Wicked Water: The Truth Behind the Bottle
The purpose of this Wicked Water article series has been to educate you, our readers and world-changers, about disposable plastic water bottles and the effect they have on us. We ask that you take this information and use it to make a change in your lives. This can be done with small adjustments to your daily life. With the hope of inspiring you, we will show how all our previous articles fit together into a larger picture.
Debunking the Myths
Alyssa Morin wrote our first article, Debunking the Myths Behind Plastic Water Bottles, for the March 2012 newsletter. In this article, Alyssa introduced the economic implications of bottled water and that the water from may not be as “pure” as we are led to believe. Most important, she showed that it is possible to enact plastic water bottle bans in colleges and universities. Here is a direct excerpt from Alyssa’s article:
”Due mostly to the countless undesirable effects that they have on our fragile environment, a number of colleges and universities across the United States and Canada are looking to ban plastic water bottles. The first college ban in the United States occurred at Washington University in St. Louis in February 2009, while the Canadian University of Winnipeg followed soon after on March 22, 2009. As the United States and Canada are currently the top two users of plastic water bottles we might expect these schools’ journey to banning the bottle to be a long and seemingly impossible one. However, according to an interview with Washington University conducted by ISF’s very own Environment team, this was not the case. Students were generally supportive of the ban, and it is now rare to see them even bringing their own plastic bottles from home. Those opposed to the ban feared it would be an expensive breach of the school’s contract with vending machine companies, but to quote the interview with Washington University: ‘They were not happy, but they were gracious. Our contract with our vendor permitted us to not sell an item so long as we were not using a competitor’s product.’”
Wicked Water: Part One
In Wicked Water: Part One, we showed that there is immense power behind one person: YOU. When evaluating what impact you can have on the environment just take a look at the statistics below to see what affect one person can have.
What is the power of one?
- One American will use an average of 215 bottles of water a year (back2tap.com).
- In one week, Americans will drink enough bottled water that, if stacked, would reach halfway to the moon: 155,400 miles (ewg.org).
- In many parts of the oceans, plastic outweighs plankton in a 6-to-1 ratio (ewg.org). This is because only 15% of water bottles are recycled.
- 17 million barrels of oil are required to produce the bottles of water Americans use; this could power 1,000,000 cars for one year (back2tap.com).
- One plastic bottle requires 1/4 its volume in oil to produce and distribute (back2tap.com).
- 75% of the earth is covered in water, 1% of it is drinkable (Tapped).
- Close to one billion people do not have access to clean drinking water (charitywater.org).
Wicked Water: Part Two
In Wicked Water: Part Two, we investigated the biological and psychological effects of disposable plastic water bottles on people. BPA is a chemical that is found in many plastics and affects the biological core of human beings: our genes. In particular, PET/PETE plastics are used in disposable water bottles, which can leech BPA into our food and drink over time. BPA mimics chemicals in your body called hormones, which affects your DNA through a series of events. Diseases are caused by a variety of different environmental factors and changes in DNA.
Psychologically, humans are creatures of habit and we are more likely to make a habit of actions that are fulfilling. We feel rewarded when we drink water because water is healthy. Companies target this in their advertising and are therefore positively reinforcing wastefulness. Remember that we all influence each other and are ultimately interconnected. If you start a change, it will spread.
How It All Fits Together
Let’s face it, as eco-conscious as we try to be, we cannot always be perfect. Sometimes we have to drink bottled water. So when we do, there are some companies that have acknowledged the additional marketing power behind “going green.”
Coca-Cola, which owns Dasani and SmartWater, has started to engineer some of their plastics with up to 30% of the material coming from sugarcane… a plant. Their goal is to have 100% of their plastic PET bottles come from a plant base by 2020. These bottles will still be 100% recyclable.
Nonetheless it is important to realize that these bottles, while plant based, will still be considered PET plastic. PET plastic contains the chemicals that compete with the natural compounds in your body. This, in conjunction with many other factors, can have negative health affects on the body. Furthermore, Coca-Cola and other bottled water manufacturers practice water-mining. Water-mining negatively impacts local economies and their environments.
You can search for the web for “Sustainability Reports” from the three largest water-bottling companies. However, remember that while the companies say that they have taken measures to be “greener,” their measures alone cannot change reality. Americans are responsible for throwing away around 50 billion plastic bottles every year (back2tap.com). Change starts with you. You are the consumer and you have the power of one.
This is all we ask of you: take this knowledge and run with it.
University of Colorado Denver ‘12
We are continuing to email the “Get Involved” packets for ISF College. In this packet you will find all the tools necessary to begin getting involved. If you are interested in receiving a packet please send an email to ISFCollegeProgram@gmail.com. Please include the school you are attending and what you are studying. If you have sent us an email but have not received a packet please check your Spam folder and if it is not there then send us another email and we will get right on it!
Even though we have a page instead of monthly newsletter, we still need article contributors! These are people just like you who are sharing their passions and raising awareness. Please keep those articles coming! Send your ideas or your article to ISFCollegeProgram@gmail.com.