|Onya water bottles|
I first came across Onya bags six years ago, when I was co-running the parenting website www.iwantmymum.com (now no longer, so don't looking for it). Onya bags (so named cos they're always 'onya') are reusable bags that scrunch up small and have a clip so you can attach them to your keys/bag/whatever. I think they were made of old parachute silk before, but now they're all made out of recycled plastic bottles. (Technology pioneered by the sportswear company Patagonia some fifteen years ago.)
|Lovely Onya bags|
Anyway. They made great little presents, these little bags that folded up really small, came in bright colours, and then folded out to make useful shopping bags. I featured them in my Guardian Personal Shopper column and got to know Dan a bit over the phone. Onya bags had an awe inspiring back story which I shan't share here as it's not mine to share. Suffice to say it'd make you cry. I happened to go on Jeremy Vine's Radio 2 show one day - this was about five years ago - when I mentioned Onya bags, saying I didn't know why the big supermarkets didn't use them, putting their logo on. (I felt that, hitherto, all reusable bags were either too small or too big, or just not right, but Onya bags seemed to have pretty much carved out a place as the best sort of reusable bag.)
In the taxi on the way home, Dan rang me to say that Tesco had rung him, wanting to place an initial order of 500,000. I think you can work out that this would be pretty life changing for anyone. But Dan turned Tesco down. That's just the sort of guy he is. He never publicized this amazing show of integrity.
I kept in touch with Dan, and what Onya bags were doing over the years and the whole range has come on hugely. There are now ruck sacks which unfold out of small bags, lunch rolls (really rather good, Dan sent me two free and they work brilliantly for small children as it also provides a surface for them to eat off when you're on the go), little pouches to keep your dog-poop bags in.
But the piece de resistance, for me, came when they introduced stainless steel bottles. This was right in the middle of the story that was following another water bottle manufacturer around as it couldn't confirm its liners were BPA free. Onya bottles are all stainless steel - no liner - and they come in a variety of sizes and the great thing is that you can put anything in them - water, juice, cordial, hot drinks, cold drinks (they are not thermal however). In lined aluminum bottles you can't put anything like fruit juice as the acid would erode the lining over time. I was also glad of how industrial they looked, as I was a bit over cutesy fairies and farm animals by this stage.
We all have them from the 350ml size to the 1000ml size; with the neoprene sleeve and lanyard they make a great cycling companion. My eldest takes hers to school every day. They come in various colours, but note that the coloured ones that I bought chipped in places over time - but that's okay as there's just a plain stainless steel bottle underneath. Also various ways of drinking from them: you can even get a 'teat' for a baby. My prefence is for the screw off cap as I like to drink my water straight from stainless steel and not through plastic (I've never found any sort of plastic lid you can drink through that doesn't slightly make the water taste different, and this is a pet hate of mine). But if you do choose a drinking lid - and they're great for children - then I recommend these flip and flow ones. You can also get adapters so you can use these on your bike.
I now buy the 350ml size for my friends whose children are starting school. It's a boring, but useful present. My eldest has been using hers every day since she started school four years ago and it's still like new (with a few tiny dents in it). Prices for the bottles start at £8.50.
Note: Dan gave me a discount on some of the Onya bags he sold me about six years ago, and he sent me two free Onya Lunches, quite unbidden, a while ago. Other than that, I paid for everything at full retail price.