A couple of days ago one of my students walked into class proudly brandishing his new metal water bottle. Last week we had focused on waste production, harping a bit on single use plastics. Until this week that student had been bringing a single use plastic water bottle to school every day, maybe even more than one. I told him that is a great step, that every little bit counts. And it really does.
On average, the production of a single use plastic water bottle emits 2.19 pounds of carbon dioxide (extrapolated using Gleick and Cooley 2009 and www.carbonfund.org). Imagine that my student has used one single-use bottle every day he has been in high school so far. That’s roughly 674 school days. His choice of using a single use plastic water bottle for all of those days would have resulted in 1,476 pounds of carbon dioxide to have been released into the atmosphere. And that would be for school days only, and during his high school years only. Imagine the lifetime numbers!
Now think about this: roughly 1,000,000 single use plastic bottles are purchased every minute all over the world (The Guardian). That’s 2,190,000 pounds of carbon dioxide just for the bottles purchased in one minute. Humans have developed a terrible addiction to plastic and the climate implications are staggering.
Pile on top of that the fact that most plastics are not recycled. They end up in landfills and the ocean. I could write for DAYS on the effects of plastic on marine ecosystems and human health, so stay tuned for that.
Having your own reusable (preferably ceramic or metal, I like stainless steel) does make a difference and it’s so easy! If you don’t care about environment (which I’m sure is not true if you are taking the time to read this blog) at least think about your health. Harmful compounds leach from plastic into the liquids or foods that they are holding. Even if a bottle says BPA-free, it’s still full of bad stuff. More to come on that later, too.