Archive for January 2011

Wasteful Plastic Packaging for Food

Wasteful Plastic Packaging for Food

There are several areas where plastics are helpful, where their lighter weight can save tons in shipping costs and fuel expenditures (really, another reason to buy local, but that’s another post). Yesterday, we came across this slide show from The Daily Green of the six worst offenders in food plastic packaging.  You look at the slides and are astounded to see the packaging for such small products all in the name of convenience and the guise of “portion control.” 

Here’s a better solution: buy food local, buy in bulk, and personally package it in reusable containers. I’m partial to these glass containers for food storage and these snack bags for food portability.  What do you think is packaging a small price for convenience? Or do you have other reusable suggestions for how to better package our food? Share them here.

Why Does Glass Sparkle?

In some form or shape, we get the question of what makes glass sparkle a lot. The sparkle, or refractory quality, of glass has to do with two elements: the chemical nature of the glass and the design of the glass itself.

The Chemistry of “Sparkle”

Let’s start by sharing that in glass, there is this thing called the “refractive index.” Glass that seems to glitter against the light is most often due to the inclusion of lead oxide – commonly called lead – which makes it the most refractive on our index.  Back in the day (say, the 17th century), the word “crystal glass” was used to describe a decorative glass that was cut to brilliance and used in fine objects like tableware, chandaliers and other decorative home elements.  (Crystal is from the artists of Venice who used the Italian word “cristallo. Technically glass isn’t crystal because it doesn’t have the required crystaline structure. But no one checks the science, so we still use the phrase “crystal glass.”)  On the opposite end of the index, you have clear, manufactured glass (think of the vase your Valentine’s Day flowers come in) which has been stripped of all the iron, lead, and other impurities naturally found in glass. It has a lower refractive quality, that is to say it doesn’t sparkle quite like the Waterford vase from your grandmother. 

The base ingredient in glass is sand and that plays a big role in sand’s final quality and color. If we were to take sand from the beach and use it in our glass recipe, we’d end up with glass slightly tinted green or blue because of the chemical components of the sand on the beach.  Here in the U.S. most of the sand used in glass production is harvested from Mississippi, Pennsylvania or West Virginia.  All three states offer great quality sand with fewer impurities, which makes a great base for any glass production.

But, believe it or not, impurities actually can help raise glass’ natural tendency to sparkle. So yes, you want your to be a little bit “dirty” if you want it to sparkle.

The Design of “Sparkle”

While the Venetian glass artists were off about calling glass “crystal” they knew more than a few things about design.  By blowing, etching, cutting, and designing the glass in certain ways, they enhanced glass’ natural tendency to sparkle.  By adding in beautiful cut-in designs to tableware, or creating uniform glass pieces designed to catch light in a chandelier, they were using their skills to increase the light captured and refracted back to your admiring eyes.  With stained glass or other glass elements in windows or doors, much is made in how the external light will hit the design during the day, as well as during the year. (Remember, our axis shifts, so light at mid-morning is different in winter than it is in summer.) This design-sense is why people who work with glass are truly artists.

At BottlesUp, we use both chemistry and design to amp up the sparkle factor in our glass water bottles.  Recyled glass has more of the natural chemical compounds found in glass, like iron, that keep it from being too stripped and therefore lower on the refractory index. Our bottles aren’t manufactured either, their created by skilled artisans using ancient techniquest in a modern facility. To enhance this natural beauty, we designed a slight “hammered” effect into the glass to catch the light and help it gleam. Here’s the great part: with a BottlesUp glass water bottle you get a functional water bottle that’s good for your health and the environment, you get a sparkly, beautiful object.

The Carbon Footprint of Everyday Things

I like to follow the good blogs over at GE’s Ecomagination site.  Recently, they posted this interactive infographic that allows you to see the carbon footprint of everyday things – from diapers to ironing a shirt to imported wine, from all flights every day to the energy consumed in the U.S. every year.  It’s an easy infographic to use (I’ll admit, I spent most of my lunch time yesterday clicking through the chart) and it certainly has me thinking a lot more about my own personal carbon footprint.

It’s this kind of impact that focused BottlesUp to a commitment to having the lowest carbon footprint in the water bottle industry.  Our entire product is made in North America and much of the materials are sourced onsite, further reducing our carbon footprint.  Adding to our low carbon footprint is another fact – you won’t find a single ounce of plastic in our product or in our packaging.  We’re commited to creating a product better for your health and the environment.

BPA-Free for Your Health

Levels of BPA found in the human body according to The Environmental Working Group.

Back in the 1950s, we all thought plastics were going to be the “it” material of the future. Without regard for health or environment, we went full throttle ahead and plastic became a way of our everyday lives. But some progress comes at a cost.

Bisphenol A, commonly called BPA, is a controversial manufactured chemical found in the lining of food cans, certain plastic water bottles and other plastic containers. Researchers have linked the hormone-mimicking chemical (it mimics estrogen) to a host of health issues for adults, children and babies. Among the potential links – behavioral and developments effects, especially in growing babies and kids. The smart folks over at Consumer Reports just this past winter called into question the safety of BPA in any food or beverage container.

While more than 8 billion tons of BPA are produced a year, we’re one company committed to being BPA-free. All of our bottles, accessories and packaging are BPA-free and because we’re committed to health and environment, our bottles, accessories and packaging are 100% free of any plastics. Our bottles are made from recycled glass and our grippers and caps are made from 100% food-grade silicone. Rest assured, with BottlesUp, you’re getting a product designed with better health in mind.

STOP Set to Launch, Builds Community

Today, while reading The Economist, I found about a new nonprofit organization working to prevent plastic pollution in the marine environment (that’s the oceans).  Science & Technology against Ocean Plastics (STOP) is set to launch in 14 days, you can sign up to become part of the community here: http://www.stopoceanplastics.org/page/Signup. Or consider attending the upcoming STOP Live Conference being held this June in Los Angeles, Calif.   I’ll be certain to follow the foundations efforts and share the solutions they (and the community) develop.