water bottle_120It’s well known in environmental advocacy that people can easily be overwhelmed by problems. They wind up feeling paralyzed, rather than motivated. In the past, I’ve treated this as a theoretical point about communications, but just this morning I’ve had to admit that I’m a living example. Here’s how.

Mountain Equipment Co-op, (aka “the REI of Canada”), just pulled from shelves a batch of polycarbonate plastics, including those ubiquitous Nalgene bottles. According to an article in the Globe and Mail:

The plastic in question is made mostly from bisphenol A, which mimics estrogen and is derived from petrochemicals. It has been linked in dozens of independent research studies to illnesses that could be caused by hormone disruption.

Now, I’ve known about the research for years. But I use those products, including the problematic Nalgene bottles, a lot. (I’m a semi-rabid hiker, backpacker, and mountain climber.) Over the last couple of years alone, I’ll bet I’ve guzzled hundreds of gallons of water from those bottles while on the trail. My bottles are old and battered, and the plastic is degraded by sunlight, heat, and ice.

Is this bad for me? What are the potential health effects? I don’t know. I keep ignoring the research. And I literally—literally—cannot get myself to finish reading the Globe and Mail article.