Capping off our plastic bottle use

Rachel Kogan, Stacey Kim, Rachel Kogan, and Stacey Kim

Close your eyes.  Imagine standing in a sea of 60 million water bottles spread out as far as your eyes can see.  No grass, no trees, no land.  Although it may seem breathtaking for a moment, sooner rather than later you will realize that you are standing in a pile of discarded plastic.  Sounds gross, right?  Now multiply the 60 million by 365.  That is the number of plastic water bottles that our nation uses every year.

Despite the environmental issues that water bottles cause, Schreiber sells water bottles to students every day.  Each water bottle takes approximately 1000 years to fully decompose on its own and when incinerated, it produces toxic fumes.

Some may say that people can simply recycle all water bottles and problems will be solved.  However, this is not the case.

Only PET water bottles can be recycled and only one fifth of these bottles are sent into the recycling bin. Although the school sells PET water bottles, many of them do not end up in recycling bins.  By selling water bottles, the school is contributing to the degradation of the environment.

“As a board member of the environmental club that funded the hydration station, it is upsetting to see the school sell plastic water bottles—directly countering all of our efforts,” said junior Kim Winter.  “The puropose of the hydration station is  to save plastic. people need to take initiative to reuse and reduce plastic consumption.”

Over the last few years, the price of water bottles in the cafeteria rose from $1.25 to $1.50. Nonetheless, many students purchase the bottles at least once a day.

Thus students not only spend over $25 per month, but also help pollute the planet.  A typical reusable water bottle on the other hand costs no more than $20 and can be used for years.

“Plastic water bottles are extremely wasteful in my opinion,” said junior Paige Torres.  “Although I believe it is acceptable to purchase one every now and then, I believe that a reusable should be used if a student knows he or she will drink water everyday.

Considering our conveniently located hydration station in the lobby, there really is no excuse for buying water with each lunch.

“I look at it from both sides,” said District Director of Guidance Hank Hardy.  “For the environment I think that anytime we can reduce the use of plastic or anything like that, that’s a good thing.  Here’s my question.  If we have the hydration station, how are students who don’t have plastic water bottles able to use it?  So if they come to the school and we don’t have a place for them to purchase water, or a water bottle, how are they going to be able to use the hydration station?”

Both federal and state laws require schools to provide students with clean drinking water.  Although the hydration station is a source of clean water, it is not counted as a being always available.
The best way to save our environment from overwhelming amount of water bottles is on the local level, particularly in our school.  If students or staff members forget or misplace their reusable water bottles, they should not have to spend the day walking around with sandpaper tongues.

However, the answer to this problem does not have to be plastic water bottles.  The school can instead sell reusable bottles or encourage students to utilize the water fountains.

If such policies are put in place, as a community we will contribute less plastic bottles to the landfills.  Although it may be far away, maybe one day we could see the ground in our 60 million-bottle desert.  But only if we start reusing and start now.