I dream I’m the guy who’ll cause a massive reduction in consumer purchase and use of single use plastic bottles (all because of this post, so please share). I am a visual artist, and whether you’re a grade school student, high school student, college student, casual reader, ardent reader, working professional, budding or entrenched activist — no matter who you are, I’d like you to look at the following visual documentary.
Single use plastic bottles represent an unsustainable and ecologically unpardonable practice. What are “single use plastic bottles?” And why are they so hideous?
Single use plastic bottles originate from crude oil (petroleum). It’s typical to envision crude oil coming from Middle Eastern kingdoms. But crude oil is also drilled and spilled in Africa, in places such as the Nigerian delta region; it’s drilled and spilled from ocean floors; now there’s the archaic scramble to surface mine all the Canadian oil sands. Anyway, single use plastic bottles (and all other plastics) come from oil.
After extraction of the crude oil, carbon burning trucks or direct pipelines transport the crude oil to shipping ports. It’s a fact that now half of the world’s oil takes transoceanic journeys to reach oil hungry nations. More carbon is burned so the ports can have electricity. More carbon is burned to get the port workers to their jobs. More carbon is burned as oil tankers make their two week trips across oceans.
Once the oil tankers reach port, more carbon is burned to unload their oil and then transport the crude to the oil refineries. Energy intensive processes such has high temperature heating refines the crude oil. The crude is converted into hundreds of new petrochemical compositions (such as auto fuel). Chemical additives are mixed with certain new compositions to make polymers, which are turned into dried pellets.
More carbon is burned to ship the polymer pellets (which originated from crude oil) to water bottling plants, or soda bottling plants, or juice bottling plants, which operate on carbon-based and nuclear energy resources. The polymer pellets are turned into polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles. Bottles are filled with consumable liquid. And more carbon is burned to ship the filled bottles to retail stores.
The retail stores operate on carbon-based and nuclear energy resources. Employees drive to work in carbon-burning vehicles. Consumers mainly drive to retail stores in carbon-burning vehicle to purchase consumable liquids packaged in single use plastic bottles, either individually or by the case. They then drive away in their carbon-burning vehicles.
And then, after 12-16 ounces of consumable liquid is poured into the body, the plastic bottle is mainly thrown in the trash, where it will ultimately be buried in a landfill, or it is despicably tossed away as ground litter, where it can eventually enter the watershed and add to the growing collection of oceanic plastic pollution.
This is a mindless cultural activity. It wasn’t in place when I was a kid; it is a recent phenomena.
I do not participate in the single use plastic bottle culture. I haven’t purchased or drank from a single use plastic bottle in two years. You’ve just seen how much energy is burned and how much pollution is created so one can drink liquid from a single use plastic bottle. It’s ridiculous. Recycling single use plastic bottles only continues the energy intensive cycle. The solution is to completely quit all participation in this practice. Quitting is easier than you think. Here’s how I did it…
My wife and I each own two stainless steel water bottles, and so does our five year old daughter. They are washed after each use. We maintain 10 one gallon plastic water jugs. We keep them out of sunlight to avoid chemical leaching. We determined that they stay bacteria free since there is no direct plastic-to-mouth contact. We refill them at the grocery store water refill station approximately 8—10 times each before recycling them. We have a water pitcher with a replaceable filter (we have a taste issue with our tap water, but I drink tap water elsewhere). The pitcher fills our coffee maker and supplements our daily water consumption. We do cook with tap water.