TOO MANY PLASTIC BOTTLES
Melinda S. Ward, Wastewater Superintendent
Recently, the state has mandated that all #1 and #2 plastics are not allowed in the landfills. This doesn't leave us with many safe options other than reusing or recycling them. This is a better option, though, since plastic takes forever to degrade and can fill up our landfills quickly. When we run out of landfill space, nobody wants a new landfill looking at their backyard for a space to relocate. Yet most people don't think about what they can do to slow down the process. Reusing plastic is a good alternative, but it can only be done so many times before you use up its usefulness. At some point it will all have to be disposed of and this is when recycling becomes your best option. Through many people's trials and errors, new products have been invented from yesterday's milk jugs and water bottles. These products keep waste from making it to the landfill as well as providing useful products that, in many cases, are better than similar products on the market. For instance, treated wood for decks lasts for years, but it tends to bow and eventually rot after years of abuse from rain and freezing temperatures. Also, it takes a lot of chemicals to make wood last as long as it does. Deck boards made from recycled plastic are a little more expensive but they hold up to any type of weather, they don't need painting, staining, or sealing every year to keep them safe, and they will last as long as the life of the deck itself.
While reusing and recycling are great options to consider, reducing is the best option so far. Many products come in plastic jugs that are hard to avoid buying. Water, on the other hand, is readily available and does not have to be in a little plastic bottle just for you to drink it. While growing up, the only bottled water I ever saw sold was gallon jugs of distilled water for household use where minerals from tap water could cause problems. Now there are so many varieties and sizes to choose from where many people have become convinced that this is the only safe way to find clean drinking water. Actually, tap water is the same if not safer than bottled water and can be used to fill special plastic or metal containers which can be reused over and over again. Municipalities have to follow more stringent regulations than bottled water companies to prove that their water is safe to drink, so you can always be assured that what you drink will be safe. Also, in many cases, the source of bottled water is a municipal water treatment plant.
So knowing this, why are so many people still buying tons of bottled water? One argument that I hear often is that the smell of chlorine is too strong coming out of the tap. I agree that it can be, especially if you live near the water filtration plant or one of the water towers. The important thing to remember is that chlorine dissipates in just a few hours. If you fill a jug or pitcher with water and leave it out or refrigerate it over night, you will have the same clean water with no chlorine smell by morning ready to drink. If you don't want to wait or if you go through a lot of water each day, then try the option of a water filter. There are lots of varieties that fit onto your faucet, are available in refrigerators, or are built into pitchers for convenience. These all work great to provide clean tap water without any questionable smells or tastes. They may seem a little pricey at first, but it will pay for itself in no time by reducing the number of bottled waters that you purchase. You can even add flavoring to your water, if that is what you like, without any adverse side effects.
If you look at the costs, it just makes sense to use the tap water that you are already paying for. Most people pay at least $1.00, if not more, for a 16 ounce bottle of water. When they start looking at the cost of keeping them supplied for several days, they may begin to buy larger containers of water that would run at least $1.00/gallon. That still adds up quickly over a short period of time. In Eden, in-city residents pay $2.17 for 1000 gallons or $0.00271 per gallon of water used. The difference should be a wake-up call to anyone complaining of the cost of living while drinking any kind of bottled drink. Any kind of drink in a small plastic bottle will always be more expensive per ounce than a larger bottled drink and water especially will always be more expensive per ounce no matter how you buy it. The point is that you need to think about your purchases a little more and make sure that you are not being lured into unnecessary purchases because of all of the marketing that we are smothered with daily. Many times we opt for convenience without thinking of the consequences down the road. If we plan our days and prepare our drinks ahead of time, we can at least reduce the number of plastic bottles that we purchase at any given time. We will also notice that recycling trips will become less frequent and be less of a hassle because of the reduced amount of wasted products. This is true for many areas of our lives. Instead of complaining about having to do something new, take a moment to find out the reasons behind it and what you have been doing to aid in the problems up to this point. It just brings us back to common sense practices. Do you still use yours???