Does Drinking Water Have to be Linked to One-Use Plastic?
That the single most fundamental need for our survival on a daily basis has become so linked to one-use plastic is somewhat of a tragedy for our environment. Who would have thought back when we humans drank water from a flowing creek or from a well dug in the back yard or even eventually had running water in our homes that we would then advance to our water consumption and plastic being inexorably linked.
Most of our water now is drunk from plastic bottles or poured from plastic jugs or containers of some kind.
If we get together for a party or a BBQ in our backyards we buy massive amounts of plastic bottles which are then disposed of after a brief afternoon, some of these plastic bottles are so small that we get at most four small gulps.
Several years ago I would think nothing of buying 40 to 50 small bottles of water for large gatherings….birthday parties or my annual Christmas caroling party until I began to wake up and realize that it was a disgusting amount of one use plastic being thrown away, in fact half of the bottles after most parties were still half full of water. I see this at every gathering I attend at friends’ houses and conferences, workshops, pretty much at any large event.
Is it really that hard to reimagine how to quench everyone’s thirst without hundreds of one use plastic bottles?
The next year I improved a bit by buying large plastic jugs of water that my guests could use to fill their plastic cups with a marker to write their name on the cup in the hopes that the one use plastic cup would at least last the entire evening. At the end of the party, still, an unacceptable pile of plastic waste.
My new plan is to have two Brita-like pitchers with filtered water out on the table. They can be easily refilled throughout the evening. I also think that buying a decent supply of reusable glasses at someplace like Big Lots that I can use for parties and just pop in the dishwasher at the end of the evening really isn’t such a stretch. I think if we are to delink our consumption of water from plastic it just takes a little imagination and maybe a little more dishwashing!
The View from the Checkout Line
When I stand in line at the store, I notice the front window is lined with hundreds of flats of plastic bottles of various sizes filled with water sitting awaiting purchase. I imagine the islands of plastic just one store’s wall of bottled water will create floating in the ocean. And then I imagine all the grocery stores with similar piles of plastic bottles just within a one mile radius and it grows and grows and I despair and the problem seems insurmountable.
According to the New York Times, Takeya is one of the best water bottles on the market. It’s flip lid making drinking so easy!
How did we get here?
To fulfill one of the most basic human needs we now make and consume massive amounts of one use non biodegradable plastic. We have polluted the earth and made our running water undrinkable so that now we must pollute even more to buy and drink what we hope is a safer gulp of something we cannot live without. There must be another way.
Let’s start with the easiest change we all can make. We can all buy a reusable water bottle made of stainless steel or glass and carry water with us instead of ever needing to buy a bottle of water on the go. Just carry it everywhere. It is an easy habit to make and many of us have mastered this one. So hooray we are buying fewer bottles of plastic out in the world when we are running around but another problem remains.
Where do we get the water that fills up our water bottle?
I am sad to admit that my solution for most of the past decade was to buy the 2.5 gallon plastic water jugs with the spout and place them in my fridge. I would then toss my large plastic container in my recycling bin in the hopes it would truly become something new but as we are now all learning an enormous amount of what we send off each week in our bins ends up in landfill or worse. Not only was I tossing away an enormous amount of plastic, I loathed carrying those heavy containers to and from my car.
I then researched a water filtration system. I had one a few years ago, but it was the kind that fit over my faucet and did not really work well for my family.
Ideally, investing in a total water filtration system for the entire house is the best way to get away from the water and plastic dependency. It also gets rid of contaminants in the shower and bath water which is an added bonus. Because I rent my home I have never considered it before but for homeowners it may well be the best answer. From the litte research I have done it looks like it can cost anywhere from a few thousand to six thousand dollars. Pricey yes, but if you were to add up all the water purchased over the years in plastic bottles and the peace of mind it might give perhaps it is something to consider.
There are also many faucet filtration systems out there and finding the fit for your particular home and volume of washer usage is just a matter of finding the right fit. The last time I tried the filtration unit on my kitchen faucet was almost eight years ago so I am sure there are many systems that work much better than my failed first attempt.
Happy Mind. Happy Planet: Happy Headlines for Good Living!
In 2017 alone, the U.S. generated 268 million tons of trash. Only about a third of that was recycled or composted.
– The Washington Post
My Current Solution
For now I am just filtering my water through replaceable filters in a large jug in the fridge. I started out with a Brita and it was such a relief to not lug and waste one-use plastic that I decided it was the only solution I had the band width for right now.
I did the research if there was a better filtering water pitcher out there and recently, after reviewing all the ratings on the internet I bought a new water pitcher made by Aquagear. It claims to filter out a lot of contaminants and I did find in a blind taste test with me and my kids, it truly does taste cleaner.
Another Option for Drinking Water at Home
Another avenue of getting water into our homes is of course the water delivery of large glass jugs of water to be used with a dispenser. I had never considered this before because I was fairly certain that I would not be able to lift the five gallon containers up onto the dispenser. I then found out they have bottom loading dispensers which enable you to just kind of roll the water container up and in.
I then looked into having Mountain Spring Water delivered to my house. Apparently it is one of the cleanest waters on the market. The only reason I have not signed on is the pricing. My family goes through so much water that I believe it will end up costing me close to $300 a month. I still haven’t ruled this out as I am now contemplating a kind of hybrid model. If I continue with the Aquagear pitcher for all cooking water and only use the dispenser with Mountain Spring for drinking perhaps the cost will be more reasonable.
We are All in This Together
The real point of the article is not to profess to have the best answer to what is the best way of getting your water without the use of plastic. I think there are many options and the best plan involves research and finding what is most cost effective and convenient for you and your family. I am hoping in writing this to deepen our commitment to finding ways to drink clean safe water without adding to the global crisis of piles of non degradable plastic degrading every ecosystem world wide.
By Lisa Rogers
Lisa Rogers is a psychotherapist in private practice in Los Angeles, specializing in eating disorders and addictions.
With a desire to become as environmentally responsible and as plastic free as possible, Lisa takes us on her journey each month of finding new ways to eliminate single use plastic with sustainable reusable alternatives.
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