Plastic Free July is a challenge that started in Australia but is now spreading all over the world as we struggle to contain our containers and banish our overwhelming plastic waste. So it’s a great time to pledge against plastic - and what better place to start than with the humble drinking bottle?
Plastic Bottles are choking our environment
The bottle of water. It looks harmless enough. But around the world, an unbelievable one million plastic bottles are sold every single minute, with 480 billion bought in 2016. And in the UK alone we buy 38.5 million bottles each day!
One million plastic bottles are sold every minute worldwide.
Recycling plastic bottles isn’t enough
The really sad part is that four out of ten of these bottles end up being burnt or thrown into landfill rather than recycled. The eight biggest drinks companies don’t use recycled plastic in their bottles because they think it will put us off buying them. So they’re using more oil to create new bottles while plastic particles from the old ones seep into our environment.
What can we do about it?
The solution is simple: carry a refillable water bottle. It’s the best way to avoid plastic bottle waste, it’s free and it’s healthy.
If everyone in the UK carried a refill bottle, we could take out the need for 38.5 million plastic bottles every single day.
Refilling water bottles on the go is easy
Thousands of restaurants and cafes are now signed up to offer people free water refills. Refill, an award-winning campaign to cut plastic waste has developed an app to show the locations of drinking fountains and friendly cafes that are helping to beat the waste of bottled water.
There are 1,600 listed refill stations across the UK, but many more places will refill a bottle if you ask nicely. And of course, your bottle can be filled up anywhere with drinking water taps in kitchens: sports centres and community centres to name but a few.
Tap water is the best option for the environment and your health
The quality of spring water varies depending on the brand and water chemistry at source. And some bottled water, known as mineral water, is just water from a tap that is sold at a premium. Drinking water from a tap is far cheaper of course, and it has to meet extremely high water quality standards. In fact, tap water is more regulated than bottled water and there’s evidence to suggest that expensive mineral waters in plastic bottles aren’t actually better for us: research found plastic pollution in nearly every brand of bottled water.
Meanwhile, other bought options like fizzy drinks and bottled ‘pop’ tend to be full of sugar or artificial sweeteners, so avoiding these products is also a great way to reduce sugar intake and protect your teeth (and bones) from carbonated water. Choosing your refill bottle instead saves you money, cuts out lugging those heavy bottles home from the shops and benefits your health.
Quite simply, all drinking water contains minerals. So buying water from a bottle is no guarantee it is of better quality than tap water - and sometimes it is worse.
Tap water reduces your carbon footprint
Tap water has a much lower carbon footprint as it’s pumped into your home through the network of pipes from local supplies by your local water company. As well as being more efficient way to transport water than individual trucks, the high-pressure systems are increasingly, using renewable energy generation to feed water into our homes. These green kilowatts are generated from sludge combustion and digestion as well as wind and hydro power projects.
In contrast, bottled water is carried on the back of lorries that burn diesel or other fossil fuels that contribute to air pollution as well as climate change. The water often travels long-distances, even from abroad, so the carbon footprint, as well as the cost, is far higher for a product that can be lower quality.
Small habits, big changes
It’s incredible to think that if we all carried a refill bottle, we could take out the need for 38.5 million plastic bottles every single day. What a difference that could make to the planet! Like so many things we need to do, it’s a small and simple habit to get into. But if we all do it, it really could change the world.
So, next time you’re thirsty, reach for your refill instead of your wallet, and let’s start clearing up our plastic mess!