The Plastic Bottle Crisis: How Far Has It Gone, And What Role Do We Play In It All?
In the bid to lead a more eco-friendly life, swapping single-use plastic bottles for reusable water bottles is one of the simplest eco-friendly moves you can adopt immediately. Each year, the UK uses over 13 billion plastic bottles, and yet only 50 percent of those are recycled. In global terms, that adds to the use of a million plastic bottles per minute, and with the production of throwaway plastic surging in recent years, we are now beginning to witness the harmful consequence the issue can have. With our oceans being filled with discarded plastic, and wildlife survival being hampered, the drive to actively reduce our use of plastic bottles has heightened.
The Impact So Far
Did you know that only 31 percent of plastic bottles are normally recycled globally? When it comes to the Earth’s ecological balance and wildlife, plastic bottles are actively fuelling the extinction of valuable marine species every year. Over 700 different species have been affected so far, according to estimates from a publication by National Geographic. For humans, plastic bottles can impede your health, thanks to the presence of microplastics in our bottled beverages. There have also been multiple studies surrounding the link between BPA chemicals found in plastics and the diagnosis of medical conditions such as cancer. The production process for the bottles requires around 17 billion barrels of oil every year, and leads to the depletion of another one of the Earth’s crucial natural and non-renewable resources. It also takes up to three times more water to manufacture the bottles than it takes to fill one. Given that plastic production is set to double in the next 20 years, the earlier the world can get its consumption and disposal under control, the better it will be for our future.
However, plastic bottles weren’t always seen as a crucial source in the world’s growing pollution. There was a time when the world and its consumers happily embraced the use of plastic bottles and containers for their consumption. However, over time, as the harmful effects were highlighted and consumers around the globe realised the importance of actively taking steps to protect and ensure the sustenance of our planet’s future, the mindset has shifted. While there has been movement on the water bottle front, and many consumers and companies are taking steps to introduce plastic-free alternatives, there still remains much that can be done, beginning with widespread education and accepting responsibility.
It Begins With Responsibility
The first step to remedying the issue is accepting the part we all play in this crisis, consumers and companies alike. One plastic bottle can take up to 450 years to completely disintegrate, according to estimates by scientists and experts. Plastic bottle use has been around for centuries, so it certainly will not be a quick fix. However, commitment and group effort can make a huge difference by slowing (or stopping altogether) the build-up of plastic bottles, and then finding a more environmentally friendly way of reusing the waste. On an individual level, it begins with analysing your own trash contents and household consumption for a given week. For companies, it may mean investing a little more in the production and after-sales process to encourage the recycling of bottles or the use of new biodegradable materials in their products. Workplaces can also help in eliminating plastics by changing their office refreshment policies and encouraging employees to bring their own reusable water bottles, or issuing them as a standard employee perk.
With Education Comes The Power To Make Better Choices
We all have a role to play in reducing our use of plastic but in order to do so, we must first educate ourselves on how we can do it. A common mistake that is being noticed is the lack of education, particularly amongst the younger generation. While we can begin by helping consumers realise the benefits of opting for reusable bottles, there is so much more that can be done, specifically when it comes to their habits at home and amongst companies. One good place to start is to look at ways to reduce your waste at home. Begin with adopting and teaching children to support recycling initiatives, or even change their shopping habits to include opting for sustainable packaging. Even small changes in-house such as opting for an in-home water filter instead of bottled water, and encouraging the use of take along coffee or water bottles can be your part of the contribution to the fight against plastic bottles.
Ensuring the survival and preservation of our Earth’s resources should be a concern for everyone. All of our Earth’s resources form a delicate balance in the ecosystem, and the continuous use of plastic can single-handedly disrupt that balance. Therefore it is up to us, the consumers and companies, to take the steps we can to reduce our use, starting with our use of plastic bottles.
By Jess Walters