Could you live in a future without bottled water? In Concord, Mass., 82-year-old Jean Hill hopes so. Her campaign against what many see as an environmental evil has moved the town to vote for an outright ban, as the New York Times covers today.
Mrs. Hill, a rabble-rouser since she took her demands for paid vacation to a union office while sewing parachutes during World War II, was inspired to act after hearing of the massive floating island of trash in the Pacific, thought to be twice the size of Texas. Pairing that knowledge with the fact that only around 13% of the millions of plastic bottles sold are actually recycled (according to the NRDC), Mrs. Hill took to the streets.
While the measure recently passed a town hall vote, enforcement may be tricky; an organization representing the industry is threatening to sue, citing interstate commerce laws. Something tells me Mrs. Hill won't be scared away by a lawsuit.
Perhaps instead of sticking her nose into other people's lives and telling them what containers they can and can't use, she should use her research to effect the laws in more useful ways.
For instance, her research showed only 13% of bottles get recycled, perhaps she should look into increasing that percentage. For example, when I walk down the street, i see plenty of garbage cans, but no place to deposit recyclable items. If I have a bottle to discard, I can either carry it for an hour, something I am not going to do, or throw it away with the rest of the trash.
Same goes for most public places, malls, resturants, gas stations, almost no where around my town has recycling cans. My employer has recycling, but only a few bins located far from where most employees work.
And even my local garbage pickup makes things difficult. We have curbside recyling pickup here, but only for glass and aluminum. On top of that, there is no visibility on where the money made from curbside recycling goes. I'm sure that money goes somewhere. Perhaps some visibility, or even some more tangible benefits of recycling is needed. Perhaps an income tax credit, based on how much is collected from curbside recycling divided out amongst all residents, would be a good idea. Its a tangible benefit of recycling, cold hard cash, and that speaks to just about everyone.
Perhaps a law requiring easier access to recyling would be a better idea. Make sure there are clearly marked recycling bins on the street. Make business have recycling bins available to the general public. Make sure curbside recycling includes plastic bottles. A law like this would be much more enforcable and encounte rmuch less opposition than what she is promoting. To me, it seems like shes taking the hard road for the attention instead of the smart road for the intended effect.
The problem with bottled water is that, in the US, it is completely unnecessary and wasteful. All the tap water here is potable and if someone is worried about chlorine or chemicals they can get a filter that goes on the spigot. There is absolutely no need for bottled water in America. Get a nalgene or a sigg bottle if you need a water bottle.
I read your first sentence and was ready to write off your whole post, but after reading it all I'm going to agree.
Although I think there are tangible benefits in jobs created for pickup and the actual recycling, as well as the environmental benefits, it's hard to argue with a lack of receptacles. While we'd like to think someone will hold onto their recyclable trash until they find one, that's unrealistic and should just be accepted.
I was just in New Orleans and they had trash cans twice every block, and the streets were cleaner than a lot of cities I've seen. If they added recycling cans next to them (with smaller tops to make it obvious they were made for cans/bottles) I think we'd see a good increase in recycling percentages.
"massive floating island of trash in the Pacific, thought to be twice the size of Texas" makes it sound like there is a new continent of trash out there and misrepresents the Pacific Garbage Patch. It is more like a region with high densities of man-made materials floating around in the soup, sometimes clumped together, but mostly bits and pieces. It needs to be addressed, but a "floating island" is inaccurate, and trivializes the complexities of cleanup. See:
Sorry for the double post, just wanted to clarify I was responding to lcpltom.
Also, I agree Bioboy but I think/hope most of the bottled water isn't used in the home, rather when people are out and about or at work. If your work doesn't have a water fountain near you, you'll need to bring a bottle of water and it's easier to just toss it at the end of the day instead of remembering to bring it back and forth every day.
The solution to all these things that are legislatively nickeled and dimed to death isn't more useless laws. As IcpItom above pointed out, make it easier and people will come.
If you're a young engineering student and want to save the world from various stuff. Invent this, a one stream recycling that automatically breaks up, sorts, moves to storage all kinds of things from plastic, paper, food waste, metals etc. All from the singular trash stream. We have trash pickups everywhere, make it easy and people will automatically recycle without thinking about it and you shall become rich.
Rich from the invention and rich from all the valuable resources you pull out. A lot of the tech is already there, ultraviolet and visual sorting automatic production lines. Just stick it together in a new way to recycle.
That's how it should work, see an opportunity and grab it, not try to force people to obey your mandate. Use it as an opportunity, it works so much better than continuous short sighted social engineering by law attempts.
Banning bottled water? Do people not realize this is America?? Was she born in commie England or something? No, we shouldn't BAN anything... loser. If you want to educate people and make it simple to recycle, that great. But no more of the Democrat strong arm of control FORCING crap upon us. I'm sick of it!
Very good idea and well stated Mycellium. I'm sure people have thought about ideas like that, and the problem that arises in my head is trash getting stuck together, or food soiled recyclables.
I don't like that you can't recycle a pizza box because it has grease on it, but I don't know how much grease is too much or too little. I'm afraid if I put it in with the other paper recycling that it will make it all unfit, but don't want to waste it by not at all. But I digress..
I know the Atlanta Airport has single trash cans that say "You trash it, we sort it." Don't know how it works but apparently it's everything in there, and they are able to extract the recyclable materials. I wonder how efficient it is?
The problem with recycling is that it just is not profitable. The only item you can recycle that outweighs the cost it takes to recycle is Aluminum cans.
What needs to happen is someone needs to come up with a plan to make the whole process cheaper and lure in some business.
@Cyph I don't think waste management in the form of landfills is profitable either, but it's necessary. Not everything can be an economic venture.
Even in a land where we have tap water, it doesn't mean its always clean to drink. Water main breaks can introduce all kinds of ick into the water supply, or even where I live, frozen pipes in the winter are a real possibility. We keep the larger jugs of water on hand just in case.
But I won't even touch water fountains. When I was in high school many years ago, my school had an outbreak of meningitis. No one died but a number of students had to be hospitalized. The cause was a contaminated water fountain right outside the band room (non-coincidently all the students who got sick were in the band). And you never know if the guy who used the fountain before you washed his hands the last time he was in the restroom.
Not that bottled water is 100% safe either, but given the choices I would feel safer drinking bottled water than I would from a fountain.
Well. Take a similar situation in Germany. They do recycle every single bottle, with a couple of exceptions. They have a 25 cent fee on every sold bottle, either plastic or glass, which is paid by the customer on purchase (and it is a great incentive to bring the bottles back). Every grocery store has special machines that would accept both glass and plastic bottles, giving you credit that you can either cash or use in store. And for the few exceptions of non-recyclable plastic bottles, there are containers for plastics every couple of hundred yards.
However, there is this funny issue of disposing of the bottles. They take the crushed bottles and ship them to China, where God alone knows what happens to them. They say they recycle them, but who knows? It's certainly not feasible to recycle them in Germany because of the costs associated with it.
Now, would it be that hard to implement a similar system in the US? It would give you the freedom to do what you want. When you throw the bottle away, you just paid 25 cents as a "clean-up" fee; don't want to pay the fee, just bring the bottles with you next time you go shopping. Would that be REALLY that complicated?
On the other hand, I can already picture all the lazy people screaming "OMG, our freedom is at stake here!" And yes, people are lazy by default.
I fully agree with lcpltom. There are much more productive ways to solve this problem. And if its not plastic bottles lord knows it will be something else.
Why not just wait for the oil to run out and then there wont be any plastic ... problem solved
"It's certainly not feasible to recycle them in Germany because of the costs associated with it."
Strange statement. Do they use a more expensive kind of energy in Germany? Does the recycling process involve many higly paid Germans? I mean, what step makes recycling in Germany more expensive than in China? What about the shipping cost alone?