Evo Morales once said: “Sooner or later, we will have to recognize that the Earth has rights too, to live without pollution. What mankind must know is that human beings cannot live without Mother Earth, but the planet can live without humans.”
Pollution is defined as the presence in our introduction into the environment of a substance that has harmful or poisonous effects. Single use plastic is definitely a massive problem in regards to pollution of marine life, but I do not believe that banning bottled water would be a constructive method of saving our beautiful planet.
There is a common catchphrase among people who don’t see pollution as a problem that says “the solution to pollution is dilution.” A National Geographic article written in 2010 states “we need to look no further than the New-Jersey dead zone or the thousand-mile-wide swath of decomposing plastic to see that this “dilution” policy has helped place a once flourishing ocean ecosystem on the brink of collapse.” (National Geographic, 2010)
There are many benefits to bottled water. Humans require a certain amount of water every day in order to remain healthy and there are unfortunately a number of obstacles that prevent us from acquiring a sufficient amount of water. It is said that simply carrying a bottle of water around as one does one’s day-to-day activities can promote increased water consumption, resulting in an improved lifestyle of humans. Bottled water also has the option of flavouring and added nutrients, which is a disruption of the monotonous flavor of standard water. This, as well as the addition of much needed nutrients and electrolytes that our bodies are in desperate need of, is also able to promise healthy drinking habits. Although tap water is prepared to be drinkable by careful hands, one runs the risk of one’s tap adding contaminants and impurities to the filtered water, contaminants that bottled water is undoubtedly missing. (The Water Depot, Inc)
Banning bottled water would also remove a healthy beverage option for the communities of South Africa, which would lead to the increase in the consumption of unhealthy carbonated soft drinks and would “remove a practical option for water storage and dissemination during times when municipal tap water supplies are contaminated” (ProCon.org, 2018). This article on the pros and cons of banning bottled water also states that a ban on bottled water is misguided as a pollution control method for the reason that other beverages are sold in containers that are equally, if not more harmful than plastic bottles.
Although I do not believe that bottled water should be banned, there are some undeniable pros to the boycott of water being sold in plastic bottles. About 70% of plastic bottles sold in America are not recycled; therefore banning bottled water would reduce waste and protect the environment. Banning bottled water would reduce financial costs since bottled water can cost between 400 and 2000 times more than tap water. Bottling water can also drain water sources since almost 64% of bottled water is taken from municipal supplies. (ProCon.org, 2018)
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Despite all the good reasons as to why bottled water should be banned, if the human race simply disposed of their plastic in the proper manner, then the ban of water in plastic packaging would not be necessary to save the environment.
B. F. Skinner once said that the environment would continue to deteriorate until pollution practices are abandoned, which is why I believe that the problem at hand is not the plastic itself, but the way the human race is disposing of the plastic. There are many different methods of plastic waste disposal such as landfilling, incineration, recycling and biodegradation. Landfilling is considered “highly wasteful as it requires a vast amount of space and the chemical constituents and energy contained in plastic is lost in this disposal route”. Incineration has a tendency to cause negative effects on the environment and the health of living beings because of the hazardous substances that are released into the atmosphere as a result. Therefore, the most effective methods of plastic waste disposal are Recycling and Biodegradation. (Blog.nus, 2016)
If the people of the human race could stop blaming plastic and start looking for the root of the problem, then perhaps the level of pollution of the earth would not be as high as it is today. Every minute, the equivalent to one garbage truck’s worth of plastic is dumped into our oceans (Earth Day Network, 2018). Approximately eight million metric tons of plastic are propelled into the ocean every year. The reason for this is not the materials we are using, it is the method of which we are disposing these materials
Plastic recycling is “the process of recovering scrap or waste plastic and reprocessing the material into useful products.” When different types of plastic are melted together, they have a tendency to separate their phases (eg. water and oil) and solidify in these layers. These boundaries can cause weaknesses in the structure of the resulting material, which makes the plastic harder to recycle. There is a massive controversy associated with the use of plastic where people are under the impression that plastic is killing the environment because it is not biodegradable, however, the percentage of plastic that can be 100% recycled increases when manufacturers of packaged goods minimize the mixing of materials in their packaging. (Wikipedia)
Recycling has a number of benefits such as creating jobs in the recycling and manufacturing industry; saving energy, reducing greenhouse gas emission; and saving natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals. In the process of recycling, the first step is to find materials that can be recycled, which will not be a problem considering the previously mentioned amount of plastic currently in our oceans. Once the materials are found, the next step is to find a secondary use of the material. Since bottled water has a number of good and productive purposes, we can use the plastic and recycle it into bottles for water. Once the bottle has been used and thrown away, it can be sufficiently cleaned and then used as another water bottle. The third step of the recycling process is to purchase goods manufactured from recycled materials which can be seen on the label of the product (Residential Waste Systems, 2013)
Oceanographer Marcus Eriksen released a paper entitled “Plastic Pollution in the World’s Ocean” for which he and his team of researchers journeyed across all five of the ocean’s major gyres in order to collect samples. They came to the conclusion that there are over five trillion pieces of plastic polluting our oceans. This causes seals, turtles, and seabirds to constantly become trapped in rings of plastic. Creatures such as the albatross are also found frequently feeding on the plastic material that it mistakes for food. (Habbib, 2016)
In conclusion, based on the above information and evidence, I believe that bottled water should not be banned because there are much more important activities we could be performing in order to save our beautiful planet.