In, oh, ten years of using only a bike for transportation, I have yet to find the perfect waterbottle solution. Since I started biking, I’ve generally used some form of the generic plastic bottle–you know, the kind where you can open it with your teeth while you’re biking and hydrate yourself on the go.
That’s the bottle I’ve been using for the last few months, for example. The problem with these bottles, though, is that no matter how much you wash them, the top inevitably develops internal mold. Unless you can actually totally remove the nozzle part, there’s no way to get in there to scrub it all, or to dry it. And thus it molds.
As one of the most cavalier people I know when it comes to germs, I generally just pretend like the mold doesn’t exist until it becomes so obvious that I worry I might be embarrassing myself by carrying it around in public–but that doesn’t seem super ideal. Of course, if you don’t use your water bottle that much, mold probably isn’t a problem. But I’ve got some pretty long commutes and a penchant for joyriding–which means that I’m pretty constantly using my water. Even alternating between two bottles doesn’t really give either one a chance to dry out completely.
I know I could just use a bottle until it’s gross and then get a new one, but that rankles my sense of sustainability. So in the quest for a bottle that won’t mold, that I can wash and use forever, I’ve started with the Kleen Kanteen, a BPA-free, aluminum-free, totally washable bottle that should last forever. And since it doesn’t have that silly little nozzle, I can wash every part of it. No mold!
However, not having that nozzle means that I can’t drink water as I’m biking. It’s perhaps not a huge deal. It may just mean that I need to change my biking habits, to take long drinks before I start and after I’m done and then not worry about the middle. However, like I said, I do have some pretty long commutes, and I hate the inefficiency of stopping in the middle to unscrew my waterbottle and get a drink.
More than that, though, the Kleen Kanteen doesn’t really fit in my bottle cage. To adapt, I wrapped it up in this weird purple faux-leather superhero belt that I found in our basement (don’t ask me where that came from!:), so it looks sort of like this:
The belt gives it enough padding that it doesn’t rattle around in my cage when I hit bumps, but it also means that it’s incredibly annoying to put the bottle back on my bike once I take it off. Because the belt isn’t super tight, I can’t just slip the whole deal back into the cage; I have to make sure the belt pulls down with the bottle, that it doesn’t just shimmy up the side of it and leave the bottle rattling in the cage but with a great purple belt bunched up around the top of it.
Perhaps a better wrapping technique is in order. Maybe bungee cords would work.
So I don’t know. This problem of water bottles certainly isn’t the end of the world, but I wonder if anyone else out there has come up with a splendid idea that solves both the mold and the sustainability problems. Thoughts?