Water On the Go
Americans are hooked on bottled water. In fact, in 2009 alone, Americans consumed 8.45 billion gallons of the beverage. We grab one and go…to the gym, to work, and to school. And why shouldn’t we? Bottled water is oh-so-convenient as well as healthy; our bodies need lots of it every day.
In response to environmental concerns, some of the larger bottled water manufacturers have made strides to reduce the size of their plastic bottles, thereby using fewer resources to manufacture while also producing less waste. Furthermore, plastic water bottles are recyclable and can be easily tossed into your curbside bin or else brought back to the grocery store or recycling center. And if you live in one of the 11 states that has a bottle bill, you can even pocket a nickel for each plastic bottle you do return. In fact, bottle bill or not, Americans are recycling over 2 billion pounds of plastic water bottles every year. This must be good, right?
While any effort to recycle and reduce waste is good, the problem remains that while over 2 billion pounds of plastic bottles are being recycled in the U.S. each year, this number represents a relatively small recycling rate of about 25 percent. This is in contrast to paper recycling, which has a rate of around 50 percent. That means that at least 75 percent of post-consumer plastic bottles are being incinerated or thrown in the trash each year! To add to the not-so-good news, standard water bottles, which are made with PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) materials are said to take about 500 years to biodegrade. Environmental watchdog groups say that we have so much plastic in our landfills that the breaking down process simply can’t keep up. As a result, some of this surplus washes away with the ground water and inevitably ends up in our oceans, threatening precious marine wildlife.
Part of the Solution
There are things we can do to reduce the amount of plastic going into landfills each day, the first of which is to become a responsible consumer. Being mindful of how much plastic waste we create each day is a great first step, along with remembering to recycle consistently. We can set a good example for our children by teaching them how to responsibly dispose of their plastic containers and while making recycling fun. Allow them to collect plastic bottles around the house or out in the community and reward them for doing so.
The second step is to purchase water bottles that are made from biodegradable plastic. For example, ENSO Bottles has created the technology for a biodegradable PET plastic water bottle. ENSO’s “Bottles for a Healthier Earth” can be recycled along with other PET plastics, but are also biodegradable in landfill environments. ENSO’s promising technology, along with some mindful changes on the part of consumers, are both important parts of the solution to plastic bottle pollution, both now and in the future.