How many of you out there drink bottled water? Almost everyone these days. Many of us recycle those bottles. You do recycle, don’t you?
Today, we are creating 2 million water and beverages bottles every 15 minutes. We estimate for 2009 there were over 72 billion plastic bottles used in the US alone.
Have you ever thought what happens to those water bottles once we are through with them? Well some of them get recycled. Almost 9%. What happens to the other 91%? Many of those wind up buried in landfills where they will remain for a couple of billion years give or take.
A fraction gets discarded. These bottles wind up sitting in fields, the sides of the roads, and many get washed into lakes and rivers.
Some of the bottles you send for recycling or disposal get dropped on the way, some of the bottles get misplaced, and some just plain get tossed out the window of a car.
Remember we are just talking about the US here. What about other countries? We recently took a trip to Egypt and climbed Mt. Sinai. I was shocked to find that the mountain was covered with empty plastic bottles everywhere. The tourist litter the mountain and the people there do not have a way to dispose of them. It was really sad.
The bottles then slowly find their way down sewers to streams and rivers along with tons of other plastic trash and ending up in the oceans.
These plastic bottles are entering the environment at an alarming rate, causing all kinds of havoc with our oceans. And we thought it was just the oil.
Since the plastic bottles and bits of plastic float, and do not sink to the bottom of the ocean, they remain in the water indefinitely. They float and slowly break down into very small pieces. These pieces concentrate in the oceans, through the actions of the normal currents. They collect in the Pacific Ocean in a guyer.
You may ask yourself, why does this matter? It’s just some plastic floating in the ocean. What it is doing is displacing the plankton in the water. Plankton are tiny plants and animals that form the basis of the food chain in our oceans.
There is six times more plastic in these areas than the plankton. These little pieces of plastic are being eaten by the next little creatures, which then become starved for food and expire.
Sea birds are picking up plastic as it mimics their food, and gets stuck in their digestive tract and they die. Larger animals are finding it harder and harder to get nourishment. Studies on plankton eating sea mammals are now just coming out, and massive impacts to plankton eating whales have just been reported.
We expect a crash in the fisheries from not just over fishing but also from the replacement of the food chain with bits of plastic.
I hope this information at least has you think twice the next time you grab that bottled beverage. Please recycle if you do use one and please consider drinking from a reusable container.