The rise in the use of plastics over the last 50 years has created an enduring ecological problem in the form of plastic waste collecting in our rivers, streams, and oceans, and leaking toxins into the water we consume. For both health and environmental reasons, many conscientious consumers have looked for ways to reduce their plastic consumption. From recycling to using paper bags instead of plastic, people have started to take on the responsibility of reducing their contribution to the plastic problem. And many have added another great way of reducing their plastic use – ditching the single-use plastic bottle for good and replacing it with a reusable water bottle.
Switching to reusable water bottles is a great way to do your part to help limit the plastic pollution crisis, especially if you are in the habit of carrying beverages with you. The temptation to use a plastic bottle, or to purchase a drink in a plastic container can be hard – they are seductively convenient! But once you know just how much making the switch matters, it might become easier. Let’s take a greater look at the impact of plastic water bottles.
1. Requires Less Oil To Produce
When it comes to plastic water bottles, much of the dependency on environmental resources is in the production stage.
According to Hydration Anywhere, over 17 million barrels of oil is used to create more than 50 million plastic water bottles per year in the United States. If used for another purpose, that amount of oil could fuel 1.3 million cars for an entire year or power 190,000 homes.
Far from being insignificant, the amount of oil being used just to make plastic water bottles is enough to second-guess yourself the next time you reach for a single-use bottle out of convenience.
2. Releases Less Carbon Dioxide into the Atmosphere
Ok, so maybe you’re not convinced that using up oil is a big deal because Elon Musk is creating fully electric cars and soon that’ll be the norm. But not only is the production of plastic water bottles using up valuable resources, but it also causes some pretty harmful emissions, too.
Biofriendly Planet reported that the creation of single-use plastic bottles releases 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. But first, let’s have a quick science lesson to jog your memory about why carbon emissions are a bad thing for the environment.
Carbon dioxide is considered a greenhouse gas because it operates as a greenhouse. It traps heat close to Earth’s surface and without it, as NASA explains, the oceans would actually be frozen. So that’s good.
But an extreme amount of carbon dioxide being expelled into the atmosphere means we’re heating up the planet too quickly and by choosing a reusable water bottle, you’ll be helping slow down that process.
3. Less Likely to End Up in a Landfill
While you may toss your reusable water bottle eventually - since nothing lasts forever - your far more likely to see plastic bottles piling up in a landfill. Each taking hundreds of years to decompose, in the United States, 38 billion water bottles end up in landfills each year.
4. Protects Water and Marine Life
It’s also beneficial for water itself that you use a reusable water bottle. Ban the Bottle states that it actually takes more water to produce a plastic bottle than the amount put in that bottle for drinking, which is just downright bizarre.
And did you know that most bottled water comes from places with limited water supplies, to begin with? Nestle actually created a water shortage in Pakistan. What’s more is that so much of this plastic ends up polluting the oceans, killing what Biofriendly Planet estimates as 1.1 million marine creatures annually.
5. Recycling Rates
According to the Ban the Bottle campaign, Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. However, the U.S.’s recycling rate for plastic is only 23%, which means 38 billion water bottles – more than $1 billion worth of plastic – are wasted each year. We’re up to a 22% diversion rate here at CWRU. Are you recycling your water bottle on campus?
6. Your Health
In addition to being costly and not often recycled, plastic water bottles can contain Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that may be or linked to breast cancer and may be an endocrine disruptor. Switching to a BPA-free reusable bottle won’t only be good for the environment, but for you too! We like glass and stainless steel options the most ourselves.