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Stop Buying Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles: A Plea

I said whoever still uses single-use plastic water bottles, ya moms a hoe!

It's almost 2020 and no one is kidding around about climate change. The effects of the global temperature rise are easily apparent-- an increase in extreme weather events, rising sea levels, endangered animals-- the list goes on. So WHY, in the name of any surviving life on earth, are you still buying plastic water bottles?

Plastic water bottles are the easiest thing to avoid buying, especially in New York City. Although I can understand those dire moments where it’s hot and you’re just desperate for anything to drink, but other than those few instances, there’s no excuse to use plastic bottles. In my opinion, this is the easiest way to make some sort of effort into mitigating climate change; all you have to do is NOT buy a plastic water bottle! It’s as easy as that. New York City tap water is the champagne of tap water. NYC has some of the cleanest tap water in the world, and the NY Department of Environmental Protection does over 900 tests daily to ensure that the water stays this way. Bringing a reusable water bottle to work or class or wherever you’re going is an incredibly easy way to lower your carbon footprint, and you can refill them basically anywhere in the city (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to Starbucks and had them refill my water bottle for free).

Speaking of carbon footprints, let’s talk about yours. One plastic water bottle has a carbon footprint of about 82.8 grams, or 3 ounces; this means that one plastic water bottle adds 3 ounces of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. Every year in the US alone, 50 billion water bottles are used and thrown away. That adds up to 9 billion pounds of CO2 entering the atmosphere-- per year. That’s a preposterous amount of CO2 just from single-use plastic water bottles in the United States.

You may be thinking, “So what if I buy a plastic water bottle? The problem can only be fixed with government policy and regulation of the institutions producing them.” Yes, governmental and institutional changes are more necessary and effective on a much greater scale than individual efforts, but what you do, say, and buy still matters! In the grand scheme of things whether or not you buy a plastic water bottle admittedly won’t make much of a significant difference, but if you’re thinking that way, why vote? One vote doesn’t make a difference, does it? Collective action and effort help shape institutional and governmental practices and policies.

Ok, now let’s talk about where this so-called “spring water” comes from. Only about 36% percent of bottled water is “spring water” and the rest (64%) is just tap water. I’ll say it again: TAP WATER. Chances are, you’re paying for bottled tap water. According to EcoWatch, one gallon of bottled water costs about $9.50, which is 2,000 times the amount taxpayers pay for municipal tap water. So, these companies are putting tap water, something you likely already have access to, into plastic bottles and selling it to you at a MUCH higher price. Isn't that something? One gallon of tap water is about 3 times more expensive than a gallon of milk and 4 times more expensive than a gallon of gasoline. Now, you might be thinking that you’ll only buy pure spring water brands from now on, but just wait. Many of these spring water companies are sourced out of California and are taking water from parts that are already drought ridden. So, you’re buying water from a place that doesn’t have much water. Quite problematic, eh?

There are no pros to single-use plastic water bottles. Buying them hurts the environment, your wallet, and even marginalized communities. Nestle, among other water bottle companies, wants to privatize and control public water resources. They take public water, make it private, and sell it back to the public for a higher price. How is that just? Often times, companies like Nestle, illegally extract water from aquifers in small communities, jacking up the price of water and polarizing the community.

Although BPA is no longer in most of the plastic used to make plastic water bottles, there are still a plethora of other chemicals that cause humans harm. One study of 17 different types of single-use water bottles found 25,000 different chemicals in bottled water. Among these chemicals were many endocrine disruptors that can have dire effects on human health. The FDA has also recently found samples of bottled water containing mold, benzene, microbes, and arsenic. If you have been choosing to drink from plastic bottles for health or safety reasons, you are actually much better off sticking with tap water.

There is no excuse for you to still be drinking single-use plastic water bottles in 2019. Drinking from a plastic water bottle is basically like saying “fuck you” to the environment. There is no reason for you to not have a reusable water bottle; if you’re that concerned of the quality of your tap water, just buy a Brita. Do yourself, the environment, and the people a favor and STOP BUYING PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES.


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