We all have bad habits. They are little things we know we shouldn’t do, like buying water in plastic bottles. We tell ourselves it’s just this one little bottle, but every one adds up, and plastic water bottles are so ingrained in our society, it’s a hard habit to break. Despite spending an average of a hundred dollars a year on plastic bottles, plastic bottle users prioritize convenience over doing the right thing. Yet it is fairly simple to make the transition away from plastic water bottles, especially when there are compelling reasons why they shouldn’t exist in the first place. These include:
1. It takes the equivalent of one-quarter to one-third of a plastic bottle of oil to produce a single plastic bottle.
2. It isn’t any cleaner or safer. There are fewer health regulations on bottled water than tap water.
3. The cost of buying plastic water bottles is not, and never will be, price comparable to a reusable water bottle. The constant purchase of plastic water bottles adds up over time and can result in the loss of at least $100 out of your wallet a year.
4. Even if you decide to be “environmentally sound” by recycling bottles, most of the time they don’t end up in a recycling facility and instead pollute our waterways or pile up in landfills.
5. The transportation of plastic bottles relies on fossil fuels, which contribute greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and thus to global warming.
Ann Leonard, The creator of the Story of Stuff agrees. Her latest video “The Story of Bottled Water” delves into the water bottle production industry and will certainly give you more reasons to kick the habit.
Are you feeling motivated to stop using plastic water bottles? First step: Buy a reusable water bottle. They’re available almost everywhere, in stores large and small, including college bookstores, and coffee houses. You’ll find them in different sizes, at multiple price points, and in a variety of designs. If you have ever asked yourself, “Where can I fill up my reusable water bottle?” you no longer have to, especially if you are in San Francisco. Currently, there are hydration station/water filling stations at Golden Gate Park, UCSF campus, Academy of Sciences, Marina Green, Berkeley Bowl, Whole Foods in San Francisco and Santa Rosa, and even at the San Francisco Airport (SFO), so you can fill up your bottle on the way to your next destination.
How does this issue connect to the San Francisco Bay? Plastic bottles end up in landfills and are rarely recycled even when we throw them into the recycling bin. According to National Geographic, “The recycling rate for those bottles of water is low; only about 13 percent end up in the recycling stream.” More often, landfill debris gets dumped into waterways directly or ends up in storm drains, which flow into the Bay untreated and unfiltered. Once the bottles arrive in the Bay and ocean, the plastic breaks down into tiny pieces, which marine mammals, birds, and fish mistake for food and ingest. These plastic pieces never biodegrade, they stay around indefinitely; breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces, and continue to pose a threat to both creatures and water quality.
Despite the conveniences of plastic water bottles, the economic, health, and environmental effects outweigh them. If you are a plastic water bottle user, watch the video and seriously consider purchasing a reusable bottle to bring an end to that bad habit.