Plastic is everywhere. It is an everyday part of our lives, embedded in our society to such an extreme that at first glance we may feel as if society could not go on without it. It carries our groceries, packages our beverages, foods, and supplies. It carries gasoline to our lawn mowers, and in some cases is even the lawn itself. It is the soles of our shoes, the lenses in reading glasses, and is the keyboard with which I am typing. It is also poisoning us, our children, and our eco-system.
If you have ever taken a drink from a bottle of water that you purchased and left in your car overnight, then you have an idea of what I am writing about, as it tastes strongly of plastic. This is a result of the plastic leaching into the water, and is harmful to your health. Plastic water bottles and soda bottles are made of a type of plastic called polyethylene terephthalate, or PET’s. These plastic materials are made during the oil refining process and are harmful to life in every stage from production to consumption, which makes the bottles that your favorite 20 ounce soda comes in less healthy for you than the soda itself.
Not only are these plastics poisoning us directly by leaching, they also get introduced into our environment, where they take thousands of years to break down, and as they do they leave a toxic trail in their wake. Pollution in the form of plastic bottles, most notably water bottles as they are not included in most bottle container legislation, makes its way to oceans where they wind up being ingested by marine life, as well as in granules on our beaches. There have been discoveries recently of garbage patches full of plastics and enormous in size in all of our oceans, and there are no signs of things getting better.
We as consumers can vote with our dollars. Do not buy bottled waiter. Drink tap water, as 40% of bottled water is in fact nothing more than filtered tap water. Buy glass bottles whenever possible, and purchase reusable bags from your local supermarket to keep plastic use to a minimum. Recycle everything. As New Yorkers, we have legislation in place that allows us to recycle water bottles as well as soft drinks. Walmart is leading the way as a retailer by not selling products packaged with PET’s. As consumers, we must stop the demand for these toxic products, and as such supply will disappear. Change is difficult, but the price for inaction will be far higher. One person and one dollar at a time we CAN make a difference.