Brita Wottle – the reusable designer water bottle

Filed in Blog, Product reviews by on November 17, 2010 7 Comments
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Little Miss Green looking pretty in pink

Little Miss Green looking pretty in pink

Little Miss Green’s been sent a present to try. The kind people at Ethical Superstore sent us a designer drinking bottle – the Wottle by Britta to be precise. The design is by Orla Kiely and it’s called ‘stem’.

The bottle holds 500mls so is useful for carrying around during the day.

Here’s the scoop: “BRITA and Orla Kiely were committed to creating a bottle that was not only practical and stylish, but also had impeccable ethical credentials. The Wottle is made from 100% recycled materials, including HDPE plastic. To keep its carbon footprint to a minimum it is made exclusively in the UK, ensuring water drinkers can combine style with environmental responsibility.”

Here’s what we found out after our zero waste towers road test

The Good

  • The packaging is perfect – each bottle comes in recycled cardboard using vegetable inks. The packaging can easily recycled again and is not excessive.
  • The Wottle helps close the loop by utilising recycled materials.
  • The look – these bottles have the eye candy (although men would probably disagree). However, I’ve seen it in a green print too, so perhaps that would be more manly.
  • There are some good messages on the packaging such as ‘refill not landfill’ and the fact we should all stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
  • Made in the UK, so groovy air miles.
  • Dishwasher safe.
  • Wide neck for easy refilling and cleaning.
  • Any product that helps us reduce the need to buy mineral water in plastic bottles gets the thumbs up from us!

The bad

  • The carrying loop – unless you’re a hobbit you can’t really carry it properly because the loop is tiny. Brita go to extravagant lengths to show you three ways to use the carrying loop, but to be honest all are useless. It’s simply something that gets in the way when you’re trying to drink from it.
  • The packaging does not give full instructions about recycling the bottle at end of life. All it says is ‘Made from recycled materials.’ It doesn’t tell you which ones or how to dispose of it responsibly.
  • Lid is not suitable for dishwasher. We don’t have a dishwasher but if I did no doubt I would forget about separating the bottle and top and put them both in. (Tell me, what does happen to the lid in a dishwasher?)
  • Price. I personally would rather spend ยฃ7.95 on a stainless steel bottle than a plastic one. Additionally, paying extra for a designer name on a water bottle doesn’t excite me.

The Ugly

There is no information on the packaging or advertising material about what the bottle is actually made from. As you know, I like to get to the bottom of things and uncover the facts.

What I discovered was the bottle is made from HDPE which is closed loop recycled from the factory. So far so good; that’s the same as milk bottles and is easily recyclable.
The finger grip, however, is made from TPE (Thermoplastic elastomer) and the lid is made from PP (polypropylene). I’m told the whole lot is “marked as plastic type 2 for recycling purposes”.

Ugh?

Does this mean a little contamination is allowed?

I’m no scientist, but a little reading on wikipedia tells me that thermoplastic elastomers, sometimes called thermoplastic rubbers, are a class of copolymers or a physical mix of polymers (usually a plastic and a rubber) which consist of materials with both thermoplastic and elastomeric properties.

Wikipedia go on to say “Advantages are TPE materials have the potential to be recyclable since they can be molded, extruded and reused like plastics, but they have typical elastic properties of rubbers which are not recyclable owing to their thermosetting characteristics.”

So I’m still none the wiser.

Suggestions for improvement

  • With a little more design thought, the carrying loop could have been made longer to allow the average person to get a few fingers in there for carrying in comfort.
  • The first thing Little Miss Green did was push the strap over the cap. She couldn’t use it for carrying because of the design so decided it wasn’t a carrying handle and it was, in fact, to keep you from losing the cap. This is a brilliant idea, but then when she twisted the cap around the carrying strap got caught up. Making a way to avoid a child losing the capย  would be a great design improvement.
  • The bottle could be ergonomically designed. It’s quite heavy when full and makes it hard to hold because the sides are perfectly smooth – there are no indentations to rest your hand naturally. I think young children would find the full bottle could slip out of their hands. So let’s add a few sexy curves to make it sit in the hand easier.
  • The second thing Little Miss Green did was fill the bottle with fizzy water. When I came back to it a few minutes later the bottom of the bottle had blown out and the bottle changed from ‘wottle’ to ‘wobble’. Eventually the bottle fell over, so it’s not suitable for fizzy drinks. The manufacturer doesn’t actually say this on the packaging. By changing the base this could be overcome. Fizzy drinks that come in plastic bottles have a flower design on the bottom that prevent the base losing its shape.

Verdict

I think the Wottle is a half baked idea and as such I’m awarding it 2.5 out of 5.
On the surface it has some great credentials – I LOVE the fact it is made in the UK and is closing the loop – remember, the more we buy recycled products, the more demand we create for recycling materials. The neck is wide which makes cleaning and filling easy and the packaging is ideal.

However, there are some design faults which could be improved. The carrying loop is next to useless and made from this Thermoplastic elastomer which, surely, is unnecessary. Couldn’t the carrying loop be made big enough for the average sized hand AND be made from a moreย  readily recycled material? Or it could be designed to stop a child losing the cap. OR it could be missed off altogether. With the addition of a sexy hip and waist curve, the bottle would be much easier to hold and it needs to be made clearer that fizzy drinks are a no-no.

award 2.5 out of 5

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (7)

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  1. Oh, I got excited when I saw your post title in my feeder, but then not so much when i saw it was made of plastic.

    Recycled or not, I don’t really want to drink my water out of a plastic bottle.

    But if I did, then I’d be interested in the little things. But then, perhaps not. Thanks for getting to the bottom of the details ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Mrs Green says:

    @Julie Gibbons: ๐Ÿ˜€ you’re welcome Julie; I do like to do honest reviews rather than just say everything is great because it’s been sent to me ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. I bought our Wottles off ebay, so they were a bit cheaper. I love the leaf print-it looks like something and environmental-my students all stare at my green Wottle which I keep on my desk in my classroom as teaching can be thirsty work. The design is starting to come off one of ours and I accidentally washed one of the lids in the dishwasher several times and it now has a small crack. I must admit I often walk to work and find it quite handy to have the loop so that I can carry it in my hand without dropping it. I am very paranoid about plastic these days-how can we be sure Wottle is really BPA free?
    We had lots of lemons to process over the summer-a gift from a neighbour. My dear hubby ran out of suitable storage vessels and filled a Wottle with lemon juice. Two days later I found it bulging and looking the worse for wear in the fridge. We managed to get it back to normal. It still has a bit of a wobble. Hubby now has the Wottle with the wobble. I like them, but I think stainless steel bottles like Glogg are probably a better choice in terms of longevity and plastic contamination.

  4. Mrs Green says:

    @zerowastelifestyle: Ahhh, so that’s what happens if you put the caps in the dishwasher; thanks for that.

    Like you, I prefer stainless steel so I know there is no risk of BPA, but for kids metal is a lot heavier than plastic and more expensive – and we all know how readily children seem to lose things! I think the secret is to keep only cool drinks in plastic as warm drinks can cause leaching (in my limited understanding). So you have another wottle with a wobble; funny things aren’t they ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. ruth says:

    I bought a 4 of the wootles at robert dyas for school water bottles and they were cheap! I think ยฃ1 each. and i do wash them (wottle and lid) in the dishwasher and the lids, with the help of the dishwasher (and the help of a 5 year old’s rough and tumble) have cracked and render the bottle useless. dissapointing, I’d love to find replacement lids… will have a look on the web

  6. Karen says:

    I use a stainless steel child size bottle. They are easier to clean well as they tolerate boiling water in them . I use sterilizing tablets for the lids. If reusable bottles are not cleaned properly they start going green and smell. I tend not to fill them full but only the amount of water I will need at the time.

  7. Mrs Green says:

    @ruth: hope you manage to find the lids Ruth and thanks for sharing your story

    @Karen: I use stainless steel too – as you say, you can pour boiling water in them to sort things out…

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