Nalgene water bottles emerged in my house not long after my mother signed me up for summer swimming lessons – my very first extra-curricular activity. These swimming lessons were vignettes of me being yelled at by my coach, me accidentally drinking chlorinated water, as well as being dried by my mother with a towel after class and downing regular water. That summer equipped our household with Nalgene water bottles of different volumes, both wide mouth and narrow mouth. Needless to say, Nalgene became a staple of our family’s backpacking trips to Lantau and the countryside.
Founded in the United States, Nalgene water bottles caught on with Hong Kong in the 90’s. Back then, its logo featured a mountain lion, which I never quite understood. My mother reasoned that the bottles were impact- and heat-resistant – sturdy like the big cat. I never drank hot water, so all that functionality seemed nonsense to me. I just needed a nice-looking bottle to carry some water.
To my surprise, our Nalgene water bottles were sturdy as they were marketed, to the extent that I found them impossible to replace – even if I tried. Now when I go hiking, I always bring a Nalgene bottle and a soft flask to balance my backpack. The much newer soft flask only lasted three to five years before it wore out and eventually soaked my bag. That’s when I felt lucky for having kept my Nalgene all these years. I used to look down on its old-school design, but it didn’t matter anymore.
The bottom-line is: it’s best to make the most out of existing plastic. I’m not a qualified environmentalist, still it repels me whenever I see bins, hills and seas littered with store-bought, one-off plastic bottles. The problem is not so much the material itself as our use of it. If possible, we should try to get rid of one-off plastic products in the market.
Ironically, this Nalgene water bottle is the last one standing. Its markings have faded, its classic logo barely visible. I can’t say it’s a beautiful bottle, but I’m going to try and use it until the very end – when I can still help myself with a drink.