Two words: the future.
Countless people of all ages claim to be mindful of environmental sustainability. Countless people are obsessed with doing the right thing. Why, then, do plastic water bottles get thrown all over campuses, streets, and into the ocean? Hypocrisy! It is one thing to say you are eco-friendly, but another to understand what that means and understand the repercussions for even the smallest negligence. This is a serious problem in society, and one that cannot be taken lightly. It is wrong to not care about the environment. It is wrong to be ignorant of the fact that this world is going to come to an end much sooner than expected if plastic continues to plague multiple ecosystems. Very few people seem to be interested in talking about these issues and coming up with solutions. Someone’s got to do it, right?
Let’s begin with how plastic water bottles are made. The basic method for production is universal. In 2014, over 17 million barrels of oil were used to produce the bottles in the United States alone. Isn’t there enough political war going on in the world over oil already? Furthermore, it takes no less than twice as much water to produce each plastic water bottle than the amount of water contained in each bottle. The raw material necessary to produce these plastics are draining the world’s resources on exponential levels. You must realize that “renewable resources” cannot be renewable if recycling doesn’t even occur. As much as it’s believed to happen, it’s not as common as you might think.
No matter what you’ve heard, plastic water bottles are nowhere near sustainable. What’s worse is that nearly all plastic water bottles are not actually recycled! They’re thrown into the ocean or some landmass that will pollute the planet tenfold. Nor are they biodegradable. The plastics break down into tiny pieces which are then consumed by fish. In turn, you eat those fish every day. The injection of chemicals transports from plastic to fish to humans! Also, if fishermen are too slow to catch those fish, they will die anyways from the mass accrual of plastic in their stomachs. The same holds true for all animals in nature.
Tap water in the United States is typically tested every four hours for toxins and other chemicals. It is far safer to simply drink from the tap or buy a filter if you’re in any way concerned with the tap. Just don’t go out to the store and buy bottles. You might think it’s easier or safer, but it’s not. Imagine for instance you drank two bottles of water every day for the next 80 years. That’s 58,400 bottles of water. It’s more realistic that you’d be drinking three or four, since 33.8 ounces—as you know—is nowhere near enough water to consume per day. Three bottles equate to 87,600, and four bottles equate to 116,800 bottles. And that’s just per one person. Imagine all 7.5 billion people on planet earth drank four plastic water bottles per day for the next 80 years. By 2100, that would be 876,000,000,000,000 plastic water bottles. That number is eight hundred seventy-six trillion. Imagine all the fish and animals that would die! Imagine all the chemicals you would intake by eating animals that were affected. Imagine all those bottles that are not recycled.
When you leave a plastic water bottle in the car on a hot summer day, the UV radiation from the sun and the general heat from the car causes the plastic to contaminate the liquid water. When you ingest even the smallest amounts, it leads to a whole range of bodily harms including diarrhea, diabetes, inability to have children, various cancers, and heart disease. In essence, you risk so much for something so little.
It’s getting to be that time of the year again—the time where many catch the flu and head colds and sore throats. It may surprise you that refilling your plastic water bottles contributes to that. Refilling causes an increase in exposure to plastic breakdown mixing with the liquid inside the bottle. Protect yourself! You have the power to say no. It’s that simple.
The absolute worst thing you can do is continue to buy these plastics. And if you do, you’re pushing it even further to just throw the bottles in the street. It’s not a guarantee that your placement of bottles into the recycle bin will actually get recycled, it’s much safer to do so than to think it’s okay to throw the bottle into nature.
Since everyone seems to be obsessed with doing the right thing, it is much more honorable to go out there and buy a reusable bottle like a Yeti or Hydro Flask. Buy a Brita Filter for your place of residency. Put aside the ignorance to the truth of things. Put to rest the $3.99 purchases of 24 bottles. According to the EPA, for the price of one bottle of water, you can get 1,000 gallons of tap water. Pretty impressive, right? You’ll save yourself a fortune in life by investing once in a $19.99 or $29.99 flask bottle than to repetitively go out and buy plastic bottles.
This is the world you are living in. Make a change. Everyone’s decision right now, on this day, makes all the difference in the world. Don’t think that just because you are one person, your decision to stop supporting pollution won’t matter. It will matter! Spread the word every way you can. Write articles like this and post them everywhere. Tell your friends and family this is a serious problem. There’s never been a better time than today to start. Get out there and do it. Change is as simple as you make it.