With our current political situation and the unfortunate disregard to environmental problems and global warming, I’ve become more interested in the small efforts I can do to reduce my personal pollution. As one single person, I don’t always seem to have much of an impact. I encourage U Prep students and faculty alike to “boot the bottle” and replace their plastic water bottles with reusable ones.
On a larger scale, plastic water bottles have extreme environmental effects. The plastic in our water bottles takes over 1,000 years to break down with a process called photo-degradation, in which the plastic product breaks down into microscopic particles. This means that even if a water bottle appears to be breaking down, it’s still actively polluting our water, soil and animals.
The Ocean Conservatory estimates that about 10 percent of all produced plastic ends up in the ocean. As a result, every square mile of the ocean is polluted with over 46,000 pieces of plastic. In addition, the process of creating bottles is just as wasteful. 17 million barrels of oil are used annually in the bottling industry, the equivalent of fueling a million cars for an entire year. It’s also estimated that it takes three liters of water to package one liter of water.
People don’t take into account th effects bottled water can have. Some avoid drinking tap water; however, most evidence points to the conclusion that bottled water is not in fact better than tap… it’s actually worse. Plastic containers can contaminate water over time, especially in warmer temperatures. This is linked to various health problems including reproductive complications and cancer. Furthermore, our Seattle water is tested over 20,000 times a year, so there’s really nothing to worry about. Finally, bottled water costs significantly more than tap water. A UPrep student who buys a water bottle every day is paying 790 times the amount they would if they used tap water, which costs less than 1 cent per gallon.
All of this information might seem overwhelming and frightening, which is my intention because the problem is exactly that. To me, the answer seems clear. Switching to a reusable bottle is cheaper, healthier for you, better for the environment and an easy way to improve this issue. We have an opportunity as a community to make real change. I urge each and every one of you to do your part so that change can become a reality.
By Stella Biehl