It’s Time to Bail the Bottle


Kate Meyers

Even though students are encouraged to recycle their water bottles and cans, since China is no longer accepting plastic from the West, the better option is to start using a mental, reusable bottle to store your water. The plastic is sent to a landfill anyway, so there is no profit when one recycles a used bottle.

Claire Cone, Copy Editor

With the start of the new year coming, it is an appropriate resolution for all of us to simply stop the purchase and use of plastic water bottles, both at home and at school.

According to a National Geographic study, 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic currently contaminate our earth, 8.8 million of which pollute the ocean, substantially contributing to marine animal deaths.
Water bottles make up an unprecedented amount of landfill space. Plastic material takes up to 450 years to decompose, which raises a large problem concerning the health of our environment.

According to State of the Planet Earth Institute, “In 2014, Americans discarded about 33.6 million tons of plastic, but only 9.5 percent of it was recycled and 15 percent was combustive to create electricity or heat.” That means 75.5 percent of plastics will stay buried underground for up to 450 years until they decompose.

As these plastics are made to be recycled, the lack of reuse and proper disposal only exacerbates this issue to the extent of irreversibility. This means our environment will be depleted for future generations. Humans are burning through plastic so quickly that it is endorsing a positive feedback loop of excessive pollution to our environment and essentially destroying our earth.

For the past 25 years, recyclable plastics from around the globe have been shipped to China for sanitizing, recycling and reuse. But there’s too much of it. As of January 1, 2018, China has refused to continue being the “world’s garbage dump,” by placing a ban on the import of plastics from the West.

In California and other states you might think you are recycling your plastic bottle when you get money back at a redemption center, but without a market for that plastic most of it will simply end up in landfills now that China isn’t taking it. The money you get back is just money you already paid when you (or someone else) bought the bottle, it not valuable like aluminum.

Now that many countries no longer have a place to dump their plastic, it is in our best interest to abandon use of these containers whenever possible.

Discontinuing the purchase of plastic bottles is the first step. SJHHS has multiple water stations to refill reusable water bottles. Buying a stainless steel reusable water bottle is one way to ensure that you are not contributing to any plastic waste (reusable plastic water bottles still contribute to plastic found in landfills.)

There is a large collection of floating trash between California and Hawaii. It consists of coastal polluted plastics resulting from humans’ lack of reuse and proper disposal. This patch of floating plastic has only been growing since 1997. According to National Geographic, almost 100,000 marine animals are affected negatively by these plastics, including injuries, suffocation and strangling. The problem has become clearer than our ocean waters: bail the bottle.
SJHHS senior, Virginia Smith, incorporates sustainability into her lifestyle by doing three simple things.

“I like to pick up trash whenever I can just to do my part in helping the environment. I’ve also been recycling plastic bottles and cans since elementary school, and I like to reuse plastics such as Ziploc bags and bottles to get as much use out of them as I can before recycling.”

Smith brings a Hydro Flask to school and uses the water bottle stations to reduce her carbon footprint. She believes recycling is extremely beneficial to our environment as it helps reduce our waste as a community and minimizes plastic production.

Plastic bottles also impose serious health risks. There is a dangerous chemical in most plastic bottles called Bisphenol A (BPA). According to a Harvard study, after just one week of drinking water out of plastic bottles, participants’ BPA levels increased.

BPA is also disruptive to the endocrine system through the thyroid. When plastic fragments are exposed to sunlight, oxygen or the repetition of waves, nano-sized particles seep into soil, water, the air around us and eventually even our bodies. BPA is a carcinogen which has the potential to cause cancer.

Nobody should be indulging anything that harmful to their body!
At the rate in which plastics are being produced and used, it will be hard to control the damage humans have done, which means we have to start now. Reducing plastic waste and promoting a more sustainable lifestyle starts with you. Isn’t it time to bail the bottle?