Just for fun I am going to turn this article of information and statistics into a story. Hopefully it makes you smile and hopefully it makes you think.
The Memoir of a Plastic Water Bottle
Wow, it’s been a long life and it’s not over yet. I’ve probably done more traveling in my life than you have. Let’s go back to the beginning though. I’m just a water bottle—one of those things you use once and toss. I really don’t seem too important but if you knew more of my story, maybe you would change your mind. I have a funny goal in telling you my story. I want you to read my story and decide that you don’t like me one bit so you are never going to use me again. Here goes…
Clear back before I ever sat on a shelf waiting for someone to pay money for me, I was manufactured in a plant. The next time you find one of my friends fill him up about a quarter of the way with water. That is about how much oil it took to make me. For the bottled water industry, that adds up to around 17 million barrels of oil every year. It also takes water to make my plastic. They have to purify the water so one gallon of water is wasted for every gallon of pure water they make. That’s a lot of oil and a lot of water. We won’t even mention all the trucks and vans dedicated to transporting us to the stores. I did get taken to a warehouse by one of those trucks. It seemed to take forever before I was loaded into another truck and taken to the store. Finally the day came that someone reached for a bottle of water and wrapped their hand around my neck.
I’m curious if the person who chugged my water down really thought it was pure clean water. I mean, I’ve heard that some companies fill their bottles with tap water and then advertise it as “mountain spring water.” Of course, that does not apply to all the companies, but still… Anyway, that second I became one of 1,500 other water bottles emptied in the same second. That’s right. Every second 1,500 water bottles are consumed and that’s just in the United States. I would do the math to find out how many that is per day, but it makes my cap hurt just to think about it. I also wonder if that thirsty person thought about the chemicals that might have leached from my plastic into that water they just gulped down. Bisphenol A (BPA) and phthalates are two of the fancy sounding things in my plastic and they can come out into food or water especially if it gets hot or really cold. We water bottles get left in hot cars or stuck in a freezer and those chemicals just dissolve right into the water. Some people still say it’s not a big deal, but other studies show that BPA and phthalates are strongly linked to types of cancer, defects in babies, neurological problems, reduced fertility in women, and other developmental or reproduction issues.
Well, now I’m empty and not good for much so let’s see if I get to be part of the 12% of plastic the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) says gets recycled or the 88% that doesn’t. Considering they forgot me on top of their car when they got in to drive away…I don’t think recycling is in my future for now anyway. So away I blow and land in a puddle by the road. To make a long story of being run over and kicked and blown and washed away shorter we’ll just skip to when I ended up floating in the Pacific Ocean, swirling in the currents, and joining the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. If you don’t know what that is, it is millions and millions of tons of plastic and other garbage that have been brought into floating patches by the currents.
The Garbage Patch is where I still reside. (Isn’t that an illustrious place to live?) I have seen several poor animals dead because they thought some nasty piece of garbage was their dinner. Other animals get tangled up in the mess and die that way. Let’s just say I’m not happy to be a water bottle. I don’t know if the estimates of hundreds of years to decompose are correct, but I guess I’ll find out. Maybe my story will help you though to make a change in your own life. Convenience can be nice, but sometimes the cost is just too great.
I remember when I first hated plastic trash was when I was a kid and saw a display in an aquarium of a shark’s stomach. The shark had died from all the trash it had eaten and it was pretty awful to see all the stuff in there. I realize there are many ways to cut back on using plastic and I encourage you to begin to use some of them. In my choice between bad tap water (We’ll talk about tap water in another article.) and bad bottled water, I chose neither. To see what I did choose, get this free E-book for more extremely interesting information. I really do hope this article helps you stop and think before you buy that next bottle of water and I hope that in choosing an alternative you make the best choice.