Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Plastic Bottles

Yesterday I watched a documentary entitled Tapped. It was fabulous. I appreciated the excellent information, its beautiful photography, sensitive narration, good use of silence with just visuals, and its overall stimulation. I found it very provocative.

What I want for Christmas and all the year is for people to STOP drinking bottled water. There are many valid reasons for changing our behavior. First, the water is acidic, highly oxidizing, and very costly. The cost per gallon exceeds that of gasoline!

In many cases the quality of the water is no better than what comes from the public water supply, which is highly regulated and frequently tested. Bottled water, on the contrary, escapes governmental scrutiny! Citizens assume that because it's bottled and has a fancy name and label that the contents is safe and sanitary. Not necessarily so.

What disgusts me is knowing that several of the largest bottlers (Nestle via Poland Springs, CocaCola, and Pepsi) actually use the public water supply. We citizens are footing the bill and then buying the water from these conglomerates.

As Tapped pointed out, some locales are experiencing major droughts. Yet these companies continue to take water from lakes and springs while the neighborhood must limit its use of water or go without! One such community is Atlanta.

It bothers me to see that the precious resources in Maine are being taken from the community without compensation. The cost of water for Poland Springs, a meager 4 cents per bottle. The profit, about 160%.

And the bottles themselves pose more problems. Do you know how much petroleum goes into their manufacture and distribution? Enough to fuel 10,000 vehicles daily.

Then there's the issue of health. People living close to companies that produce these plastics develop cancer at higher than average rates. Here's another Love Canal happening in Corpus Christy, TX. These families are experiencing devastation both health-wise and financially.

Those of use who drink from these bottles also risk exposure to carcinogens. It turns out that polycarbonate also leaches chemicals just like PET plastic.

Finally our environment cannot handle the mountains, no acres of plastic bottles that are clogging streams, rivers, even the ocean. There is a place in the Pacific twice the size of Texas that consists of tons of plastic bottles. There is a beach where instead of sand, these is a mixture of plastic particles. Landfills are overflowing with plastic waste.

Sadly, less than 30% of plastic bottles are recycled in the US. Europe has a higher rate. Where the 13 states have passed legislation requiring deposits on plastic bottles (mainly soda), recycling increases to more than 50%. In Michigan, the only state to put a 10 cent deposit, the rate is 95%. However, most states exempt water bottles from this law!

The industry pretends that the solution is curbside recycling, but less than one in four of us in the US have such access. Thus we toss them away randomly and most wind up in the waterways. It takes over 1000 years for them to degrade. In the meantime, the fish eating the plastic pieces are getting sick and die. We who eat such fish also risk these plastics accumulating in our bodies.

Can you see the disaster brewing? It's here. Please stop buying bottled water (soda too). Let's be mindful of our legacy to the next generation as well as protecting the health and environment right now.

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