tools, and folks soon find where they can go to get a piece of tape or paracord.

My daughter has swiped a couple of my Nalgenes, just because of the tape, paracord and attached loop. I’m fine with that – dear old dad wants to make sure both his kids have the best equipment possible in their Bugout Bags and other outdoor gear.

Durable: I’ve used Nalgenes on a nine-day Boundary Waters canoe trip, on Mississippi River guide trips, hunting and fishing expeditions, and all sorts of outdoor and urban adventures. I have never had a Nalgene fail or leak.

Convenient: When my three kids were small, we packed a four-ounce Nalgene with juice or water in their lunch boxes. The little containers was just the right size, and fit handily in the box. We used the same Nalgenes for years, and the kids carried them through high school.

I also found that certain Nalgenes vials fit the interior of a hollow handle survival knife. This allows the small items to be easily removed from the handle

Easy to clean: Nalgenes are dishwasher safe. I don’t use this feature much, because most of my user Nalgenes are covered with duct tape and wrapped with paracord, and you don’t want that stuff heated up in a dishwasher. But you could clean an unadorned Nalgenes like that.

Wide mouth: A standard bottle brush fits easily through the mouth of the bottle, allowing easy cleaning. It’s easy to put ice cubes in, or mix powered electrolyte drinks.

Lightweight: A Nalgene doesn’t have the double-wall insulation, so there is considerable weight savings. You pay for hot or cold drinks with additional weight. Frankly, I don’t think the extra heft is worth it. If you are drinking to stay hydrated – and you should – then drink temperature doesn’t matter.

BPA free: It has a 7 in the triangle on the bottom as that denotes its recycling stream. You can look for the BPA-free or Tritan designation.

Know this:

Not insulated: A Nalgene will not keep your drinks hot or cold. Basically, the air temperature is what temperature your drink will be. If you are out is really cold weather, a hot drink in an insulated container can help ward off hypothermia. And, a cool drink can help someone cool down in hot temperatures. You decide. I have the full gamete of water container choices, just for those unique situations.

Do you need a Nalgene water bottle?

You need something to carry water in. You definitely don’t want a container that might leak. It needs to be tough and durable, and a piece of survival gear that can be depended upon.

You probably do need a Nalgene water bottle.

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2 comments
  • Leon

    Correct. But we have to raise awareness about the plastic problem, and one way to do that is by discouraging the use of one-use plastics

  • Gorges Smythe

    Literally 95% of all plastic in the oceans comes from three third world rivers; the remaining 5% is divided between the whole rest of the world. It’s fine to be ecologically responsible, BUT what we do in America will have a very limited affect on the oceans.

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