Like most things that are destroying this tiny planet we call home, plastic started out as a miracle material.
It was cheap to make, lightweight, durable, and transparent, which made it the perfect packaging material for everything from toys to medical supplies and food. But we took it too far. Cheap plastic meant that we started using it for everything, including drinking water.
For years, we didn’t think bottled water was much of a problem because we understood that plastic bottles would be recycled. But most of the time, they don’t actually get recycled. And ultimately they end up in a landfill. And the ocean.
We used to think that the world was big and the oceans were endless, yet we managed to contaminate the environment with plastic at an unimaginable rate.
The Great Pacific garbage patch is basically a floating island of plastic in the Pacific that’s almost 20 times the area of Ireland. I had to triple-check my maths. Yes - 20 TIMES.
We love plastic because it’s durable, but it also means it can take 500 years for a plastic bottle to break down. Slowly, bit-by-bit.
And those tiny bits of microplastic end up everywhere, including our water supply. Fact is, we’re already drinking plastic. And bottled water is worst of all.
It’s ironic. We started drinking bottled water because we thought it was healthier than tap water. Yet years later, we realise that we’ve contaminated our water supply with the very bottles it comes in. Who would have imagined that?
But there’s an easy (and very cheap) solution to reduce the plastic-containing water and reverse the cycle of contamination.
First, buy stainless steel (or glass) water bottle and carry it everywhere. You’ll never need to buy another plastic bottle again, and you instantly reduce the amount of plastic you consume. Fill your stainless bottle with tap water whenever you need, and if you’re out and about, coffee shops, hotels and bars will fill it up for free.
Even in airports, make sure your bottle is empty before you go through security screening and fill it from a fountain or ask at a bar. Most people love to help you eliminate plastic bottles.
For the workplace, all employers must provide drinking water for employees by law. And many companies opt for those giant plastic bottles (usually with accompanying plastic cups which make them even worse).
A better (plastic-free) option is to install a water purifier. We recently installed a reverse osmosis filter which fits under the sink (thanks to Arek at nifty sales.ie). Reverse Osmosis filters can remove impurities like bacteria, heavy metals and pesticides. And, of course, microplastics.
For a few hundred Euros, we eliminated plastic from our office and now we have the cleanest drinking water available. Besides, we’re saving money over the bottled water we were buying before.
I’ve even ordered another unit at home so we can get the same quality plastic-free water at home too. Tap water is perfectly fine, but if you drink bottled water at home, you’d probably be better off investing in a reverse osmosis filter. You’ll have the reassurance that you’re drinking the cleanest water available, you’ll save money, and you’ll help remove plastic from our ecosystems.