What difference are you making?
True story - At a lunch meeting last week I grabbed a plastic water bottle despite already having a full reusable water bottle. I looked at the two containers on my desk, and realized that I needlessly contributed to a serious problem. The truth is I grab plastic water bottles more often than I care to admit even though I know they are destroying our environment. Those cold bottles always looks so refreshing and, as a ubiquitous part of American life, I rarely consider the consequences of opening one.
You’ve probably grabbed one recently too. Where were you? At a conference? A birthday party? In the airport?
If you are like the typical American you consume 30.8 gallons of bottled water per year. That’s 246 sixteen ounce bottles per person. (Source)
Here’s the thing, though…Just because everybody is doing it, it doesn’t make the impact any less tragic. Let's change our ways starting today.
Negative Impacts of Bottled Water:
Let’s start with the most obvious and most detrimental impact:
Tons and Tons of Discarded Plastic
Americans only recycle 2 of every 10 water bottles. The other 8 end up in landfills or in our water system. (Source)
If you can, please watch the videos below about the North Pacific Garbage Patch, one of five areas in our oceans teeming with plastic debris. If you can’t watch, here are a few takeaways:
- The North Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of Texas, weighs at least 100 million pounds, and is continuously growing.
- The ocean now contains 60 times more plastic than zoo-plankton.
- Plastic breaks down in the water, releasing toxins (like BPA) into the water. Although it breaks down (into plastic sludge) it does not biodegrade. It’s eaten by fish and animals. Who eventually eats those toxin filled fish? You got it, us.
Here are a few more reasons to ditch the plastic bottles:
It takes 3 liters of water to produce a single liter of bottled water. For a resource that many countries would literally kill for, this seems the epitome of wastefulness. (Source)
Wasted Fossil Fuels
You remember oil? That thing in limited supply causing wars around the world? The oil required to produce America's supply of bottled water could heat 190,000 homes for a year. (Source)
Negative Impact on the Communities Near Bottled Water Manufacturing Facilities
The majority of our bottled water comes from California which, in case you've been living under a rock, is in an extreme drought. While your neighbor Joe gets fined for watering his lawn, the bottled water companies suck as much water out of the ground as they like without repercussion (and then send it to non-drought ridden areas of the country). Infuriating. (Source 1) (Source 2)
Unnecessary Exposure to Chemicals.
Plastic from water bottles leeches into the bottled water particularly when exposed to extreme temperatures (like in your car in Tennessee every day of the summer).
As mentioned above, plastic in the water supply breaks down in the sun and releases chemicals into our oceans and rivers. Fish eat and absorb those chemicals and the toxins get passed right up the food chain to us.
You Never Really Know What's In That Bottled Water
Consider these facts from foodandwaterwatch.org:
"According to a 2010 survey, only 3 companies provide the public with the same level of information available for tap water. This includes where the water came from, how it was treated and what the results of the water quality tests were.
Independent testing of bottled water conducted by the Environmental Working Group in 2008 found that 10 popular brands of bottled water, purchased from grocery stores and other retailers in 9 states and the District of Columbia, contained 38 chemical pollutants, with an average of 8 contaminants in each brand."
What can you do? Take the “Bottle Free Until 2015” pledge with me and commit to not using plastic water bottles for the next 3 months. By doing so, each of us will keep 62 water bottles out of circulation and contribute to personal health and the health of our communities and waterways. This is one of those pledges that (I hope) is easier than it sounds. We fortunately have safe, clean drinking water readily available.
To join the pledge, sign the petition below. Encourage your friends to join by sharing your commitment and this post on Facebook and Twitter. Together we can make a difference.
Resources To Help you Succeed
You really shouldn't "need" anything to succeed at this pledge besides a cup and a faucet. If you want to invest in a good reusable water bottle, though, here are a few recommendations (affiliate links).
The water bottle I use everyday is the Wide Mouth 40 oz. Stainless Steel Klean Kanteen. This dishwasher safe bottle comes in 24, 40, and 64 oz. sizes. I use the 40 oz. bottle because I drink a LOT of water during the day and a 24 oz. bottle just isn't large enough. The only downside is that I'm also very clumsy so my bottle has a few dents and dings from dropping it. I call those evidence of a life well lived.
For those of you who don't need as large a bottle as me, check out the 22 oz. Glass Lifefactory bottle. If they made this bottle in a larger size, it would be my primary water bottle. I love the glass and I love the look.
Nora uses the stainless steel Safe Sippy as her water bottle. She looks super cute drinking from a stainless steel bottle, if I do say so myself.
Developing this pledge I realized that I need an alternative to water bottles for Nora's birthday party later this month (which, holy heck, I need to start planning). I'm looking into something like this 2 gallon glass dispenser, but if anyone has any other suggestion for what to use at a party, please send it my way.
Who's with me?! Let’s ensure we don’t destroy the very thing we are so fortunate to have.
I'll provide updates on the pledge on the blog, Facebook, and Twitter (click the icons below or sign up or subscribe to email updates).