Make plastic bags and bottles be a thing of the past?

Yes,  this blog normally sticks to cheese, bread, slow food, urban farming, etc., but I have been thinking and reading about something that is worth a post. According to Bottled Water Blues, “Consumers typically buy bottled water under the misconception that it is safer, purer or healthier than tap water. Bottled water companies have spent billions to manipulate consumers into believing that bottled water is safer or healthier than tap water.”

According to the Huffington Post, approximately 40 billion plastic water bottles are thrown away in the United States every year.  Fewer than 20% get recycled.

The more i read, the more it looks like the water bottles we are buying are a waste of money and are terrible for the environment. Watch this NBC video:

How many water bottles and plastic bags do you go through in a day, a week, or a year? Do you know where all of that plastic ends up?

One place appears to be the Great Pacific Garbage Patch which is a massive area, twice the size of Texas, in the Pacfic ocean, between California and Hawaii, that is full of slowly degrading plastics.  According to wikipedia, “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also described as the Eastern Garbage Patch or the Pacific Trash Vortex, is a gyre of marine litter in the central North Pacific Ocean located roughly between 135° to 155°W and 35° to 42°N and estimated to be twice the size of Texas.[1] The patch is characterized by exceptionally high concentrations of suspended plastic and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre.”

Listen to the NPR story on the Garbage Patch here. There’s even a whole website devoted to what we can do to    break down the Pacific garbage patch.

Apparently, our addiction to plastics is getting the best of us. According to to How Stuff Works, “Plastic constitutes 90 percent of all trash floating in the world’s oceans. The United Nations Environment Program estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean hosts 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. In some areas, the amount of plastic outweighs the amount of plankton by a ratio of six to one. Of the more than 200 billion pounds of plastic the world produces each year, about 10 percent ends up in the ocean. Seventy percent of that eventually sinks, damaging life on the ocean floor. The rest floats; much of it ends up in gyres and the massive garbage patches that form there, with some plastic eventually washing up on a distant shore.”

It seems to me that we have been using and disposing of plastics indiscriminately for years and years with no regard for what they are doing to the planet and how they will negatively affect our own health in the long term. It stands to reason, that the biodegradation of all of the plastic water bottles and plastic bags will lead to chemicals polluting the ocean and the earth and ending up back in our own food system.

So, what to do?

1. Stop using and disposing of plastic water bottles! Break the habit and tell others in your life to do the same. Get a filtration system at home and buy an aluminum water bottle to carry with you during the day. It’s important to use aluminum or something stable, like glass, as according to the latest science, plastic water bottles that we re0use may not be healthy. See this msnbc report.

2. Stop using platsic bags! Use re-usable canvas or other type of bags.

I am going to try to lessen my contribution to the 40 billion water bottles that are disposed of in the US each year. Are you?

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4 responses to “Make plastic bags and bottles be a thing of the past?

  1. Re: plastic bags, I know about the problem, but any plastic bags I get, I’m constantly re-using them as lunch bags and then as trash bags. What about using plastic bags for trash bags…what’s the solution there? Do you put your trash in cloth bags? I’ve been curious about this for a while….

    • Trash bags are tough. I don’t have a solution. My only answer is to create as little trash as possible so that you don’t have to use too many bags.

  2. We all know disposable water bottles are wasteful and bad for the environment, yet their production is growing rapidly everywhere. Just 20 years ago the market for plastic water bottles was practically nonexistent, but today we produce billions of these completely unnecessary products. There can be only one sane response, plastic water bottles must be banned!

    http://www.selfdestructivebastards.com/2009/10/water-bottle-manifesto.html

  3. Hi, interesting blog! Please support our campaign to get rid of 13 million plastic bottles every year that are left in Venice by its 20 million annual visitors. See http://www.veniceinfosite.com/?p=426 for details and take 10 seconds to sign our petition and help a good environmental cause!
    Thanks
    David

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