the TAO of CHANGE

a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC
I kicked the plastic bottle (and other plastics) habit several years ago, both for health reasons and for the planet. The environmental issues of plastic loom large – beyond even my imagination – and include the littering of every part of the ecosystem. Yes, all those drinking bottles can be recycled, but no matter how convenient cities, campuses, parks and/or merchants make it to drop that bottle in a recycling bin, not as many people recycle their plastic bottles as you may think (look in trash bins anywhere). Of course, those that make it into the recycle stream are still a part of a continuing polluting process.

The health implications of plastics come with controversy, but evidence is mounting. Umbra provides a mega-dose of current information about the poison of plastics on Gristmill in her post on Plastics and Kids. You really must visit this link to be fully informed, but here’s the bottom line: “Immediate threats to human health from plastic food containers include phthalate softeners and the resin bisphenol A. Dioxins, which result from the manufacture and disposal of polyvinyl plastic, have been identified as a major long-term threat to the environment and mammal health.” Keep in mind that these toxins are produced and released into our bodies and the environment during not just immediate use, but the manufacturing, recycling and disposal process. Not much chance of escape.

There’s big money in bottled water, but not much else. An article from The NY Times last Sunday quoted Dr. Gina Solomon, a senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, saying, “The rationale for buying bottled water is a fantasy that has a destructive downside.” Although the bottled water industry does a great job selling the illusion of purity, Dr. Solomon goes on to say that there is no reason to believe that bottled water is safer than tap water. One thing is certain, bottled water bites the pocketbook.

Designer water sold in food markets can top $3.00 or more and, according to the Times article, restaurants give bottled water the highest markup of any item on the menu – as much as eight times. To their credit, a few eco-minded California restaurant owners are eliminating (non-sparkling) bottled water in favor of local tap water, served hospitably in reusable carafes. Hopefully, other restaurants will quickly catch on to the idea of “drinking local” and show a commitment to this kind of trend-setting eco-activism.

For alternatives to plastic containers and drinking bottles, check out the links on Umbra’s post or go to Klean Kanteen.

For more on plastics and the environment, check out this recent post on No Impact Man – but don’t say you weren’t warned.

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5 Responses to “”

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