Saturday, August 18, 2012

Plastic Problem

So I will use this post to talk about what I consider one of the biggest environmental problems happening today... bottled water. According to Brita's website, Americans used enough water bottles to stretch around the Earth 190 times in 2008. I got nerdy and did some calculations to find out just how many water bottles that is. Earth's circumference is 24,901 miles and each mile is 5,280 feet. Assuming each water bottle is 1 foot long (they're actually probably a little less), that's 24,980,683,200 water bottles. Another fact on Brita's website states that 69% of those bottles are not recycled and end up in landfills. Which brings me to my first rant... Why would you not recycle?!?! I've seen people throw bottles into the trash when there is a recycling bin right next to it and it drives me crazy. When my eye stops twitching and I come back to the brink of sanity, I wonder, "Are they just lazy?" Even if you don't care about the environment, throwing away bottles is like throwing away money that could help our economy. Bottles put into the recycling are sometimes used to make products right here in America, which saves companies from the cost of having to produce new plastic. More often though, we sell the bottles to China, where they make stuff and send it back to us. So while shipping bottles around the world is not the most environmentally-friendly solution, at least they are being reused and it's making money for the United States. And those bottles in the trash take up lots of landfill space that could be used for our other garbage. If that keeps happening, pretty soon landfills are going to open up closer and closer to your house. Ok rant done... for now.

Producing all those bottles takes a lot of energy, whether they are made from recycled plastic or new plastic. Producing one bottle of water takes about 2,000 times more energy than producing tap water. One of the best and easiest things you can do to help the environment is STOP BUYING BOTTLED WATER. Two must-haves for anyone trying to help the planet are some sort of water filter and a reusable bottle. Brita is a great brand and works really well. You can buy a pitcher or even one that attaches to your faucet... although I have to say, I prefer the pitcher. I had one that attached to the faucet and I found that it was always in the way. Anyway, pitcher water is probably the cleanest water you're going to get. The United States has laws like the Safe Drinking Water Act that ensure contaminants do not exceed set levels. Public water is sometimes chlorinated, but the Brita filter takes almost all of it out. And well water is even cleaner... no chlorine and it is already pre-filtered by the soil. Bottled water is actually sometimes dirtier than tap water. The FDA (a joke of an administration in my opinion) regulates bottled water and does not share it's findings with the EPA or the public. And chances are, if you buy bottled water, you're wasting your money. According to an NBC report, 25% of bottled water comes from the tap at the processing plant, including big brands like Dasani and Aquafina. If the label says "purified" or "drinking water," it came from a tap. So why would you pay for something you can get for free? If you switched to using a filter, you could save a lot of money. Each filter can make an equivalent of about 300 bottles of water before it needs to be replaced and only costs a couple dollars. It doesn't make sense not to use a filter. 

If you're hesitant about giving up bottled water, just give it a try. Get a filter and reusable bottle and use it once in a while. You'll still have your bottled water, but you won't need to use it so much. Slowly switch to just the filter. Maybe keep a case of bottled water around in case the power goes out or something, but make the filter your primary source. Plus, you can buy cool reusable bottles with nice designs or your favorite color. This is one of the most important things you can do to help the environment, so please, please, please do it. And if you already do, you're awesome.


  1. And I forgot... if you have a refrigerator that has a water dispenser on the door, you don't even need to buy a filter. Just get a reusable bottle.

  2. For anyone who uses a neti pot... I just read this in an article from the blog "No More Dirty Looks." Too lazy to paraphrase right now, so I'm just copying and pasting... basically just make sure you boil your water before using it in a neti pot, even if it's bottled water... that might have bacteria in it too, especially if it's been opened.

    "The Food and Drug Administration last month reported on two cases in Louisiana in which patients contracted infections after using neti pots filled with tap water. The culprit was an amoeba called Naegleria fowleri, which is commonly found in lakes, rivers and hot springs.
    But before you swear off your neti for good, known to help irrigate the nasal passage and proven to reduce pesky allergy symptoms, or freak out about your water, here are two important facts: 1) the amoeba in question is killed by stomach acid, so this isn’t a drinking concern; 2) it’s also killed by boiling, which is what you should do if you use tap water in your neti, as opposed to filtered or distilled."