It’s time again for Blog Action Day, the annual initiative by Change.org to get bloggers around the world to focus their attention on a single issue. This time around, the focus is on water, a substance so fundamental to human life that the ways to write about it seem limitless.
I encourage you to visit the “Why Water?” page on the Blog Action Day site for a brief but powerful overview of the many ways in which water impacts our lives, but for the sake of keeping things simple and, well, actionable, I’m going to focus here on just one small aspect of water consumption: the plastic bottle.
Here’s a quick factoid on bottled water from the Blog Action Day site:
The US, Mexico and China lead the world in bottled water consumption, with people in the US drinking an average of 200 bottles of water per person each year. Over 17 million barrels of oil are needed to manufacture those water bottles, 86 percent of which will never be recycled.
Wow. This falls in the “we know it can’t be good but we keep doing it anyway” or “we already know what we need to know to change things for the better” camp. At least in the U.S., the tap water supply in the vast majority of places is perfectly safe for everyday consumption. In places were it is not, relatively inexpensive filtering approaches can get rid of whatever contaminants there are. There is simply no reason to keep manufacturing and filling plastic bottles – particularly when the plastic itself may contain harmful substances.
Unless you are living in a part of the world where there simply is no safe water supply other than through bottled water, just stop. Stop buying those plastic bottles of water. Stop distributing them at meetings and conferences. Stop accepting them on airplanes or other places where they are casually handed out. Just stop. It’s a small step that can make a big difference.