Excessive Use of Plastic Water Bottles Overwhelming Landfills

With a plethora of sources for water, students mistakenly resort to buying an individual plastic water bottle daily and not recycling it, which has negative effects both on the school and the world. A lack of recycling and a huge increase in plastic water bottle production have been detrimental to the environment.

According to an article published in the San Jose Mercury News (“Finding the right water bottle for your lifestyle”) 1 billion water bottles are discarded in landfills each year, and nearly 30 billion water bottles were sold in 2005, double the number from 2002. Only approximately one in seven of these water bottles were recycled.

There are many ways that one can reduce the pollution and negative effects water bottles have on the environment.

“Students should remember the 3 R’s [Reduce, Reuse and Recycle] to help the environment,” Green Team Vice President sophomore Flora Champenois said.

Simply reducing the amount of plastic water bottles purchased is the first thing one should do to help the environment.

The next best option is to refill and reuse water bottles, provided that there is a clean source of water. Tap water is very drinkable, and one should not shy away from refilling water directly from the sink.

A popular alternative is a Nalgene bottle or other reusable bottles made of materials such as stainless steel, aluminum, polycarbonate and corn-polymers. These bottles can be reused and brought to school daily to save money and benefit the environment.

Buying water bottles on occasion is not problematic and is often necessary. However, if one must buy a bottle, that bottle should be recycled properly. Throwing away bottles adds to landfills; according to statistics from Earth 911, plastic takes over 700 years before it begins to decompose.

“So as consumption increases and landfill space decreases, the impact is drastic,” Flora said. “The water bottles don’t disappear.”

Although plentiful in the quad, recycling bins are scarce by the fields and nonexistent near the tennis courts. Therefore, many plastic bottles are thrown into trash bins instead of being recycled. The school should address this problem to ensure that students have the opportunity to recycle wherever they are on campus.

According to conduct liaison Genaro Quintana, who observes the daily recycling habits of students, most people do whatever is convenient.

If they are near a recycling bin students usually recycle, but should the nearest recycling bin be a distance away, bottles are disposed in the trash or even on the ground.

“We have to change people’s attitudes, and that’s very hard,” Quintana said. “Some people are adamant about [recycling plastic bottles], some people don’t care and they throw it where they want to throw it.”

One should try to avoid purchasing plastic water bottles whenever possible, but if purchasing a bottle is necessary then it should undoubtedly be recycled properly. One does not need to be reckless to enjoy water.