poptech-chris-jordan-plastic-bottles-allToday is Earth Day. When I was a kid, my 5th grade teacher talked about pollution and it’s impact on our lives. She encouraged us to get involved in picking up trash and recycling. It was the first time I felt any responsibility to take care of the planet. Shortly after that I was enrolled in 4-H and we volunteered on Saturdays to help the community recycle. It was a good feeling, one that stays with me today.

I am not perfect but I am becoming more aware of my own carbon footprint and when I see people disrespecting the planet I get pretty upset. Today was one of those days. There was a major environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. The Deep Horizon oil rig exploded, burned and sank while spewing out crude oil at the rate of up to 800,000 gallons a day. 11 people lost their lives and untold damage will be done to the environment. (here is a 4/29/10 update – spill is not going well)

I have no idea what happened or who was at fault. It was an terrible accident, maybe it could not have been foreseen, maybe no one had control over it. But there are everyday things in our environment that we do have control over. Have you ever noticed the number of plastic bottles that you go through? Have you ever noticed the number of plastic bags that you go through in one day? The combination of the two is  ridiculous? Think about the life cycle of a bottle of water or a plastic bag… sometimes we use a plastic bag for only seconds before throwing it out.  It can take as long 1ooo years for one water bottle to decompose and 500 years for a plastic bag. Think of when you buy a sandwich, many times it is placed in a plastic bag and only carried from the counter to the table to eat. That bag will be around for 5 more generations. Your great, great, great, grandchild will still be able to see that bag.

Here is another thought. There are 7 billion humans alive right now, by 2020 that number will be 8 billion people. The Container Recycling Institute reports that Americans bought an estimated 34.6 billion single-serve plastic water bottles last year. More than 75 percent of those bottles will end up in landfills or incinerators.  That’s 877 bottles wasted every second.

If these trends continue, what will it do to our planet, our water, our food our bodies? Something is wrong, we need to change course right now. I think that it should be uncool to drink water from a plastic bottle. Lets start a movement!

Here are 1o more  ideas that can make a difference.

  • Buy food in glass or metal containers
  • Bring your own thermos or container for water
  • Avoid heating food in plastic containers, or storing fatty foods in plastic wrap
  • Do not give young children plastic teethers or toys
  • Use natural fiber clothing, bedding and furniture
  • Avoid all PVC and Styrene products
  • If the packaging is ridiculous, don’t buy it
  • Bring your own reusable grocery bags
  • Buy in bulk using your own containers
  • Contact the manufacturer about unnecessary packaging.

Link #1 – Garbage Island This is very moving story from some young reporters who take a sailboat into the middle of a plastic island that floats in the pacific ocean.

Link #2  - Altered Oceans – this is a LA Times documentary on the massive impact humans have had on our oceans.

Link #3 – Hawaii Beachs - I can’t believe the timing of this video – the beaches are being filled with plastic

Let me know your thoughts! Please leave a comment below.