by Katherine B. Preston
This Earth Day I had the pleasure of volunteering at a community event designed to raise awareness about living more sustainably and reducing our collective environmental footprint. I serve on the Board of Directors for a local organization, Sustainable Tallahassee, whose mission is to promote environmental stewardship and economic vitality in our community through education and collaboration. At Sustainable Tallahassee, we have many initiatives, but the one we chose to highlight at Saturday’s Earth Day event was plastic pollution – specifically from single use water bottles. We found that a lot of the festival goers with single use bottles justified using them because they recycle the bottles (which is great!) but that doesn’t quite negate the impacts.
Did you know that Americans drink around 50 billion (yes, Billion!) bottles of water each year – and that only around 20-25% of those bottles are recycled (according to National Geographic). That means around 38 billion plastic bottles are sent to a landfill each year in the U.S. alone, and many end up in our waterways and oceans. The environmental impacts don’t stop there, unfortunately. It takes about 17 million barrels of oil each year to manufacture all these bottles (again – U.S. estimates only), and approximately 3 liters of water to produce 16 ounces of bottled water. Let’s not forget about the energy needed to transport all these bottles to retailers and homes, and to refrigerate them, and the impact from groundwater pumping.
If the environmental impacts alone don’t convince you to permanently ditch the bottled water, consider that all of this damage doesn’t come cheap either. On average, bottled water costs thousands of times more than tap water, and is no safer than what comes out of your faucet (unless you live in areas with lead pipe problems of course). I am guilty of grabbing bottle waters at times, and tell myself that since its only once in a while it’s ok (plus I am very forgetful when it comes to reusable mugs and water bottles and have lost so many over the years). After this year’s Earth Day event, I have made a pledge to do much, much better – and bought myself a new stainless steel water bottle since the last one was left on a plane somewhere in Baltimore…
If you spent time in this costume in the Florida heat educating your fellow citizens of the evils of bottled water, you’d make a vow to never use a plastic bottle again too! HMMH would be happy to send you one of our new HMMH stainless steel water bottles, just for reading this – please email us to order yours!