That innocent looking plastic bottle of water...what is the reality and what can be done?
One way we can all make a big difference, is to focus on eliminating bottled water from our daily lives. Learn the facts and make the right move. Read on...
We’ve all heard that plastic is somewhat ‘problematic’ for the environment (to put it lightly); we’ve seen pictures of littered beaches, blocked waterways and possibly even strangled sea creatures; our feet have been pierced by sharp little plastic bits when walking along sandy beaches and we’ve all spotted plastic littering our streets. In 2018, Greenpeace discovered that plastic waste had even reached the most remote parts of Antarctica.
For a while we may have thought that recycling was our solution to the problem, but, as important as recycling remains, it is far from the be-all and end-all of our plastic conundrum.
In reality, very little of the plastic we put into those recycling bags actually gets recycled, and that recycled plastic can only be recycled once at most twice. Referring specifically to bottles used for water, soft drinks, juices, cleaners etc, which fall under the PET (polyethylene terephthalate) category, only 7.7% is recycled in Europe each year.* The rest ends up in the environment.
And apart from the more common problems we generally associate with plastic waste, such as littered beaches or the ingestion of plastic by sea creatures which we then catch and consume ourselves, there is also this environmental concern: each bottle leaks harmful chemicals into our environment as it decomposes. Studies have shown that the toxins emitted by decomposing bottles of water leach into our environment posing health issues to us humans, including reproductive problems and cancer.
People around the world buy a total of one million plastic bottles per minute. That's almost 1.5 billion plastic bottles per day! And each one of these is set to remain with us for at least 450 years.
MICROPLASTICS - A new fancy term we’ve become uncomfortably familiar with. But really, what are microplastics?
“Plastic is all but indestructible, meaning plastic waste doesn’t biodegrade; rather, it only breaks down into smaller pieces of itself, even down to particles in nanometer scale — one-one thousandth of one-one thousandth of a millimeter. Studies show particles of that size can migrate through the intestinal wall and travel to the lymph nodes and other bodily organs.” – Chris Tyree & Dan Morrison, Authors of 'Invisibles: The plastic inside us'.
Microplastics have now been found in our drinking water. A recent study by OrbMedia analyzed 159 water samples, sourced from both tap water and bottled water in 14 countries, and found that over 80% of all samples contained tiny plastic particles, with an average of 4.34 plastic particles per liter of water.
So, there you have it, plastic, a recent invention which took over the world in just one generation, has now infiltrated our water, food, I’ve even read studies that it is in the air we breathe! But I’m not trying to give anyone a panic attack here (or maybe I am?). What I do hope however, is that all of you reading this realize how severe the problem is.
We are the ones who have created this catastrophe and so long as we continue consuming plastic products, the problem simply continues to grow.
So...What can WE do about it?
One way we can make a BIG difference, is to focus on eliminating bottled water from our daily lives. We use water all the time everyday, it is a necessity of life without which we cannot survive. But do we really need to buy water in a bottle? Surely, there must be other ways of getting hold of good drinking water?
I’ve listed here a few options for you, starting with my favourite and moving down the list to my least favourite:
1) Water filters – this is my favourite option because it is simple, convenient, effective and cost efficient. Look out for more detail about this option on my blog, coming out soon.
2) Pitchers – I find pitchers to be inconvenient because you can only filter a small amount of water at one go.
3) Reverse osmosis system – I initially thought this would be an excellent option, but after realising that for every liter of water it wastes between three and five liters of water, it moved down my list of favourites.
4) Dispensers – this is what I was using recently, and as much as I thought it was a good idea at the beginning, I now realise that I must have been consuming quite a significant amount of microplastics from the water itself, seeing that the water is bottled. And although the bottles are reused, the fact that they need to be delivered to my door, means that I’m contributing to increased carbon emissions, which is not ideal...particularly in trafficky Malta.
My closing message is, with water readily available in our homes, it’s simply a matter of filtering out the chemicals and plastics that don’t do us good. And this way we can eliminate the use of bottled water altogether!
Please do take this first step, and then tell your friends about it. Shout it out on social media, talk to your family, neighbours and friends; let the world know that you care and that it’s about time they started caring too.
In the coming days I will post a detailed review about my favourite water filter. So watch this space for more info!
Image by Paul Bates from Pixabay