Hey there readers! Welcome to summer, at last! And what does summer mean to me? Summer means long, hot days at the park, the beach, on boats, eating ice cream, going to fairs…and drinking lots and lots of water.
Most of us find ourselves out at an event and, when we get thirsty, we go buy an overpriced water bottle from the nearest vendor, right? And then what? When we finish it, we throw the bottle away in the nearest trash can. We tend to be creatures of convenience, and most venues do not have recycling bins available, so what else are we supposed to do with our empty water bottles except throw them away?
Alternatively, maybe we’ve packing for a day at the park, a kid’s soccer game, a day at the beach, etc. and we run to the store and grab a cheap pack of water bottles. They’re easy, they’re convenient, they’re perfect for sharing with family and friends. And when they’re empty, what do we do? We throw them in the nearest trash can. Because most parks, beaches, and soccer fields do not have recycling bins.
But maybe titling this post, “Water Bottle Crisis,” is a bit dramatic? I mean, crisis? Really? I’ll let you decide.
According to earthday.org (https://www.earthday.org/2015/01/30/money-in-a-bottle/), 17 million barrels of oil (enough to fuel 100,000 cars) are needed to produce the number of plastic water bottles we use worldwide every year. However, only 23% of those water bottles get recycled. That equates to 10-20 million tons of plastic ending up in our oceans and landfills every. Single. Year.
A different resource, theworldcounts.com (http://www.theworldcounts.com/stories/Bottled_Water_Waste_Facts), has a number of additional facts. I’ll list just a few:
- “It takes 1 PET plastic bottle 700 years to start decomposing. Bacteria, which usually helps in breaking down organic materials, don’t like petroleum based plastics. Technically, they can last forever.”
- “There’s an area in the Pacific Ocean the size of Texas – known as The Great Pacific Garbage Patch – which is composed of plastic. (2)”
- “Only 1 out of 5 plastic bottles is recycled. The rest just becomes litter or get buried somewhere. (1)”
Additionally, there are a host of potential heath risks in drinking from plastic bottles:
- “Antimony, which causes dizziness and depression and even death can be found in PET plastic bottles. (4)”
- “Plastic bottles also contain Bisphenol A which has been linked to obesity, diabetes and cancer.”
- “The plastic bottles may be BPA-Free but there are chemicals in the bottles, such as phthalates, can seep into the drink and be harmful to your health.”
So we’re willing to sacrifice our earth and our health for the mere convenience of an easy to grab plastic water bottle? Apparently the answer is, “Yes.” And I’m guilty of it too. I’m guilty of it, as I suspect most of us are.
So is calling it a crisis too dramatic? I don’t think so, and I hope you don’t either.
What can we do to reduce the plastic waste?
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again…buy a reusable water bottle! Take it with you everywhere. Not only will you drink more water throughout the day, but a reusable water bottle is healthier and saves, on average, 167-1,460 disposable water bottles every year – and a reusable water bottle lasts for years! (that estimate assumes the average number of water bottles an American buys every year according to https://www.earthday.org/2015/01/30/money-in-a-bottle/, and the upper range assumes a person buys all their drinking water for the day in plastic bottles). I love my Camelbak water bottle (you can get them here), but there are also plenty of other brands and styles if you don’t like the sippy spout.
If that doesn’t catch your attention, think of the monetary savings of having a reusable water bottle. According to earthday.org (https://www.earthday.org/2015/01/30/money-in-a-bottle/), “The average American buys an average of 167 disposable plastic water bottles, costing you $266, a year.” By comparison, a reusable water bottle costs around $20. I’ve reused the same water bottle for 4 years now, so my average savings are around $1,044! ($266 x 4 years less the $20 it cost to buy my reusable bottle).
But what about day trips with the family? Are you supposed to have 3 or 4 reusable bottles per person just lying around at home for such occasions? If you can and want to, more power to you! Personally, I suggest a more economical option would be to purchase a large reusable jug or two (you can buy them on Amazon here). Just bring along some cups and you’re all set!
Finally, if you find you must buy water for any reason, here are some tips to reduce the waste:
- Buy the least quantity you possibly can.
- For a family outing, buy water in gallon jugs or even 5 gallon jugs if you’re going to be stationary or have a “base camp” you can leave water at.
- For individual use or if you need to carry your water buy large water bottles and share if possible. When you run out of water, refill those bottles at a water fountain.
- Whenever possible, bring home the empty plastic containers and recycle them!
Have a happy summer and stay hydrated!
*Full disclosure, there are a few links to Amazon in this article. If you click those links and make a purchase, I get a small commission. That, however, is not my primary reason for recommending the products I have links to. Those are products I use and love and are only meant as a visual references/suggestions. There are plenty of other products and places you can buy them if you so choose!