Earth Day – Part II – Thinking Outside the Bottle

By Sister Dolores Glick, MHSH

Last week in this space, we talked about Earth Day—April 22—and asked the question, “What will you do to help save our earth?” A first reaction to this question might be, “Aside from recycling, there’s not much an individual can do.”

Actually, there are many things we can do and one of them is to start “thinking outside the bottle.”

Americans buy more bottled water than any other nation in the world, adding 29 billion water bottles each year to the worldwide problem. Here are some facts about bottled water that should help you decide to take the “think outside the bottle” pledge.

In the central North Pacific Ocean there is a phenomenon known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an estimated accumulation of 7 million tons of plastic bottles that have been trapped by the currents of the ocean.  The Patch is larger than the state of Texas.  The bottles eventually break down into smaller pieces of plastic and are eaten by small fish, which are in turn eaten by larger fish that become the fish we buy in the market.

  • 40 percent of bottled water is really just repackaged tap water
  • Producing the bottles for American consumption requires the equivalent of more than 17 million barrels of oil, not including the energy for transportation. That’s enough oil to keep a million cars going for twelve months.
  • Bottling water produced more than 2.5 tons of carbon dioxide.
  • It takes three liters of source water to produce 1 liter of bottled water.
  • It takes two minutes to drink a bottle of water; it takes thousands of years for that piece of plastic garbage to decompose
  • In the central North Pacific Ocean there is a phenomenon known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, an estimated accumulation of 7 million tons of plastic bottles that have been trapped by the currents of the ocean.  The Patch is larger than the state of Texas.  The bottles eventually break down into smaller pieces of plastic and are eaten by small fish, which are in turn eaten by larger fish that become the fish we buy in the market.
  • Reusing plastic bottles is not an answer because the quality of the water is compromised by chemicals (phthalates) that leach into the water as the bottle gets older.
  • The bottled water industry has changed the way we think about water and has undermined our confidence in the public water system.  Most of the plants are never inspected to see if they are following safe procedures.

Remember, water is a human right and not a commodity to be bought and sold for profit.  Solutions to ensuring water as a fundamental human right require people acting together and standing up for public water systems.

Why are you still using bottled water?

“Humankind has not woven the web of life.  We are but one thread within it.  Whatever we do to the web, we do it ourselves.  All things are bound together.  All things connect.”
                                                                                                –Chief Seattle, 1855

For more information on water, go to: www.allaboutwater.org

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