A recent experience made me reconsider the convenience of bottled water — forever. I spent the day riding my bike through lush green forests in Northern California far away from the city. For over two hours I pedaled through dense thickets without seeing another person. About halfway through my adventure, I stumbled upon a tucked away pool filled by a 20-foot high waterfall. I yearned for my camera. I wanted to capture the contrasting emerald greens of the leaves, the sapphire water, the slick chocolate-colored rocks and the gloomy thunderheads overtaking the sky.
Not so disposable now, are you?
Yet, as the initial awe began to wear off, I noticed that this pristine wilderness glittered. It sparkled not because of rain or dew left over from the morning’s drizzle, but because of litter. Hundreds of plastic bottles lay half-hidden either in the mud, intertwined with the plants, or floating in the dreamlike pool!
As I started to pick up as many bottles as my arms could hold, I realized that almost all of this litter was one-time use water bottles. I still can’t get the image out of my head!
Plastic water bottles are a global problem
We in the U.S. use 1500 non-reusable water bottles per second. Less than 20% of plastic bottles are actually recycled, even though we have the infrastructure to recycle 100%. Sometimes it’s hard to find a water fountain or a recycling bin. However, I cannot understand how someone could walk or bike for over an hour to a truly breathtaking spot and leave such trash behind!
Maybe there is some hope
San Francisco has a proposal requiring new water fountains to include a special bottle-filling tap. Proponents believe that this is the first step in weaning people off of the habit of grabbing a new bottle of water every time they get thirsty.
This new tap aims to solve problems associated with traditional water fountains, like not being so friendly to reusable water bottles because of their low arc. Also, the fears of germs from the spout (which experts believe are unfounded) have deterred some from using them as well.
What do you think?
Before yesterday, I probably would have agreed with the critics who claim that such taps are not necessary and that such legislation will hinder the growth of local businesses. However, I now believe the status quo is not good enough. Even though my friends and I all are eco-geeks and love using our reusable bottles, and there’s so much attention being paid to water bottle pollution in the press these days, lots of people still choose not to.
Plastic bottles are trashing places miles away from development. So a bottle filler fountain that can signal to the mainstream that this is the new, acceptable way of doing things, seems like a great step in the right direction.
Do you use reusable water bottles? What do you think is the solution to this problem? Do you think the proposal in San Francisco should be approved?