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ISSUE 117 VOL 3 PUBLISHED 10/3/2003

Nalgene epidemic

By Diana Frantz
Variety Editor

Friday, October 3, 2003

Are there any college students who can live without that precious lump of indestructible plastic known as a Nalgene bottle? Most students are, in fact, the proud owners of multiple bottles varying in color, size and style. A peek at a student’s favorite Nalgene bottle is a glimpse into the inner-workings of his or her very soul. Some are covered with activist stickers; others are painted with sparkly nail polish. There is, however, a darker side to the Nalgene phenomenon begging to be explored.

After years of ignoring the health benefits of consuming eight eight-ounce glasses of water every day, students finally began to heed the advice of physicians filling and refilling their oh-so-cool 32 ounce Nalgene bottles multiple times throughout the day. With the handy, durable Nalgenes, drinking lots of water became easy and the Nalgene craze soon took off.

Unfortunately, most water guzzling Nalgene fanatics tend to forget one fairly important step in caring for their Nalgenes as well as for their own health. Basically, students don’t consider it necessary to wash their Nalgene bottles.

In an informal poll around the St. Olaf campus it was discovered that many students, who had no visible hygiene problems (their teeth and hair appeared recently brushed and bodies recently bathed), had not washed their Nalgene bottles in a considerable amount of time. Here are a few excerpts from the short interviews conducted with Nalgene toting Oles (names will not be given to protect the GUILTY):

1. "So when’s the last time you washed your Nalgene?" "Ummmm…I think I might have put it in the dishwasher when I was home in June." 2. "How often do you wash your Nalgene bottle?" "Maybe, like once or twice during the semester since I only put water in it."

Are these students correct in assuming that because they put only water in their Nalgenes, the bottles will not get dirty? Not at all. The water they put in the bottles may be clean, but the lips that sip from these holy plastic chalices are full of bacteria. Regular cleansing of the bottles is necessary. regardless of whether the Nalgene bottle holds water or juice.

Shirley Herreid, St. Olaf College’s Nurse Practitioner suggested that students use common sense and logic. Rather than washing their Nalgene bottles once or twice per year, they should rinse their Nalgene bottles daily. She also encouraged students to refrain from sharing their Nalgene bottles and to clean them especially well when they are sick.

Bacterial cultures conducted by undergraduates in biology classes across the country, including those at St. Olaf have increased awareness of the dirt behind Nalgene bottles. Samples have revealed that students’ Nalgene bottles are often as infested with bacteria as toilet seats.

Before gulping down that next satisfying swallow of yummy Northfield water, take a trip to the sink, dump a little Dawn into that shiny stylin’ bottle and clean that Nalgene thoroughly before it becomes a biohazard.

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