July 1, 2013
by Peggy
Comments Off on Recognizing the Value of Reuse

Recognizing the Value of Reuse

I recently tuned into an EPA webinar about valuing “stuff,” featuring Madalyn Cioci of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The main point of her presentation was that for far too long, we have considered reuse simply a means to … Continue reading

Plastic Bottles: “Endless Possibilities” or Endless Liabilities?

August 27, 2012 by Peggy | Comments Off on Plastic Bottles: “Endless Possibilities” or Endless Liabilities?

Really? Bill McDonough, famed co-author of “Cradle to Cradle,” stumping for Nestle? I happened across this promotional video for Nestle Waters yesterday, and was dumbstruck:

In the video, a series of young people hold an instantly recognizable plastic water bottle in their hands. But the bottle is empty, apparently worthless. Then Bill McDonough tells us that what he sees is not an empty bottle, but a vessel of endless possibilities! Yes, that water bottle is a valuable resource.

We at Brng.it see that Nestle PET bottle as an almost completely unnecessary waste of valuable resources to begin with. Apart from emergency situations, there is little justification for the production of plastic bottles of water.  We can’t do a better job of explaining why than Annie Leonard does, in her excellent video, “The Story of Bottled Water,” so please watch it.

Bill McDonough rightly points out that bottles can (sometimes) be made into more bottles, or into fleece and carpet. But then what, Bill?  Plastics recycling is by and large a so-called “open loop” system. Plastics get about one more use before going to the landfill or incinerator.  The plain fact is that most plastic doesn’t ever get recycled. And worse yet, far too much gets into the environment, where it will never go away. We have scarcely begun to acknowledge this, let alone deal with the ramifications (see video below).

The most appalling thing about the Nestle video is the way it suggests that, hey, maybe consumers should consider recycling their plastic water bottles. Why do we find this so infuriating?  It’s because the most effective means of getting PET bottles recycled–if that’s the goal– is to require refundable bottle deposits.  Significant deposits, like the 10 cents per bottle currently being considered nationally in Australia. Yet Nestle, Coke and Pepsi, the big three water bottlers, staunchly oppose bottle deposit legislation.

Just this year, the state of Massachusetts planned to update its 30-year-old bottle deposit law. The legislation was wildly popular, with a poll indicating 77% of the public agreed that water bottles, juice bottles and sports drink bottles should all be added to the existing deposit law.  But in early July, at around the time Nestle released their “Endless Possibilities” video, lobbyists for Nestle, Coke, Pepsi, Ocean Spray and Polar Beverages of New England were actively pressuring legislators to reject the updated bottle bill for Massachusetts, claiming that it would decrease their profits. And they were successful.

Where Nestle and Bill McDonough see endless possibilities, we see endless and intolerable liabilities for people and the planet.

Don’t drink the bottled water, #BYOR!

 

Bottled Water on the Rebound?

May 22, 2012 by Peggy | Comments Off on Bottled Water on the Rebound?

National Geographic published an article this week on bottled water sales in the U.S.

The shocker is that bottled water sales are starting to pick up again, after a few years of decline.  Last year (2011) bottled water sales reached 9.1 billion gallons– over 29 gallons for every U.S. citizen– for which we paid $21.7 billion. Hard to believe we fork over that kind of money for something that’s practically free from the tap.

In recent years there has been a grassroots effort to call attention to the fact that the bottled water industry is bad for people and the planet. The big three bottled water companies, Coke, Pepsi and Nestle, want us to believe that drinking bottled water is better for us than drinking tap water, even though bottled water is often just tap water dressed in a PET package.  It’s packaged for our convenience (and their profits), but not for our health (see our post on chemicals that leach from packaging) or the long-term health of the planet (see this Ted Talk by Capt. Charles Moore on the problem of plastic pollution).

Here’s a basic review of the argument against bottled water  from Annie Leonard:

But at the same time bottled water sales seem to be picking up, opposition to any such trend is growing as well. A number of universities and local governments are rejecting bottled water. Loyola University in Chicago recently banned the sale of bottled water on its campus, stating in its press release, “We feel that safe and accessible water is a fundamental human right and must not be handled in ways that put profits over people.”

Avoid plastic-packaged water–costly to both pocket book and environment– and support protection of native water resources for all. #BYOR!