Hot Water: How SIGG Lost My Trust (And Kind of Broke My Heart)

I waited to write this post until after I had the opportunity to speak with SIGG CEO Steve Wasik. I am still disappointed.

Over this last week we have learned that SIGG bottles manufactured before August 2008 (not 2009, as I mistakenly mentioned earlier) contained Bisphenol-A (BPA) in their liners. BPA is a chemical used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins and is part of a group of molecules known as endocrine disruptors.

Endocrine disruptors are defined by the National Institute of Health as

naturally occurring compounds or man-made chemicals that may interfere with the production or activity of hormones of the endocrine system leading to adverse health effects. Many of these chemicals have been linked with developmental, reproductive, neural, immune, and other problems in wildlife and laboratory animals. Some scientists think these chemicals also are adversely affecting human health in similar ways resulting in declined fertility and increased incidences or progression of some diseases including endometriosis and cancers.

BPA is everywhere: in plastic bottles, in metal food cans, in food and toys. But where we did not think it existed was in our SIGGs. I have gone on the Oprah Winfrey Show, the Martha Stewart Show, the Ellen DeGeneres Show and told scores of magazines, newspapers, radio programs and lecture audiences to get reusable water bottles. My follow-up line has often been, “I use SIGGs” – accompanied by a gesture towards the bottle that was nearly always on my person, one that I had known and loved for years.

I got my first SIGG because of my concerns about BPA and, well, because they were prettier than the stainless steel options. When others started to ask about them, I gave the same spiel. I reasoned that if it was good enough for me, of course it was good enough for your kids, my students and the world. In fact, the very first time I appeared on Oprah, I laid down the line and said I could not promote the bottles in their giveaway because they were #7 polycarbonates known to leach Bisphenol-A. The producers ended up replacing them with another kind of plastic bottle because they already had a deal set up with the company. But when it came to the bottles I talked about on-air, I spoke about SIGGs.

Read more about SIGG water bottle and BPA at The Huffington Post.

Image credit: EthanPDX at Flickr under a Creative Commons license

  1. Bobby B.

    Three comments:

    (1) “I reasoned that if it was good enough for me, of course it was good enough for your kids, my students and the world.”

    Does not this statement define the entire environmental movement? Why do the self-proclaimed green gurus continue to expect “the world” to follow their lead when the movement’s track record remains questionable?

    (2) Why not just encourage people to buy glass lined or stainless steel lined insulated bottles? Neither of those materials leach.

    (3) How many millions of SIGG’s were sold under the guise of being green, and what will their effect be on the landfills now that the greens are dumping them?

    Next, will we learn that reusable shopping bags are worse than paper or plastic?

  2. russ

    The green movement’s track record is not only poor and variable but from party to party it is very inconsistent.

    It gets laughable reading the opposing ‘green’ viewpoints between articles.

    Stainless steel has been available all along but someone ‘green’ nominated SIGG as cool and a must have I guess. They had pretty designs on it!

  3. Simran Sethi

    Thanks everyone for your feedback. I started using SIGGs for the reasons I detail in the post – I thought they were healthy and pretty. I don’t deny that the aesthetic weighed in to my decision! I like pretty things and I was willing to pay a price premium for it. I was not willing to pay a health premium, however. And as soon as I knew of problems, I wrote a post.

    I take issue with the idea that I expected the world to follow my lead. I never claimed to be a green expert. This is an issue I have cared about for a long time and people (in places large and small) started to ask me for advise and gave me that moniker. When asked, I did what I think you would do, Bobby B, and gave people my best answer.

    My goal, as a journalist and associate professor, is to give people the tools to make their own best decisions. I loathe tip lists because they obscure context, but I also recognize not everyone has the time, energy and passion to research every thing that comes through their lives so I give tips when I gotta! We all have to start somewhere. I hope in some way my transparency about my own learning curve will help.

    My best,

  4. Bobby B.


    I quoted a single sentence from your original post to make a blanket statement about the environmental movement at large, which may have been a bit unfair to you individually. However, the environmental movement in concert with the many organizations with which it is networked does seek to impose its will on the whole of the world’s population, especially those in the developed world. I believe that many rank-and-file greens view the imposition of the collective green will as change for the greater good, while those directing the collective seek change for the leveling of a playing field that they see as skewed in favor of people, businesses and politicians that they loathe. You may like the aesthetically pleasing bottle and sincerely believe that lined aluminum presents fewer health risks than plastic, but organized environmentalism seeks to ruin the industrial complex that makes the production of plastic possible.

    With regards to the transparency of your learning curve, your post displays a maturity in journalism that is rarely seen in today’s media. All too often journalists – and professors for that matter – view their positions as bully pulpits to influence their audience’s worldview. We live in a time where most members of the mainstream media and most educators view their positions as extensions of the new Democratic Party’s leftist political agenda, and most members of the alternative media and a few in education view their positions as extensions of the Republican Party’s right-wing agenda. Rather than educating their audiences to make informed decisions as individuals both regularly present a “follow me” form of indoctrination. I applaud your goal “to give people the tools to make their own best decisions,” because society benefits when its members are taught to think for themselves rather that to follow an “expert.”

  5. Disappointed

    Eco-liner may not be the answer for Sigg.

    I am an owner of the “new” eco-liner Sigg bottle, as of May 2009. From normal daily usage with tap water and cleaning, I am now seeing signs of the liner peeling off.

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