Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Thirsting for plastic.

Water is expensive.

This according to a New York Times column (Aug. 1, 2007) that pointed out if you got your eight glasses a day from bottled water, you could spend $1,400 every year. Compare that with the $0.49 it would cost from plain old tap water.

Consider this: all that plastic costs barrels of oil. All those bottles cost money and CO2 to ship cross-country. Only 23 percent of bottles are recycled, and states like Michigan don't offer a deposit as an incentive.

Recycling Jackson has reported on the thirst (pun intended) for recyclable plastics: companies can't collect enough used plastic bottles, even though the demand is high. Companies are willing to pay decent money for someone's used Aquafina (which is tap water anyway) bottle.

Plastic bags, however, are a totally different story. They're a pain in the ass, according to a Salon.com story about the difficulties of recycling the jelly-fish like bags:

"Every year, Americans throw away some 100 billion plastic bags after they've been used to transport a prescription home from the drugstore or a quart of milk from the grocery store. It's equivalent to dumping nearly 12 million barrels of oil," writes Katharine Mieszkowski.

Only one percent of those are recycled.

Some have said plastic is better than paper, but you can't grow more oil like you can more trees. "The only salient answer to paper or plastic is neither," says the article.

When I attended a Mariner's game during a recent Seattle, WA trip, I noticed that everywhere I looked there were bins for recycling plastic pop, juice, water, and - yes - beer bottles. And when the game was over (they lost to Texas by one point), the announcer even reminded the audience about the recycling bins.

What do Seattle Mariner fans know that we don't?

I'll admit: I'm a fan of bottled water. It tastes good, it's portable, and I can make a health and wellness justification when I bypass the sugared soda pop for a liter of the clear stuff.

But paying $1 or more for a bottle of the same stuff I flush in my toilet seems absurd, doesn't it? This is the same stuff I use to clean my dishes, wash my car, and brush my teeth. And it's still the safest and cleanest in the world. Some parched countries in the Sahara would give a lot for a teaspoon full of what I watch go down the drain every morning.

So recently I've started drinking plain tap water. And you know what? It's not that bad. I add a few drops of lemon juice if I don't like the taste, plop in a few ice cubes, and away I go. I'm not any less satisfied. My thirst is just as quenched, and I didn't contribute any more plastic molecules that will be around longer than the cockroach.

The critique is two-fold, involving both the use and waste of plastics and the mania behind obtaining fresh water from somewhere besides the garden hose. The more you think about it the more ridiculous it seems.

All that craziness has me thirsty. Time to grab a glass of cool, clear...

Well, you know the rest.


Anonymous said...

Buy a Brita and a Nalgene (or Nalgene-like for the thriftier folks) bottle. It gets all the yucky taste out of your water without all the plastic waste.


dave said...

I've tried the Brita thing, but I hated having to replace the filter all the time. My method? A drop of lemon juice. Takes care of any nastiness.

Anonymous said...

I'm rolling my eyes at your laziness.

; )

-A Kizzle