A million plastic bottles are bought around the world every minute. Dismally, the number is predicted to jump another 20% by 2021, creating an environmental crisis that contributes to climate change in every stage of its life. Fewer than half of these single use bottles are collected for recycling and just 7% of those that are collected are actually recycled and turned into new bottles. Instead, most plastic bottles produced end up in a landfill or in the ocean.
Between 5m and 13m metric tons of plastic leaks into the world’s oceans each year to be ingested by sea birds, fish and other organisms. By 2050 the ocean will contain more plastic by weight than fish, according to research by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Globally, we are ingesting an average of 5 grams of plastic every week, the equivalent of a credit card. This plastic contamination comes from “microplastics”—particles smaller than five millimeters—which are making their way into our food, drinking water and even the air. While this is an environmental concern that has been fashioned as a problem for the future, the single use plastic curse could also be negatively affecting human health today.
Additionally, corporations that sell plastic water bottles are oftentimes extremely unethical. Nestlé, the world’s largest bottled water company, continues to take millions of gallons of free water from the San Bernardino National Forest two hours east of Los Angeles, 17 months after California regulators told them they had no right to much of what they’d taken in the past. And federal officials are helping them do it, despite concluding that Nestlé is drying up springs and streams and damaging a watershed.
The company says it is legally entitled to every drop, and is “sustainably collecting water at volumes believed to be in compliance with all laws and permits at this time.” However, federal officials have stated that “the current water extraction is drying up surface water resources (springs and streams) that would have normally been perennial water resources” and that the current extraction of water is not in accordance with a land management plan.
One way that plastic pollution can be curtailed is through choosing to drink from a reusable water bottle as opposed to the single use alternative. However, it can be difficult to find safe drinking water (ahem, Flint) in some places in the world. While at home, we like to use Brita filters (or any other alternative that purifies tap water). This allows us to choose a more sustainable alternative while staying hydrated!
We are fortunate enough to live in Flagstaff, Arizona where the tap water is basically mountain spring water—we just drink straight from the tap! However, when travelling, procuring access to safe drinking water can be a struggle. We like to use Go Pure Pod, a portable water purifier. With this small, handy item, we can fill up our reusable water bottles with safe drinking water anywhere, anytime.
Using this option allows us to refuse single use plastic water bottles while staying hydrated. If you have the means, purchase a Go Pure Pod! We love ours!