Reducing the amount of single-use plastic, you use every day can be an easy step that has a huge impact on the environment. In 2016, we consumed 400 billion bottles around the globe and only 9% of these headed to recycling, which means around 91% of these bottles ended up in landfills and ultimately into our oceans.
Why are single-use plastic bottles bad for the environment?
As stated above one of the biggest effects on the environment is the disposal of single-use plastic bottles but what are the implications before the bottle is even created? All plastics are created from oil extracted from the ground; this is a gruelling process that has huge environmental impacts. This oil then has to be transformed into a plastic bottle and then packaged with water that is suitable for us to drink. This whole process creates about 2.5 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution per year.
This increase in carbon dioxide along with other greenhouse gasses essentially doesn't allow the earth to cool itself down. This has already caused a huge impact in places such as Antarctica where unimaginable amounts of ice have already melted due to the rising temperatures across the globe. Due to rising temperatures, agriculture, weather, and sea levels are detrimentally affected.
After the production of the single-use plastic bottles, they are sent out to be sold and used across the world, this also increases carbon dioxide emissions as air travel and shipping increase the use of carbon dioxide. After the consumption of the water, these bottles usually end up in landfill which ultimately mean they find themselves within our oceans. This causes a lot of issues for not only marine animals, but it also influences us who consume fish. It is estimated that 1.1 million marine animals are killed per year due to plastic pollution.
Benefits for the environment by switching to a reusable bottle.
If everyone in the world swapped out their single-use plastic bottles for reusable bottles, this would eliminate all single-use bottles ending up in landfills and oceans. We know this isn't possible over night, but making small changes person by person can lead to this. If there was an abrupt pause in the manufacture of single-use plastic bottles this would not only reduce the usage of crude oils, but also the release of carbon dioxide transmissions. The reduction of carbon dioxide emissions would mean we could improve the quality of our air and not only save our futures but also help agriculture to thrive.
If we are getting technical, switching to a reusable bottle can simply be a benefit to the environment where single-use bottles are not. It is essential to act fast with the current rates of climate change and such a small change as using a reusable bottle could be a great way to act now!
Why are single-use plastic bottles bad for you?
As we mentioned above, once the bottles end up in the ocean, they are eaten by fish or decay into microplastics. These microplastics cannot be seen but it is now thought that every marine animal will have ingested microplastics. Scientists have found that although these microplastics are excreted they are also heading into other parts of the fish, including the parts digested by humans. Well, what does this mean for you? Within the UK alone the average person consumes around 152.8g of fish per week and although there isn't much scientific evidence of the effects of ingesting microplastics on a human the fundamentals are, that it can't be very good for the body.
With the increase of global warming, our future on the earth is also unknown. The increase in global temperatures along with poor air quality can increase complications with underlying health issues such as asthma. We have also seen a range of extreme weather and climate cases which always have a risk to human life, if global warming continues at the rate it is, this will only increase the danger to life.
An increase in temperature also allows diseases and viruses to multiply and mutate, this could bring an onslaught of new illnesses to light as well as make existing illnesses more severe.
Not only does the production and afterlife have an effect on us, but the drinking of the water can also have an impact. Toxins that are found in plastic bottles can seep into the water within the bottle. One of the most common chemicals found within the water is Bisphenol A, which is known to influence the hormone oestrogen. Not only are chemicals found within the water, but there are also microplastics, during one test on a leading filtered water brand 10,000 microplastics per litre were found.
Benefits of you using a reusable bottle.
Essentially a lot of the implications listed above could be reduced although it is difficult for these issues to be eradicated immediately. Not only can these issues be reduced, but carrying a reusable bottle has many other benefits for your health. People have often found that they are able to drink more water throughout the day because the bottle is a constant reminder to refill and drink the contents. It will also save you money each year, we are all aware of the current costs and they are only going to rise, is spending extra money on single-use plastic bottles an essential? By switching to a reusable bottle, you are only paying for one bottle and if you aren't a fan of tap water, there are some handy filtration systems that can easily fit into your fridge.
For hot drinks, a plastic reusable bottle isn't always the answer as this can also cause chemicals and toxins to leech into the water, but this is where you need to look for the perfect bottle for your desired beverage. An insulated, aluminium bottle is perfect for cold winter mornings. Not only does it keep your drinks warm for up to 12 hours, but the aluminium material means that there are no harsh chemicals infusing into your drinks.
Let's not forget how good a reusable bottle can look! Today there are some great looking reusable bottles and many of these can be personalised exactly how you like them, although you could be spending more on a higher quality reusable bottle, these can last up to 3 years. Once you consider this, the price is less costly than purchasing single-use bottles once a week.
It is difficult to determine the impact of swapping to a reusable bottle but if everyone made smaller changes in their daily plastic use, it would make a huge difference. Not only could you be helping the environment, but there will also be a positive impact on your health and wellbeing.