Message in a Bottle by Gia Machlin, March 22 2010, 1 Comment

Plastic Water Bottle Waste

It's World Water Day - a day sanctioned by the United Nations to bring awareness to the fact that by 2030 two-thirds of the world will lack access to clean drinking water. While this sounds alarming, it may not appear to have any immediate effect on those of us who do enjoy clean drinking water in developed countries. The first step to changing this statistic is for us to kick the bottled water habit. But since many of us only really pay attention and change our behavior when maintaining the status quo starts to have immediate, dangerous and life altering consequences, then let me put it in plain dollars and cents: Spending $2 on a bottle of water is equivalent to spending $10,000 on your sandwich today at lunchtime. That's right - so why are we doing it?

Think bottled water is safer, cleaner, more convenient? I thought so maybe as recently as 6 or 7 years ago. I was actually pleased with myself when I bought water instead of soda. I used to love it when I walked into a salon, store or went to an event that offered FREE bottled water - what a treat! How incredibly healthy - fresh pure spring water - yum. Over time, I slowly learned about the devastating environmental and societal effect of these water bottles. I learned that not only is bottled water not safer, but it is less regulated and often contains more contaminants than tap water. Now that I know the facts I find it upsetting and downright offensive when I see people all around me buying and consuming bottled water. But lecturing them is not going to change their behavior. What I can do is lay out the information so that people can make their own responsible choices. Here are a few "must see" tidbits for World Water Day. Pass it on:

The Cycle of Insanity: The Real Story of Water from Surfrider Foundation on Vimeo.

Don't have time to watch these videos? Here are some of the facts in black and white:

• Roughly 38 billion plastic water bottles end up in U.S. landfills each year – 100 million every day! That’s enough, laid end to end, to reach China and back each day.

• In 2006, Americans drank an average 167 bottles of water each for a total of 50 billion bottles (total spent $15 billion). Of that total, only 23% was recycled.

• We are shipping 1 billion water bottles a week around the U.S. in ships, trains, and trucks.

• We are paying 2 to 4 times the cost of gasoline for a product that is virtually free.

• It takes over 700 years for plastic to decompose.

• Plastic pollution is a world-wide problem. There is a growing “garbage patch” of plastic estimated to be more than twice the size of Texas floating in the North Pacific Ocean.

• Picture a disposable water bottle full of petroleum. That is how much petroleum it takes to make and distribute a single plastic bottle of water.

• Currently, the amount of oil we use to produce water bottles each year (17 million barrels) could fuel over 1,000,000 cars for an entire year.

• It takes THREE bottles of water to make and distribute ONE disposable plastic bottle of water.

Please pass this on to anyone you know who still buys or uses bottled water. Thank you!