coca cola plastic bottle

The Environmental Impact of Plastic Bottles and Bottled Water

In Green & Ethical Living by eva.katona@yahoo.com5 Comments

This is a collaborative post.

You are advised to take at least eight glasses of water a day. But, how reasonable is that? Well, it is achievable mostly if you have access to clean drinking water: which will mostly happen if you are at home and when you can access the dispenser at your workplace. For folks who cycle for the better part of the day, surf at the beach or do field work this goal may prove to be unachievable.

Look at it this way; your purse will probably have space for a 500-ml reusable water bottle. Once the water depletes, you have the option of refilling it, but you cannot trust the water running from the taps at the park or the beach. Your next better option will be to buy another bottle of water to hydrate. The convenience has since made bottled water a thing. One way or the other, you will end up buying bottled water or coming across one: maybe at a business conference or a hike. Bottled water is almost inevitable today.

The Environmental Impact of Plastic Bottles and Bottled Water

However, it is important to note that the same plastic bottles do have implications for the environment. It is unfortunate that most consumers will never look for the assigned dumping spot to dispose off the containers once they are done. The litter has, therefore, become uncontrollable, ending up in the wrong places.  The production itself also has its set of adverse effects on the earth’s resources, let alone the pollution of the water you consume each passing day.

A few facts about bottles used for bottled water will give you a deeper insight into how serious the business is. First, you need to know that plastic bottles are a product of polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

And now to the most astonishing part – Did you also know that 17 million barrels of oil are used for annual production of bottled water? Well, now you know.

Plastic bottles are responsible for the emission of 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. This shows that the bottled water you use every day means well for your overall well-being, but on the dark side, it goes a long way in destroying the environment.

plastic pollution beach

Effects of plastic on ocean life

Why is plastic a darling to most manufacturers? It must be the fact that it is multipurpose and can be used to produce a wide array of items. The production of plastic is quick and relatively cheap. The durability of the material is also impressive. While all that might sound good for business, it is nothing but trouble to the environment and marine life.

Note that plastic is not bio-degradable. So there is no way it will be used as manure. Something as light as a plastic bag can stick around for as long as 10-15 years. The chemicals that makeup plastic are dangerous and will not respond to the forces of nature to decompose. If anything, they will break down into minute particles which are highly toxic. In case you think that burning them is the solution, you are wrong! They will continue becoming more toxic, and putting the life of Mother Nature in jeopardy.

So what happens when you are done drinking, and you dump the bottle? It will find its way to the bottom of the ocean and stay there for ages. However, not all plastic bottles will sink to the bottom. Some will stay afloat. This is where the problem arises. The plastic will bring death to marine life. How?

seagull

Animals will perceive plastic for food

If seagulls spot pieces of plastic floating, they will mistake them for food. The moment they swallow them, they will choke. Also if the plastic finds away into their bodies, they get poisoned gradually and die.

Some of the plastic could also injure the animals.  A significant population of seagulls have swallowed plastic. An average of 30 pieces of plastic is found in one seagull’s stomach. This shows how much the lives of these animals are threatened by the inappropriate disposal of plastic bottles. It is no longer news that the leading cause of death for Albatross is the consumption of plastic.

Along the way, they will pick plastic bottles and other marine debris floating in the ocean. The adults will end up feeding this plastic to the young ones. Well, while the adults may get lucky as they can disgorge the plastic, the young ones might not be lucky. What happens next? Their stomachs get filled up, taking up space for real food and they end up starving to death.

tortoise turtle

Plastic has invaded all levels of the oceanic food chains

What this means is, that they do not just affect seagulls and albatross. None of the sea animals are safe from ingesting plastic. The entire ocean life is endangered. That speaks for the tiniest of them all, the plankton to the largest whales. You might be surprised when you learn that the Great Pacific plastic garbage patch is actually more than the plankton population. Looks bad, right?

Plastic bottles and wrappers have been found in the stomachs of sharks in different parts of the world. As mentioned earlier, apart from filling up the space meant for actual food which ends in starvation, plastic will break down and poison the animal. See how easy extinction of sharks could be brought about by plastic bottles.

Plastic kills animals slowly and painfully

Sperm whales are dying a slow and painful death. As you may well know, the sperm whale is already an endangered species. There was a body of a sperm whale that was found in Spain. When an autopsy was done, it was found out that the whale had died because its digestive system was blocked by plastic leading to an infection. What does that mean? More of these animals consume plastics and face the risk of eventual death.

According to research, plastic cause deaths of over 100,000 sea turtles and birds annually.  The rate of consumption of plastic continues to rise each passing day. It has become too bad such that plastic is disabling normal organ function like breathing. For instance, straws block the nostrils of these turtles; hence suffocating them to death. Can you imagine the pain that these incredible creatures go through because of us?

Plastic in the food chain reaches humans

You might feel that the impacts of plastic bottles on ocean life cannot really affect you. However, it is essential also to note that human health is somewhat linked to marine life. It is worth noting that 70% of oxygen produced in the atmosphere is created by marine plants. If these are destroyed, then it means the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere declines; therefore leading to deterioration of human health.

It is also important to note that the plastic consumed by marine life will always find its way into the human’s food chain. At the end of the day, you will end up ingesting the plastic. The toxic chemicals will get into your body and gradually harm you.

What can we do about this?

However, all is not lost. Something can still be done about this. The first thing is to reduce the amount of plastic waste by recycling plastic bottles. But here’s the thing. Did you know that only 9 percent of the plastic waste is recycled? This is the route of the pollution problem. If more, if not all, of it, is recycled, then it means not much of it will find its way into the ocean.

coca cola plastic bottle

Instead of carrying a plastic bottle around, why not drink water in your house or office? If you are running some errands, you can stop by a restaurant and request for glass of water. Alternatively, you can purchase a water bottle that is reusable, and that is made of more eco-friendly materials instead of plastic.

As much as policymakers are trying to find ways to mitigate the problem, it will only work if you are actively involved. You have an equally vital role to play in salvaging the marine life. Imagine if everyone ditched the single-use plastic bottles? Well, you might feel that it will not make much difference while it will actually destroy human and animal life at the end of the day. What if everyone stopped using the plastic bottles? That would mean less waste in the oceans, better waste management, and an exciting world for everyone!

Whether in your Turkey business or in your home stop depending too much on plastic bottles is a bad precedence for future generations. Take it upon you to educate your kids on the dangers of using plastic bottles. Educate them on the importance of keeping the environment clean. If you can, participate in local clean-up events. In addition, in case there is a plastic ban in your area, be kind and support it. Save marine life, save human life!

Let’s embrace ethical and green living!

As global citizens, we often feel helpless when it comes to big issues affecting our lives such as ecological damage and global warming. Nevertheless, we can go a long mile in protecting Mother Nature by embracing ethical and green living.

This is basically a lifestyle that considers the impact of our daily activities to the environment, and instils sustainable practices in our lives. It involves rather obvious but meaningful actions such as buying eco-friendly multi-tool blades for everyday use, shopping with reusable grocery bags, taking shorter showers, switching off lights and unplugging electrical appliances that aren’t in use, and recycling products.

Through ethical and green living, everyone can become responsible for preserving our planet and all organisms in it.

 

Comments

  1. The impact is really sad on nature and animals. The fact it is so easy to recycle these items these days as well just amazes me that people throw things away without re-guard. I hope this post makes people stop and think about what they are doing.

  2. It just makes me cross that there are alternatives, but as plastic is so cheap to produce, it’s the go to choice for lots of produce manufacturers…

  3. I have been to a few turtle sanctuaries and it is hard to see the ones that eat jellyfish mistake plastic bags for them and then get sick 🙁 it is really sad and I’ve been upping my recycling and cutting out waste where I can

  4. Re-cycling is really important, and this is an excellent blog post highlighting the major issues and damage that water bottles can create. I personally drink water at home and the office. I prefer tap water really.

  5. It’s horrible to think how much damage plastic is doing to our planet. I know documentaries like Blue Planet have really helped to transform our thinking, but we still have a long way to go.

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