The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

December 23, 2008

Hey Klean Kanteen! What’s with the plastic cap?

January 2011 Update: Good news. Klean Kanteen has developed a plastic-free cap! The new Reflect Klean Kanteen water bottle comes with a bamboo/metal cap with a silicone ring. The bamboo caps are also sold separately to fit other styles of Klean Kanteen bottles, but unfortunately, those bottles still come automatically with plastic caps.)

Friday I had the great privilege of hanging out with Ruchi, she of the Arduous Blog, who came to town for the holidays. We ate apple pie with caramel sauce and ice cream. We walked around the Castro. We chatted with the new owner of the Eco Boutique on 18th Street. We should have gone karaoke singing, as according to her current blog post it’s something Ruchi loves to do. Instead, we visited the one and only Rainbow Grocery.

Ruchi needed a new Klean Kanteen. Her old one was rudely stolen, as regular readers of her blog know, shortly before she left London to come home. And Rainbow Grocery sells them, along with bins and bins of every bulk item you could imagine and some you might not. The trouble was too much choice and no perfect solution.

All Klean Kanteens come with a plastic cap now. Just Ducky ranted about this fact back in March. If you want a stainless steel cap, you have to purchase it separately, which still leaves you with a plastic cap that you might not want.

Rainbow carries other brands of stainless steel water bottles, including one from Down To Earth distributors. This bottle comes with a stainless steel cap, but it’s packaged in a cardboard box with a plastic bag inside. The Klean Kanteen was packaging-free. When I mentioned to Ruchi that we didn’t know what kind of packaging it might have been shipped in before being placed on the shelf, she said that shopping with me was stressful.

We definitely should have gone karaoke singing.

Ruchi ended up with the Klean Kanteen and a pouty face. I told her I’d blog about the Klean Kanteen plastic cap if she would. Are you all up for a quick email campaign to Klean Kanteen right before Christmas? Here’s the contact info:

Klean Kanteen
4345 Hedstrom Way
Chico, California 95973
tel (530) 345-3275
fax (530) 345-3568

And here is the message I just sent:

Date: December 23, 2008

Hi there. As you all probably know, I’ve been promoting Klean Kanteen on my blog, Fake Plastic Fish, for quite a while. I do feel that, other than a glass jar, it’s the best option available for reusable water bottles. I’m just wondering about your switch to a polypropylene cap.

While I can understand that some customers may want the plastic cap for their own reasons, there are those of us who choose the stainless steel cap and don’t want to have to purchase it in addition to the plastic cap we didn’t want in the first place. Have you thought about offering a choice of plastic OR stainless steel (rather than plastic PLUS stainless steel?)

Many of us choose Klean Kanteen because we are trying very hard to lower our plastic consumption. Being stuck with a plastic cap we don’t want or need does not help us reach that goal.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this issue. And just to be clear, I’m not asking that you do away with the plastic caps but that you offer a real choice to those who don’t want them.


Beth Terry

Okay Ruchi. Your turn.

You might also enjoy...


Get 15% off at Guided!

I love Guided Products recycled binders & notebooks. Read my review.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
David Chang
12 years ago

I think the stainless steel cap is itself flawed. Like what Guri said, it contains plastic, and because of this, has a number of detrimental effects. To add to the list Guri had, I’d like to add that the plastic and the metal parts separate after a while. This is a big problem, as it means that this “stainless steel” cap is more fragile than the plastic one. What would solve all the problems the now-extinct metal cap has is if the cap was made entirely out of metal (save for maybe a rubber seal to keep the bottle from leaking). Then, no water would get trapped in the cap. I think Klean Kanteen has stood for quality in the past (for a price). Why take these shortcuts that compromise this reputation?

Of course, I don’t expect Klean Kanteen to change its ways now that it’s been almost three years since the original post, but I thought I would speak my mind anyways. I tried looking for a stainless steel cap for my recently purchased klean kanteen, but after reading all the negativity, I’m thinking about getting another bottle, altogether, one made entirely out of stainless steel.

Mike Loves Water
13 years ago

Hello- I love the Klean Kanteen Sports Top 2.0— just received the new replacement post the recall that KK did-

This top is easy to use and provides the best flow on the market in my opinion….even makes a cool sound when drinking from it!

13 years ago

Are you people really whining about a plastic cap vs stainless one? Hey guess what?? The stainless one contains plastic. Oh, and it rusts, leaks, and holds water, which will start to grow bacteria, and make your water taste even WORSE than the plastic cap, so……get over it. One plastic cap on every Klean Kanteen won’t kill this planet. Recycle it when you’re done. I can’t understand why you all make such a big deal from something so small?

Nesto rodriguez
13 years ago

I definitely prefer the stainless cap but have no problem using the plastic one. The idea behind kleen Kanteen is to avoid using/buying one time use plastic bottles and steer clear of bpa. If you wanna avoid plastic all together you’ll probably have to go live in the woods like the original man. The idea is to cut down where you can and when you can. Kleen Kanteen is a small town company that has less than 50 employees. Just chill

Amaya 5
14 years ago

FYI… I remembered this post earlier today when I was in REI. SIGGS has a “RETRO Anniversary” metal top out right now with their SS container. The only apparent plastic-like product on the container is the rubber stopper in the cap, for sealing. If you are looking to stock up they are on sale too right now at REI.

Holly Musgrove
14 years ago

Hi Beth,

Just wanted to let you know that I returned-to-sender my an unsolicited item I received in the mail today. It was a stand-up thank you calendar encased in hard plastic. You open it up and switch the pages as each month goes by. This was a thank-you gift for a donation to charity. My note read that while I was happy to have been financially able to donate to their charity, I am reducing my use of plastic and to please reuse this calendar for someone else. Thanks again for all your inspiration.

Beth Terry
14 years ago

Hi Beany. Re: stalking. Get in line. You’d just be an anonymous face lost in the crowd of paparazzi that follow me everywhere.

On the other hand, ice cream sounds awesome. Let’s hang out!

14 years ago

When I left for my (sorta) cross country trip, I bought many kleen kanteens (I think I bought 5) and the lack of not having a stainless steel cap bugged me. With all our purchases I was careful to follow your guidelines and when I remembered – send my little letter to them about not using plastic for wrapping. I got sidetracked with everything else, but was glad to see this issue brought up again.

And hey! Its Ruchi on yer blog!

I hope to come up to SF next year and perhaps stalk you without causing you alarm. Or we could meet up like normal people and have ice cream

14 years ago

I have never understood the big deal about Kleen Kanteens. A friend gave me an extra one of hers. When I opened it, out came a whiff of mildew from the stupid plastic cap that had a microscopic leak for liquid to seep into and never get out. That's not kleen. A real canteen is made of metal. has a metal, screw-on cap and it's spelled with a "c". I got rid of that unkleen kanteen and then looked in recycle bins until I saw an empty, sturdy glass bottle of Arizona tea with a screw-on metal cap and would you believe me if I told you I have used it for over a year with no (!) problem? If that sucker wears out, I will recycle it and then look for a replacment bottle that's waiting to be recycled or maybe I'll dip into my savings & buy myself a brand, new bottle. Kleen, my phoot.

ruchi aka arduous
14 years ago

You know, the thing is, I wouldn’t mind paying extra for a stainless steel cap. I get that stainless steel is more expensive to produce than plastic. But the way they were sold at Rainbow Grocery, you had no choice to buy one with a plastic cap, and then you could have chosen to buy a stainless steel cap separately (stainless steel cap was wrapped in plastic btw) so you wouldn’t have eliminated any plastic waste. I just find it irritating that the plastic cap is the default and you don’t get a choice.

14 years ago

We are a Klean Kanteen retailer offering customers the choice of a stainless steel top at purchase. Unfortunately, because Klean Kanteen charges extra to us for the stainless steel option, we must pass that cost on to consumers.

I am not a Klean Kanteen representative, but my guess is they choose plastic as the traditional option because some people like to use the dishwasher for their tops and the plastic top weighs less. Plastic tops are probably also easier and cheaper to manufacture.

The way to change the paradigm is to create demand. If retailers like myself see more people choosing stainless steel caps, we are going to order more from Klean Kanteen. Klean Kanteen will manufacture more and eventually stainless steel will be the default choice.

Keep up the good work here! I love reading fake plastic fish.

Green & Clean Mom
14 years ago

First, that stinks about her water bottle being stolen. RUDE. Second, bummer about the plastic. I agree with Green Bean about that being annoying.

John Costigane
14 years ago

Hi Beth,

Why should people be financially penalised for choosing the metal lid option? The more I see such plastic preferencing, the more I agree with your view on plastic avoidance.

Green Bean
14 years ago

You are right. That plastic cap is SO annoying. I have it on a few but scored a couple Kleen Kanteen’s at Slow Food Nation with the metal cap.

14 years ago

This reminds me of when I was in college, and I was getting a certain prescription with a reusable plastic dispenser from the campus pharmacy. Once out of college, I continued to get the prescription, and when I asked about not getting the *disposable* dispenser they offered for every refill, the pharmacist looked at me and said, “you know, you can just throw it away.” Argh.