In July of 2020, Bevi users reached a notable milestone: They helped save the planet from 200 million plastic bottles. Eliminating the need for plastic bottles and cans is a driving force behind the concept of the Bevi office water dispenser. So much so, that a user can see just how many bottles a particular machine is saving with a counter right in the Bevi touchscreen.
While that may be the most obvious indicator of a positive effect on the environment, there is more behind Bevi’s approach to supporting sustainability in the workplace.
The carbon-intensive process of bottling water
Before you ever grab a beverage at work, a good deal of energy has gone into getting that bottle of water into the office refrigerator. The source for more than half of all bottled water comes from springs and aquifers. Moving all that water to a bottling facility requires energy for pumps and trucks. The bottles it goes into also require significant resources to produce. In a 2007 study, the Pacific Institute found it took the equivalent of approximately 17 million barrels of oil to make all the plastic for bottled water consumed by Americans in 2006. That’s was enough energy to power 1 million vehicles for a year. More recent research at Stanford University in 2018 put the oil consumption number for plastic bottle production at 50 million barrels per year.
But that’s not the only area where fossil fuels come into play. Still more are used in transporting the 50 billion plastic bottles used each year in the U.S. from the manufacturer to the bottling facility.
Re-imagining a more sustainable supply chain
Finding a better way to do something often requires doing it differently. Point-of-use office water dispensers, such as those from Bevi, connect to an existing water line. From there, the water can be dispensed still, sparkling or flavored right into a glass or reusable beverage tumbler. This not only cuts out the need for plastic bottles and aluminum cans, it eliminates the substantial amount of fuel needed to source, bottle, and transport the water.
Building on a good idea
While point-of-use water dispensers are certainly more environmentally friendly, there are additional ways to shrink the carbon footprint of your glass of water. By connecting water dispensers to the internet, some manufacturers are able to monitor specific aspects of their machines, such as filter life and supply levels of flavors and CO2. With this information, maintenance and restocking calls can be more accurately scheduled, minimizing the fuel consumption of service vehicles.
In addition to using machine data to schedule flavor and CO2 refills, Bevi has made the service process even greener. Bevi uses flavor boxes made from recyclable materials that can also be easily recycled after use. And the flavor bags, which are made from recyclable #7 plastic, are accepted in some community recycling programs.
There’s nearly universal agreement that staying hydrated throughout the day is important to staying healthy, feeling good, and being more productive. How each of us does that is a personal choice, but we believe a choice that’s good for people as well as the environment is one worth offering. It’s an idea that has caught on with many companies and their employees. You can read about them here. We’re proud to be part of our customers’ efforts to save 200 million plastic bottles and we continue to look for ways to help them stay healthy and be greener.
Instead of recycling plastic water bottles and cans, what if we never had to use them in the first place?
From a nightclub stage, a comedian riffs about trash and recycling. “With trash, if there’s something you don’t want anymore, you throw it away and you never see it again. But with recycling, you toss it in the bin and it comes back as something else you will eventually have to get rid of all over again.”
While this open-mic-night insight may not be entirely accurate, it does hint at an awkward truth surrounding recycling: Using bottles and cans means always having to deal with them when we’re done.
On average, Americans crack open around 1500 bottles of water each second. That translates to 90,000 every hour and 2.2 million every day. From a human health perspective, it’s good that we’re drinking so much water. However, for the health of our planet, the effects aren’t as beneficial.
While most of those plastic bottles can be recycled, a large percentage of them aren’t. Dr. Peter Gleick, the author of “Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water,” says only 30 percent of those bottles make it into the recycling bin. The rest wind up in landfills, incinerators, or littering the land and the ocean. In fact, a widely reported study by the World Economic Forum and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation determined that by the year 2050, the ocean will contain more plastic than fish. And many of those fish will have ingested a significant amount of that plastic.
Put down the bottle. Pick up the can.
Another thing to consider is putting water in aluminum cans instead of plastic bottles. Take a look inside the fridge in just about any office kitchen, breakroom, or cafeteria and you’ll likely see the most popular waters, seltzers, and flavored beverages in shiny aluminum rows.
Along with being easier to stack and taking up less fridge space, cans have a much higher recycling profile than their polyethylene cousins. Cans in the U.S. are recycled at rate of 50 percent, distinguishing them as the most recycled beverage container in the world. Plus, the high recyclability of aluminum means that 75 percent of all aluminum produced is still in circulation, and each regenerated can uses 90 percent less energy and produces 90 percent less emissions compared to producing a brand new can.
The environmental attractiveness of recycling cans is increasing demand. However, the problem with that is there are not enough cans in circulation right now to meet that demand. More will need to be made from scratch, and creating a new can produces double the greenhouse gases of a plastic bottle. So, while we’re improving sustainability through recycling, we’re working against that by adding carbon through can manufacturing.
A better answer to bottles and cans
Staying properly hydrated and preserving the environment don’t have to be so complicated if you consider an alternative to bottles and cans. Smart beverage dispensers, like those from Bevi, let you get that drink without the plastic or aluminum middleman. They not only supply pure filtered and sparkling water right into your reusable tumbler cup, they let you easily add electrolytes to boost your hydration and flavors to elevate your mood.
At the same time, you could be replacing 30 thousand bottles and cans each year, and as the standup comedian would point out, “never having to deal with them again.” And that may be the most refreshing part of that drink of water.
For those of us returning to our offices, the workplace we step back into will look different from the one we left.
Desks will be farther apart. Hand sanitizer dispensers will be as ubiquitous as light switches. And floor signage and tape lines will physically define boundaries within even the most open of office plans.
It will be different in another way that may not be so apparent: It won’t be as green as it was before the pandemic. Nearly all of the changes we’ll encounter are being made to keep us safe, which is obviously important. At the same time, what’s helping keep us healthy could have the opposite effect on the environment.
For instance, coffee shops are no longer accepting reusable containers and restaurants are relying on disposable menus, plates, and plastic utensils. Even if you opt for takeout or delivery, your meal will likely be packed in a Styrofoam container that makes its way to you in a plastic bag. The result is a lot more waste.
One word: Plastics
All of that waste is being dramatically compounded by a growing reliance on single-use plastic for so many other items, such as bottled water, bags, and packaging. Trying to stem that rising tide with recycling is also becoming more difficult as material-recovery facilities (MRFs) have slowed or halted their operation while they struggle with keeping workers safely apart along recyclable sorting conveyor belts.
We can still make a difference.
Here’s the good news: As we all head back to work, we can bring sustainability with us. Here are a few simple things each of us can do to flatten the Plastic Curve.
Wear a mask. Wash a mask. Consider wearing a mask made of washable fabric in the office. It’s one way to protect your co-workers. Plus, you can launder it after two to three uses, instead of disposing of it.
Commute cleaner. Employers are incentivizing their employees to drive to work rather than use public transportation. However, a healthy compromise could involve employers also providing incentives for walking or biking to work, both of which limit social contact and greenhouse gasses.
Use, clean, repeat. Consider bringing your lunch and snacks with you in a reusable container. It can be safely cleaned with soap and hot water, ideally in your dishwasher. There are also reusable solutions for food, cleaning, and personal care items to help cut down on plastic use at home. TerraCycle’s Loop program delivers products in durable containers that you ship back for cleaning and reuse once the product is gone.
A number of companies are releasing touchless water dispensers, which will provide a safe way to use a reusable cup or beverage tumbler at work and avoid cracking open and disposing of a bottle or can.
Starting July 13, existing and new Bevi machines will enable you to use your smartphone to dispense beverages so you never have to touch the machine. We think that’s a great way to stay hydrated, stay safe, and contribute to sustainability at work.
We know a lot of businesses and people were committed to creating sustainability at work before the pandemic came along. We believe that how you stay healthy and how you head back to work are your choices to make. And while things will certainly look and feel different when we walk back through the door, many of those differences can create new opportunities for sustainability. We’re committed to finding them, and sharing them with all of you.
Biodegradable cutlery, recyclable plastic cups, sustainable to-go containers—new eco-friendly products seem to pop up everyday. While these eco-friendly alternatives are a step in the right direction, it’s often clear where and how they should be disposed.
In this Recycling Refresher Guide, we’re going back to the basics to solve the everyday mysteries of recycling at home and in the office. Check out the guide below for basic recycling tips and a brief look into composting, TerraCycling and e-waste recycling.
But first, why should you recycle?
Recycling drastically reduces the amount of waste sent to landfills and incinerators.
It goes without saying that landfills are one of the largest sources of human-related greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, landfills were the third-largest source of methane emissions in the US in 2016. The less plastic sent to the incinerator, the less methane in the earth’s atmosphere, and the less potentially harmful pollutants in our air, water, and land.
Recycling curtails the harvesting of new raw materials.
Recycling helps to reduce our reliance on‘virgin’ metal, plastic, and glass products, ultimately conserving natural resources such as timber, water, and minerals.
Recycling saves energy.
Collecting raw materials, such as ore, and turning them into usable materials such as plastic, metal, or glass requires a significant amount of energy. Transforming recycled materials into usable materials, however, takes much less energy. The resulting energy savings varies among materials. Recycling glass only saves about 10-15% of the energy needed to make it from scratch, while recycling aluminum saves 94% of the energy needed to create aluminum from ore.
What can I recycle?
Cardboard, glass bottles, aluminum cans, newspapers—most people recognize that these items belong in the recycling.
It’s no surprise then that the five most commonly recycled materials are aluminum, glass, paper, plastic, and steel. Among these groups, aluminum likely yields the most energy savings, as recycling aluminum saves 94% of the energy it takes to process the raw ore (also known as bauxite) and doesn’t decrease the quality of the metal. Some manufacturers even claim that they’re able to put a recycled can back on the supermarket shelf in as few as 90 days.
Within the category of plastic, plastic bottles held the number one spot in 2015 as the most recycled plastic product in the US. Did you know that recycling 10 plastic bottles will conserve the same amount of energy it takes to power a laptop for 25+ hours? That’s some serious savings!
So know what should be recycled… but do you know where and how? Check out the recycling tips below for a refresher!
Bottles & Cans
When it comes to bottles and cans, recycling facilities take care of most of the work. Despite the fact that they’re made from a variety of materials (i.e. plastic, glass, and aluminum), bottles and cans belong in the same recycling bin. (This may vary by region.)
Here’s a few recycling tips to make sure your bottles and cans properly make their way through the waste stream:
Where should you toss a bottle or can? Find the green or blue recycling bin. Some public containers might have lids with bottle-sized slots in them, indicating the container is solely for plastic, glass, or aluminum recycling, as opposed to paper.
If there’s visible residue, give your bottle or can a quick rinse. Don’t waste water scrubbing your bottles and cans: a simple swish of water will do the trick! If the container held a stickier substances (such as a juice or smoothie), it may require an extra scrub.
Check with your local facility to see if plastic bottle caps are accepted. Plastic bottle caps are often made from a different plastic resin than the bottle itself as your local facility might only accept the bottle.
Remove bottle caps made from aluminum or metal.While aluminum and metal are recyclable, lids made from these materials often pose problems for recycling machinery. (Some facilities, however, can sort and recycle metal caps; check with your local service for best practices.) Send your metal caps to a metal recycler for reprocessing instead.
Should I crush my bottles and cans before recycling?It depends. If you or your office has single-stream recycling, it’s best to not crush your bottles, as they will be harder to sort at the recycling center. (This may not be the case in all locations; check with your local center for more accurate information). If you have access to multiple-streams of recycling, it’s more acceptable to save space by crushing your bottles and cans.
In addition to reducing your consumption, here’s a short list of paper recycling tips to maximize your eco-efforts:
Not sure where to toss your paper? Look for the blue or green recycling bin. Dual-stream and single-stream recycling programs will either use a blue or green container to indicate paper recycling. Some public bins might have a lid with a thin slot, indicating the container is purely for paper recycling.
Don’t let your paper recycling get wet.Wet paper and cardboard will not be processed by your recycling facility.
Flatten your cardboard boxes to maximize the space in your recycling bin. Your neighbors, office manager, and waste management service will thank you.
Buy recyclable gift wrap or reuse newspaper.Each year, Americans throw out more than 4 million tons of wrapping paper. Reduce your waste by purchasing gift paper without a laminated or plastic outer coating.
Don’t shred your paper. Shredded paper is more difficult to process as the length of the fibers has been significantly reduced. Protect any sensitive information by blackening it out with a sharpie instead. (And if you do have shredded paper to throw out, put it in a paper bag and clearly label it.)
Think twice when recycling paper with a plastic lining. Consult your local waste management service to find out what the local recycling facility is able to process.
According to National Geographic, about 91% of the plastic on our globe has not been recycled.Furthermore, over half of the plastic manufactured ends up in a landfill within a year’s time. Some studies indicate that there will be more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050.
Help keep plastic waste out of our oceans and landfills with these recycling tips for your everyday plastic items:
Before tossing your plastic, check the symbol. You’ve probably noticed a small triangle with a number inside of it on plastic containers before. This symbol indicates the type of resin used to create the plastic, thereby helping the consumer know where, how, or if it can be recycled. Consult with your local waste management service to find out exactly which kinds of plastic it supports.
Note: the green triangle does notindicate a product is recyclable; it simply identifies the type of plastic.
Don’t worry about peeling off the labels. Most recycling facilities are able to easily get rid of labels during processing. If a container clearly has a paper label, consider recycling it with your paper rather than your plastic.
How much do I have to clean my peanut butter jars before recycling?Much less than you think. Scrape out as much of the residual product as possible, but don’t worry if the jar isn’t sparkling clean. Most recycling facilities will thoroughly clean your plastic before processing it.
For information on plastic bags and other films, see the below.
Can I recycle pizza boxes?
Typically made from corrugated cardboard, pizza boxes are recyclable if they have not yet been used. Once the box is soiled with pizza, calzone, or hot wings grease, it is no longer recyclable. These oils cannot be removed from the cardboard or paper during the initial pulping process used by most recycling facilities.
Broadly speaking, food is one of the biggest sources of paper recycling contamination. Think twice next time you recycle your takeout containers! If they’re made from paper and saturated with oil, they don’t belong with your recycling.
Can I put my recycling in a plastic bag?
The type of container or bag you use for your recycling matters, especially if you have curbside collection. Do a quick search for your city’s regulations to find out exactly which bags or trash bins you should be using.
Plastic bags pose serious and costly problems to recycling machinery.
Unless your city explicitly mandates a specific type of bag, it’s best to avoid putting your recycling into plastic bags. No matter your city’s regulations, you should never use the small plastic bags you get from the grocery store for your recycling.
As this video of a recycling facility in Chicago exposes, plastic bags present serious issues for a facility’s machinery and staff. Before entering the sorting machine, employees attempt to remove all plastic bags from the batch. Many, however, slip through and end up wrapped around the machinery that helps to sort the recycling. Removing these tightly-wound bags from the machinery is both a costly and lengthy process. This ultimately wastes time the facility could otherwise spend turning recycling into new raw materials.
How can I recycle plastic bags?
So what should you do with plastic bags? Well, in many cases, you can recycle them. The majority of plastic bags are made from #2 or #4 plastic (also know as high-density polyethylene or low-density polyethylene), both of which can be recycled. Many grocery stores have collection bins for plastic bags, making it fairly convenient to get rid of them. To find a plastic bag recycling location near you, use this locator.
The symbols for #2 and #4 plastic.
If you can’t identify the type of plastic, err on the side of caution and reuse the bag rather than recycle it.
Many eco-champions avoid the trouble of recycling plastic bags by using reusable tote bags at the grocery store or repurposing plastic bags for storage or organization.
Here at Bevi, we love these reusable tote bags made from 100% recycled plastic bottles. Check out Enviro-tote.com to get your own custom reusable bags.
To find out more about how and where to recycle bags and other plastic films, see here.
Where and how can I get rid of my recycling? What happens to it next?
Whether you’re interested in recycling at home or in the office, there are several ways to manage to your recycling. Many municipalities offer curbside collection of paper and plastic recycling, and most communities have privately-owned or volunteer-run drop-off centers as well as deposit programs at the local supermarket. These services ensure recycled materials make it to the proper facility, yet it’s up to you to sort your recycling and trash beforehand.
Located in Boston, Save That Stuff is a privately-owned recycling and waste services company that collects everything from vegetable oil to oyster shells.
Once collected, your paper and plastic waste is transported to a facility where it will first be sorted, then cleaned, and eventually processed into materials than can be resold and purchased as if they were raw materials. This process not only leads to energy savings, but also helps create new jobs. The 2016 national Recycling Economic Information (REI) Study found that for every thousand tons of material that was recycled, 1.57 new jobs were created. Not too shabby for properly sorting your paper and plastic!
What is composting and what goes into the compost bin?
Composting is a natural process in which organic matter decomposes into a nutrient-rich material called humus, or the more colloquial term, compost. Like recycling, compost turns trash into treasure: unwanted food scraps and lawn clippings transform into healthy soil that retains moisture, prevents plant pests, and reduces the need for chemical fertilizers.
Unlike curbside recycling, which has become a standard in most communities, curbside composting is more uncommon. This makes it quite difficult for individuals and offices to dispose of their food waste in an easy and eco-friendly manner.
One option is to start a compost heap in your own backyard. This works particularly well if your yard has a lot of tree-cover, as the compost heap will require dead leaves, branches, or twigs to stay healthy.
Paper, plastic and compost bins in an office.
If your home or your office does not have any outdoor space, there are many privately-operated services you can use to have your compost collected. (Here in Boston, many homes and businesses use Bootstrap Compost.) While they’re an additional expense, these services make composting just as easy as recycling. You do your part to separate your organic waste and the service does the rest!
What is TerraCycling?
Here at Bevi, we love our sustainable beverages, but we also love to snack. TerraCycle makes our snacking a guilt-free experience.
TerraCycle uses their Zero Waste boxes to collect ‘unrecyclable’ materials, such as snack and candy wrappers, from consumers around the country. They then reprocess these typically ‘unrecyclable’ products as practical, affordable products, thereby keeping them out of the landfill. While these zero waste boxes are on the expensive side, they’re a worthwhile eco-investment for your home or office. As far as we’re concerned, TerraCycling is the next best thing to reducing (or reusing) your plastic waste.
How do I get rid of electronic waste?
Even if you’re an eco-champion, E-waste is a difficult waste stream to manage.
Electronic waste, also known as e-waste, refers to consumer and business electronic equipment that is near the end of its life or no longer functioning. Things like blenders, microwaves, computers, keyboards, and cell phones all fit into the loosely defined category of e-waste. The proper disposal of e-waste is critical to keeping harmful chemicals, such as the flame-retardants, out of our eco-systems.
Before recycling your e-waste, first check if it can be repaired or donated. If it’s truly unusable, find an e-waste recycling center or service near you to ensure its proper disposal. Many companies even offer a special plan for offices, making it easy and convenient to get rid of e-waste at work.
Remember: recycling is a last resort. Do your best to reduce and reuse!
The best way to conserve natural resources and keep trash from pilling up in the landfill is to reduce our reliance on single-use products, thereby reducing our overall waste. When you factor in the energy used to produce and transport one-time-use products, it’s clear that our land, air, and oceans cannot sustain this level of pollution.
This is exactly what spurred Bevi Co-Founder Eliza Becton to out-design the notorious plastic water bottle. After learning of the Pacific Garbage Patch, Eliza knew she had to do something to stop the sea of plastic waste from growing. But what? She knew it would be impossible to guilt people into changing their behavior. Instead, she knew she had to design something so efficient, so eye-catching that people would change their behavior voluntarily. The idea for Bevi was born.
To make her vision a reality, in 2013 Becton teamed up with two friends, Sean Grundy and Frank Lee, who shared her interest in sustainability. Together they began prototyping a water machine that would provide healthy fizz and flavors on demand, encouraging people to use reusable bottles rather than relying on single-use plastic bottles. Today, Bevi’s smart water dispensers have saved the waste generated by over 54 million plastic bottles.
Each year, Americans toss out more than 4 million tons of wrapping paper. Bring tidings and good cheer to the Earth this holiday season with these 8 eco-friendly alternatives to gift wrap.
And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: ‘How could it be so?
It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without packages, boxes or bags!
— How The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
In a world in which $2.6 billion dollars is spent annually on one-time use wrapping paper, the Grinch’s famous cry of disbelief reads like an eco-advocate’s exclamation of joy.
It’s no surprise that Americans produce 25% more waste in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years than in any other period of the year. Every holiday season, Americans throw out over 38,000 miles of ribbon, not to mention the 15 million Christmas trees that get tossed in the trash.
It’s the most wonderful — and wasteful — time of the year.
Although these stats may make you want to say “bah humbug,” using alternatives to wrapping paper is an easy way to reduce waste this holiday season. Check out these 8 eco-friendly ideas.
1. Make the packaging part of the gift.
Good things come without a package. There are all sorts of ways to use a gift as its own packaging; some ideas include: wrapping mittens and socks in a matching sweater, filling a pot or pan with kitchen supplies for someone who just got a new apartment, adding gardening supplies to a bucket or plant pot, stuffing a new purse with gift-cards, wrapping a gift box in a scarf or cozy blanket, making a mini care-package for a college student in a Tupperware container, etc. Let’s face it, you’re a gift giving pro, and don’t need any help from paper packaging to prove it!
Sources: DarlingDoodlesDesign, A Part of Life Blog, and Garden Therapy.
2. Repurpose old newspapers or brown paper bags.
Good for gifts of any size, and perfect for those who actually enjoy perfectly folding and taping each individual gift. While the newspaper will end up in the recycling bin along with the regular wrapping paper, at least it was repurposed. If you like the look of paper gift wrap, but would like to cut back on your tape usage, try doing some wrapping paper origami or using ribbon instead of tape (see #6 for an upcycled ribbon idea).
3. Reuse 6-pack beer boxes
You’ve been pregraming for Great Aunt Susie’s annual holiday party all day when you realize you forgot to wrap your Secret Santa gift. Have no fear: the 6-pack box you were about to throw out will do the trick! 6-pack boxes are perfect for multi-component (or multi-person gifts). Similar to good old-fashion stocking-stuffing, you can stuff each of the six compartments with gift items. Things like socks, rolled-up t-shirts, hair care or skin products, chocolate bars, candles, and of course, beer, fit perfectly in each slot. (Not a beer drinker? Check out these 6-pack boxes with built-in holiday cards made by Beer Greetings.)
Source: Beer Greetings
4. Emphasize the element of surprise with a recycled cereal box
Chances are you have about 3 cereal or snack boxes sitting in your recycling bin right now. There’s nothing better than adding multiple layers of surprise: using cereal and snack boxes of different sizes, try packaging up a small gift in a series of boxes — sort of a Russian nesting doll approach. This is a particularly good way to make opening gift cards a little more fun for kids.
5. Use old maps
In the golden age of smart devices, printed maps are nothing but dust collectors. Rather than keeping that map of Virginia in your glove compartment as an artifact of decades past, consider upcycling it and using it as a substitute for traditional paper gift wrap.
6. Cut back on your ribbon usage by recycling old t-shirts
Put those old little league t-shirts to good use by transforming them into ribbon. While this upcycled gift wrap idea may require a little more work and planning on your end, the process is very simple. All you need is an old, colorful t-shirt and a pair of scissors. Check out this quick how-to video for instructions, and say goodbye to twirling ribbon.
7. For the hipster in your life, use a mason jar
I’m sure everyone has seen mason jars with cookie and cake mix in in local specialty shops. Mason jars are very versatile, and are the perfect vessel for any type of recipe, from a cocktail starter kit to a ‘spa-in-a-jar,’ to sewing kits and ‘go fishing’ jars. If you’re at a loss for gift grab ideas, thinking about what would fit into an empty mason jar is an easy way to jump start your brainstorming process.
Source: The Gunny Sack
8. Add some character to that unexciting Amazon box
So you have a box, but you don’t have any maps, newspapers, tape, old t-shirts…or any time. You’re not as short handed as you think! Instead of writing a card, use the box as your canvas. Write funny quotes or memories about the gift recipient; jot down a riddle; say something witty about why gift wrap is a thing of the past. When I was a kid, my mom let us decorate the outsides of the boxes we were shipping to family members out of state. Using stamps and paint, the once dreary brown color became a sea of colorful patterns and shapes.
We added a Bevi sticker to ours
In addition to these alternatives, there are also several reusable fabric gift wraps out there for purchase (check out LilyWrap or the variety of options available on Etsy).
Regardless of the approach you take, there’s no better way to show someone you care this holiday season than using sustainable gift wrap.
When we’re not promoting eco-friendly gift wrap, Bevi is on a mission to reduce plastic bottle waste, one pour of sparkling grapefruit water at a time.
Learn how you can reduce your plastic bottle waste here.
The health of our planet makes headlines every day in ways that, individually, we have little control over. The good news is that, policy changes aside, greening your little corner of the world can have a tremendous effect on the overall planet.
Haven’t thought about reducing your personal waste before? We’ve broken down a few ways to get started and a few more ways to really take things to the next level.
If you’re not already doing these things, don’t fret but start now! Most of these can be incorporated into your life today.
Identify recyclables – Find out what your country recycles and then start doing it!
Switch to paperless billing – Most credit card, utility, and other bills you receive can be electronically delivered and paid. Login to each individual account and set your account to paperless billing to cut down on all of the envelopes, sheets of paper, paper checks and even stamps that cycle through your home. And, while you’re at it, unsubscribe from unwanted catalogs to cut down on your junk mail.
Keep an eye out for excessive packaging and avoid:
Individually wrapped items. Buy the large cereal box instead of the smaller individual boxes and, when possible, buy in bulk. Need smaller portions? Repackage into reusable containers once you get home.
Products wrapped up more than they need to be. That notebook doesn’t need all that shrink wrapping, does it?
Packaged items that don’t need packaging. Does a hammer really need to be wrapped up in plastic when you buy it?
Got the basics down? Up your waste-reduction game.
Think before you print, buy, write, and then, reuse – Write grocery lists on the pack of used paper (or go electronic!). Visit your local library or invest in an e-reader to keep up with your reading habit.
Invest in reusable – Just about everything you use regularly can be reused. Start by getting yourself a reusable water bottle and set of canvas shopping bags. Move onto silicone muffin tins for your baking and reusable mesh coffee filters for your morning caffeine. Replace paper towels with cloths and buy refillable pens and mechanical pencils for your office.
Green your kitchen – Be on the lookout for new ways to use the food and water flowing through your kitchen. Convert your leftovers into new meals before they go bad. Think of alternate uses for the water you use to boil pasta or wash vegetables, such as watering plants, before you pour it down the drain.
Ready for even bigger waste reduction? Here we go.
Start a compost heap – Enjoy the double benefit of keeping food waste out of the system and providing extra rich food for the plants around your home which, in turn, will create a healthier environment for you and your family.
Switch to reusable containers – Beyond reusable water bottles and lunch packaging, research options in your community for getting normal groceries, like milk, in containers that you can return for reuse.
Let this new perspective into every aspect of your life – Once you get going, you’ll likely realize that there are ways to green every area of your life, even spaces you never thought of. You could invest in a pressure cooker for shorter cooking times and less energy use. Switch to cloth gift bags for holidays and birthdays to reduce paper. Find place to recycle or donate unwanted clothes, toys, books, and even cell phones and gadgets so that those items don’t end up in landfills. The possibilities for reducing personal waste are truly endless.
Reduce, reuse, recycle. The three Rs roll off our tongues as a set. But do we walk the walk for all that talk?
When it comes to bottled water, recycling gets a lot of attention. And while recycling every bottle we open will reduce the amount of plastic in landfills, that’s only part of the solution. Unfortunately, we’re opening more and more bottles every year and the impact on the environment of creating, transporting, and even recycling all those bottles continues to intensify.
The water bottle you hold in your hands today made its mark long before crossing paths with you. Its creation alone required two precious and limited resources: water and oil.
That you need water to create bottled water is no secret. But what might surprise you is that an estimated 3 liters of water flow into the making of each 1 liter water bottle. Groundwater plays an important role in oil drilling and oil is a key component of plastic. Water also takes part in manufacturing the bottle’s paper labels. Ultimately, there’s more water in your water bottle than what passes through your lips.
And then there’s the oil. To satisfy the annual demand for bottled water, in the U.S. alone, requires 17 million barrels of oil, or enough to power a million cars for a year. Then the bottles must be transported. Often, the water bottle you grab on your travels has traveled thousands of miles to get to you, a journey that requires more oil than it takes to make the bottle in the first place.
Impact during recycling: the case for reuse
Whether you recycle it or not, that bottle will continue to make its mark after you and it part ways.
Tossing it in the trash will send it off to a landfill, with almost 70% of all other water bottles in the U.S. The bottle will outlast all of us in that landfill, taking more than 1,000 years to biodegrade.
Tossing it in the recycle bin will give it a chance at a new life. But even that comes with a cost. A water bottle’s afterlife often takes it to China where it is transformed into clothes, toys, carpets or auto parts and then shipped back. Although new plants opening in the U.S. have reduced the cost of a recycled bottle’s round-trip journey, the impact is still devastating.
The overall impact
While recycling does lessen the environmental impact of the plastic water bottle, unfortunately it doesn’t go far enough. To be recycled, the bottle has to be made and then remade, wasting precious natural resources (and still releasing unnecessary chemicals into the world).
Which brings us back to the three Rs. Recycle, of course. But whenever possible, bring along your own reusable water bottle or let a plastic one hang around a bit longer so that you are reducing and reusing as well!
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