The next time you are out for a run,
walk, or bike ride, count the number of plastic bottles you see on the ground.
I have done this and it is mind boggling. The environmental concerns caused by
producing, distributing, and disposing of plastic water bottles is under
scrutiny by various public interest groups. The negative impact of plastic
water bottles on our environment is real and requires action. The production of
these bottles needs to stop because they pose an ongoing threat to the health of
One main reason plastic water
bottles should not be produced is because they create a health risk to the
environment. Plastic water bottles are made of Polyethylene Terephthalate,
which is a petroleum product. We use a large amount of fossil fuel is needed to
make and distribute plastic bottles (Brew). Even though fossil fuel is a major
energy source, environmental issues such as air pollution can occur because of
overuse. According to the journal article “Message in the Bottle,” “the total
estimated energy needed to make, transport, and dispose of one plastic bottle
of water is equivalent to filling the same bottle one-quarter full of oil” (“Message
in a Bottle”). This is a great deal of oil to produce just one nonreusable
water bottle. “It also takes three liters of water to produce a one-liter
plastic bottle of water” (“Message in a Bottle”). In addition to this, it can
take plastic bottles up to five hundred years to decompose, and during the
decomposition process harmful chemicals leach into soil and water (Cho).
Another environmental risk of
plastic water bottles is the impact it has on our animals. According to Renee
Cho from Columbia University Earth Institute, “It is estimated that there is
over 165 million tons of plastic debris floating in the oceans threating the
health and safety marine life” (Cho). Plastic bottle caps are not
currently recyclable, and they often make their way to the ocean floor. Marine
animals often mistake these bottle caps for food and ingest them (Brew). Iain
Brew, from Macquarie University, stated that “A sperm whale was found dead on a
North American beach with a plastic gallon bottle gummed up in its intestine. The
sperm whale also was also full of other plastic bottles and bottle caps” (Brew).
Brew also wrote about a dead albatross found with one-hundred nineteen bottle
caps in its stomach (Brew). Sadly, plastic water bottles and
their caps are a dangerous hazard for many innocent animals.
Many consumers, who use plastic
water bottles on a daily basis, will argue that it would be unfair for companies
to stop manufacturing them. This point of view is valid; however, there are
environmentally friendly ways to replace plastic water bottles such as reusable
BPA free water bottles. This issue can also be addressed by using drinking
glasses or water fountains. This is a small price to pay to outweigh the
negative effects on the environment. Others may argue that discontinuing the
production of plastic water bottles will lead to job losses. This is a valid
concern. Even though this action may lead to job losses, the individuals
effected can find eco-friendly jobs such as working for a solar panel company. We
all want to enjoy our environment and we all need to do our part to live a
sustainable, environmentally friendly lifestyle.
It is evident that the production
of plastic water bottles plays a major role in the health of our environment.
Because plastic water bottles contain petroleum products, a large amount of
fossil fuel is needed to manufacture them which in turn contributes to air
pollution. The length of time it takes for plastic bottles to decompose and the
fact that harmful chemicals are released into the soil and water is alarming.
To add to this dilemma, plastic bottle caps cannot be recycled; they make their
way to the ocean floor where they are consumed by marine animals (Brew). As a
nation, we need to work together proactively utilizing eco-friendly solutions
to preserve the health of our environment.
Brew, Iain. “plastic_bottles_on_campus.” Iain Brew,
Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia., 18 July 2017, www.mq.edu.au/about/about-the-university/strategy-and-initiatives/strategic-initiatives/sustainability/staff-and-students/partnerships-and-engagement/procurement/plastic_bottles_on_campus-38202
“Message in a Bottle.” Natural History,
vol. 117, no. 1, 02, 2008, pp. 61, Biology Database,
Cho, Renee. “What Happens to All That Plastic?” State
of the Planet What Happens to All That Plastic Comments, Columbia University,
31 Jan. 2012, blogs.ei.columbia.edu/2012/01/31/what-happens-to-all-that-plastic/