The ocean is our playground. We sail on it, we swim in it, we fish from it and without it we don't have 60-80% of the world's oxygen........So why do we abuse it?
The reason we abuse it is because most of us don't even realise we are. Covering 70% of the planet, our oceans seem to cope with everything we throw at it, right? Well think again.
So let's go back to the beginning. When we were kids at school we were all taught to clean up all the trash in our playground. So why did we change as we grew older. For many of us sailors, the ocean is our new playground, yet we throw our trash in it all the time, not directly, but we certainly contribute.
Let's pick two items that are incredibly numerous in our oceans and cause great issues for creatures living in the ocean and the ocean itself, let alone creating health risks to us.
PLASTIC BAGS & PLASTIC WATER BOTTLES
What do these items have in common? They have both been created for 'CONVENIENCE'
The world now consumes 200 billion litres of bottled water every year. The majority of this is in plastic bottles. You can pretty much equate each litre into 1 bottle. So that makes 200 billion water bottles that we need to dispose of or recycle every year.
count straight through from 1 to 1,000,000 will take you 11 days and it
will take 32 years to count to 1 billion. You cannot count to 1
trillion in your lifetime. In grains of rice, to get 1 million grains
you need 25 litres (6.5 gallons). For 1 billion you need 25,000 litres
of rice (6,500 gallons).
How did we get to drinking this much water out of bottles when we have perfectly good water out of the taps? Well you can blame the big soda drink manufacturers. Back in the 80's they realised that we can only drink so much soda. In order to keep growing they needed to create a new market. They decided to bottle water. They then went on a campaign to sell us, saying that bottled water is way better for us than water out of the tap. We fell for it and today it is a multi billion dollar market. We now ship water from Fiji to Italy, Italy to USA and Paris to Australia!
So is it better for us or not? Well 40% of bottled water is actually filtered tap water. Some are known to be better, some worse. No matter what water brand you buy though, there is one key that should give us the answer. It is called a 'Used by date'. Water does not go off in rivers and lakes or in our taps so why does it have a used by date? It is because plastic water bottles contain toxins that leach into the water, contaminating it and also affecting the taste. It's that plastic taste you get occasionally. It's actually killing you slowly. What are these toxins? The big one is Bisphenol A (BPA). There are more and more studies these days on this toxin and it has been proven to cause breast cancer, ADHD, autism and the list continues to grow. To put it bluntly, toxins in plastic consumed during pregnancy is a major issue. Heating kids drinks and food in plastic just adds to the issue.
So it's not healthy for us so how do they get away with it. It is all in the name of convenience. We are too lazy to take our own bottle and refill it. Tonight I saw the most crazy advert on TV. Coca Cola's brand of water here in Australia 'Mount Franklin' is promoting that their water is in bottles that are made of just 30% of the plastic of other brands and that they crush down really easily. Initially I thought that at least it is less plastic but then I thought about it. They use less plastic which costs them less. Win to Coca Cola. Oh and you can't reuse it as it crushes too easy so you have to buy another bottle. Win to Coca Cola.
Around the world only 30% of plastic is recycled so that means 66.6 billion of these bottles will go into landfill or worse still, into the oceans. The caps on water bottles are still not recyclable so that means 200 billion bottle caps in our world that won't break down, they'll last forever.
So as a sailor, what can you do? Simple, buy S/S water bottles and refill them. If you want to buy water, buy it in large containers or filter it from the tap at home. S/S bottles may cost a bit but the savings you will make in not buying water will pay for this bottle countless times. It means you create less waste, you save money and the environment will love you for it. Everybody wins.
If you're in a yacht club or corner store, purchase or lease a water vending machine. You can even get flavored water dispensed. If every shop replaced the fridge they store bottled water in with a water vending machine, they still make money but don't kill the environment. Oh and it would be cheaper for you too.
I don't want to sail on an ocean of plastic and I'm sure you don't want to either. We need to change our habits today. It is the little things that count towards making our oceans safe for the future.
Say no to plastic water bottles.
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE.
- Ian Thomson
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