Sending bottled water to the landfill | Plastic-Free Discussion Board

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Sending bottled water to the landfill
November 1, 2009 - 10:49 pm

Today, as usual, I checked a city trash barrel on the local commercial strip as I was on my way to the grocery store. Inside, also not unusual, I found half-filled plastic bottles of water.

Now it’s old news that bottled water sells for more than the price of gasoline. But there’s more waste involved. These bottles with caps on will likely make it all the way to the landfill (no recycling of this stuff in this town) still closed.

That means 1)trucks will have to haul water weighing several times as much as the containers and 2)perfectly good drinking water will be buried for who knows how many many years even as so many in the world lack pure drinking water!

Is this a good rant? I’m really trying. Ok, let me continue…so we have overweight Americans driving oversized vehicles to a big football game requiring high priced admission where they watch oversized males bash into each other, quite probably causing mutual brain damage. These fans spend unthinkingly on bottled water that they don’t have enough thirst to consume completely and then they throw the bottle and water in the trash and drive home in their oversized vehicles without taking what can be recycled back with them. Water…did I mention food as well? Full unopened containers of dip and beans and BBQ chicken wings. Whole aluminum trays of food thrown in the garbage dumpsters near parking lots.

Now suppose you were one of the many skinny people of the world who live in a city slum with open sewage on the street. Someone shows you a video of the behavior just described. What would the reaction be? Might it make a person want to cry?

I make it a habit not to think these thoughts as I collect from the trash. My single thought is – it doesn’t belong here and I know where it should go so I take it from one to the other, often only a matter of a few dozen feet.

Some may think that progress has been made with recycling, and so it has. But there is a long long way to go and we are certainly not even halfway there.

November 2, 2009 - 1:04 am

You wrote Some may think that progress has been made with recycling, and so it has. But there is a long long way to go and we are certainly not even halfway there.

I have to agree. Some states in our lovely country do not yet have recycle programs! I lived in Montana for years and was shocked to learn there is no urban recycling program. I had to separate my garbage and personally take it to the landfill if I wanted to be sure my items were recycled. Now that I live in Western Nevada I have been part of a group that is fighting to have a better recycling program. See, we are one of the windiest cities in America, which means anything left outside on a windy day gets blown away. Now imagine trying to place recyclables in those old fashion milk carton like containers on a blustery day! It just cannot be done, so many here do not even try to recycle. I want a separate closed container for my recyclables so that they do not blow away. I know in a perfect world we would not have anything to recycle, but for now I am fighting for better programs. Oh gosh, did I just rant too? LOL

November 2, 2009 - 5:39 pm

sarijj, I have noticed what you are speaking of when outside of cities. Recently Judy and I went to a nice resort in Wisconsin away from the city in a beautiful natural setting but – no recycling. I guess it’s “natural” when living away from the city to believe that there are infinite resources and so much room that throwing things anywhere or landfilling isn’t a problem. I left a note for the resort telling them that having no recycling program in 2009 was unforgivable.

Beth Terry
409 Posts
November 2, 2009 - 7:13 pm
Beth Terry
409 Posts
November 2, 2009 - 7:13 pm
November 2, 2009 - 7:39 pm

Cliff, I agree all the water bottles going to the landfill is a big, big waste. However, even if they are recycled, this is going to use more energy, and produce more emissions. In general, we should be reducing and reusing instead of recycling. That’s where the bulk of emissions are generated (and resources are wasted.) As you mention, the US (and Canada) is a very wasteful society that consumes far too much. We need to cut this overconsumption way back. In the specific case of plastic water bottles, we just need to ban them, this is a completely unnecessary product.

November 3, 2009 - 7:01 pm

canadaguy, I agree and have been trying to get Illinois to get on board with a bottle bill without success. The idea has been killed each time it is brought up in the state legislature, due to the opposition from grocers and bottlers. Another factor is that plastic recycling from bottles can’t be re-manufactured into new bottles for beverages – the ability to re-use in the same manner is a nice feature of aluminum recycling.

It’s a bit discouraging that in this time of environmental awareness we must hope for laws from the top instead of folks deciding drinking water from plastic bottles makes no sense – particularly since it isn’t a need for most, who have good tap water. I guess it’s like talking on a phone while driving – the evidence is clear of the harm that can be done, but people put what they want to do at the moment first.

November 3, 2009 - 7:09 pm

Well, good luck to you Cliff. I just really hope this is something that gets brought up at Copenhagen. It’s probably the easiet emissions reduction they are going to find. :)

November 7, 2009 - 2:09 am

I was actually just at a football game two weeks ago and was so annoyed by everything you’re saying! first off, bottled water was $5 which is ridiculous in and of itself. beyond that, people would buy multiple bottles despite the fact that there were drinking fountains every 10 ft and then they would throw their bottles in the TRASH! i wanted to scream!!!!!

i get mad at my boyfriend every week bc he does that kinda stuff. part of his condo’s association fee is that they have recycling bins that are picked up every week when the trash bins are picked up. he’s paying all this money for the service, but NEVER uses it. he throws his water bottles, newspapers, cereal boxes, everything in the trash can every single day even though his recycling bin is just next to his garage. it’s also crazy bc the tap water is 100% drinkable in his area – i drink it all the time and fill up my REUSABLE water bottle with it – but he thinks that’s gross. ahhh!

one thing that might interest you, though, is that naked juice just transitioned to a new type of plastic bottle that (assuming there’s more people like you and me who throw bottles in the recycling bin, rather than like my boyfriend who throws them in the trash) can be 100% recycled into 100% recyclable bottles. it’s called a reNEWabottle because unlike current plastic bottles that can only be recycled into other plastic-based products (that are rarely recyclable beyond that point), the plastic used for reNEWabottles can get reused forever. if you wanna know more, I learned about it on facebook bc they’re doing a campaign to spread awareness about the bottle and raise money for Keep America Beautiful. you should check it out – i think it’ll make you smile :)…..inabottle/

November 8, 2009 - 5:24 pm

BareBeliever – I watched the Facebook presentation, wow is it slick and snappy, a graphics delight! But I don’t get what they are doing. I watched the FAQ section too. I was expecting them to say you had to return their bottles to them, but it says they use #1 plastic which is currently recycled…so how do they do that when I thought that turning recycled #1 into drinking bottles again is not allowed? How can they do it when others can’t? Is the no-recycling-to-new-bottles a law or just a recommendation?

By the way, Nick Kristof has just written an op-ed on BPA in plastic in the New York Times that backs up what Beth has been saying.

April 2, 2010 - 6:45 am

Clif, BPA is only in plastic #3 and #7 from what I understand. Naked’s bottle is #1. So actually that should be “safe”. Thanks for all the great info!!

September 3, 2011 - 1:48 pm

I see people picking up bottled water even when there are options with re-usable cups and water jugs right next to them. 

I see two ways of fixing this – one is to continue giving people the option of choosing, but to gently nudge them to the re-usable options by stating benefits.  The other way is to just eliminate the option of bottled water.  Honestly, I don't know which way is the best way…however, I did learn recently that due to student pressure, the University of Toronto is phasing out the sale of bottled water on some of their campuses.  I hope this will be a successful step and will help change people's minds about reaching for the bottled water whenever they are provided an option. 

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