How many plastic bottles do you use and throw away each year? How big does that number get if you consider the actions of your friends, family, and business colleagues? It's a BIG and growing number. The consequences are HUGE.
Molly McPherson, a Girl Scout in my troop, just earned her Gold Award with a project called Saving the World One Bottle at a Time.
According to research by Molly, "Though the world faces many political, economical, and social issues, undoubtedly one of the biggest problems we face today is the decay of the environment. There are now millions of pieces of harmful plastic that destroy the oceans, lakes, and rivers in which they float. Using these disposable plastics might seem easy and convenient, but their effect on the environment and contribution to pollution are too high in costs to justify a continuation of this destructive behavior."
In fact, Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. However, our country's recycling rate for plastic is only 23 percent, which means that 38 billion water bottles — more than $1 billion worth of plastic — are wasted each year. Last year, the average American used 167 disposable water bottles, but only recycled 38. Making bottles to meet America's demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. The energy we waste using bottled water would be enough to power 190,000 homes." Learn more.
The Health Effects
Molly explains, "Not only are plastic water bottles adding to our current pollution epidemic, there are also many health risks that they pose. Whether you recycle a bottle or not, you're still contributing and supporting the production of making plastic bottles. Millions of people use them around the world, but would they use them as much if they knew all the terrible effects they have toward the environment and health?"
Negative Impacts of Using Plastic Water Bottles
- Use energy and resources to produce and recycle plastic bottles.
- Add to pollution of oceans. Plastics that get littered will eventually end up in oceans. Learn about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
- Risk people's health. The throw-away plastic bottle is poison. It has a limited life and then starts leaching harmful chemicals into the water which you drink.
What You Can and Should Do
- BE AWARE. Become aware of the amount of plastics you use. These can be bottles, bags, and other plastics. Stop to think of the consequences.
- EDUCATE AND SPREAD THE WORD. Learn more about the problem. Help others understand and take action.
- REDUCE. Making an effort to not use as much plastic. Reduce the amount of plastics you use. I wash plastic bags and reuse them. Can you?
- RECYCLE. This is better than throwing the bottle in the trash, but it costs time, money, and resources to recycle and may still end up polluting.
- FIND ALTERNATIVES. Own a quality reusable water bottle. Stainless steel, glass, or BPA-free plastic water bottles are the best options. If your business uses or sells plastic water bottles, why not sell or give away reusable water bottles with your company name and logo? That's a way to promote your good name and make a difference.
- USE IT. Take your reusable water bottle with you, including business meetings and school. Usually when I go to a meeting at another business, the first question I'm asked is, "Can we get you some water?" This means they will almost always bring out a plastic water bottle. I say, "No thanks. I have my own."
- REFILL. Be an example Use the water refilling stations that are popping up at airports, schools, malls, and other public places.
"Here is my advice to others. Be passionate. Stay motivated. Thinking positively. You can be the change." Molly McPherson, Gold Award Recipient, Girl Scouts of Colorado. Schedule a presentation.
Theresa Szczurek (www.pursuitofpassionatepurpose.com, www.TMSworld.com, www.RadishSystems.com)
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