As modern society becomes more environmentally conscious, we have made positive strides toward sustainable lifestyles—from using eco-friendly household products to conserving water and energy to recycling various materials. However, not everyone abides by these practices, opting for convenience over eco-friendliness.
This issue is especially problematic where water bottles are concerned. Due to their disposable and on-the-go design, these bottles often land in trash receptacles instead of recycle bins. Consequently, landfills become inundated with non-biodegradable waste, which then causes atmospheric pollution.
In the U.S. alone, an estimated 50 million water bottles are dumped into landfills each year – averaging 140 million per day. Given this toxic threat to both the planet and our well-being, how can we, as savvy consumers, determine which types are least likely to increase the carbon footprint? Let’s analyze how a few popular types on the market measure up, in terms of being biodegradable and recyclable.
Although these single-use water bottles offer the advantage of portability for our fast-paced schedules, plastic is a rampant environmental hazard. This material contains petroleum, a nonrenewable resource that triggers widespread fossil fuel pollution across both developed areas and natural ecosystems.
About 80% of these bottles are discarded rather than recycled, and plastic takes 700 years to decompose, contaminating the air and oceans. Each plastic water bottle emits 120 grams of greenhouse gases upon entering a landfill. Moreover, these products cannot be reused because they leak the toxic chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA).
Made from polycarbonate, or hard plastic, these durable and long-lasting water bottles allow for multiple uses to promote sustainability while decreasing waste. However, like disposable plastic, this material also contains petroleum, meaning the oil needed to manufacture polycarbonate for our water bottles each year could power one million vehicles per year.
In addition, silicone water bottles exude potentially harmful levels of BPA which can provoke respiratory, neurological, cardiovascular, thyroid or reproductive issues. This synthetic compound also adversely impacts the development of freshwater habitats, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Silicone is also non-recyclable, so if this product becomes damaged, it winds up in the landfill. Silicone solves the sustainability problem water bottles face, but not the biodegradable aspect.
While these highly resilient water bottles are among the most expensive options currently on the market, stainless steel’s sustainable framework is worth the investment. In fact, don’t be deterred by its price tag because this material has a long lifespan that withstands virtually unlimited usage—in addition to being dishwasher safe and recyclable.
Unlike the health risks associated with silicone and other polycarbonates, stainless steel is BPA-free and adheres to food-grade standards by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Just ensure the water bottle has been manufactured by an American company, because stainless steel produced overseas often contains noxious substances. Unlike either silicon or traditional plastic water bottles, stainless steel offers both sustainability and the potential for recycling – not to mention it’s one of the healthiest materials for water bottles!
Equally lightweight, yet more eco-friendly than plastic, these reusable water bottles are also more cost-effective alternatives to stainless steel. When lined with non-toxic epoxy resin, this material protects the consumer from harmful BPA exposure and meets the FDA requirements for safe, innocuous usage.
Another advantage of aluminum bottles is their recyclable composition which minimizes the threat of greenhouse gas emission. Those who choose this product as a substitute for single-use plastic bottles should be mindful that, when cleaned in a dishwasher or placed in extreme temperatures, the aluminum could release trace amounts of BPA.
Developed from an innovative and entirely “green” type of plastic, this BPA-free water bottle can not only be recycled, but stimulates bio-degradation as well. Upon entering a landfill, this material rapidly decomposes, converting into organic matter instead of contaminating the atmosphere. Therefore, even if the bottle is not recycled, its discarded remains will not exacerbate plastic pollution.
Alkame products also contain Ultra-Hydration water which is naturally formulated to balance the body’s pH levels, increase oxygenation, boost energy and elevate antioxidant absorption. These properties support optimal immune, metabolic, cardiovascular and respiratory functions. Overall, Alkame water bottles are beneficial for both the planet’s well-being and our own physical health.
These durable, long-last bottles have been serving us for decades – the first glass container was made about 1500 BC, although glass blowing wasn’t discovered until 37 BC. Modern glass is made from sand, soda ash, limestone and cullet – the industry term used to refer to furnace-ready recycled glass. These materials are heated to 2,600-2,800 degrees Fahrenheit and then molded into the desired shape.
Glass bottles have earned their “green” badge and rightfully so – they’re 100% recyclable! Perhaps the most sustainable and recyclable material available for water bottles, glass is also easy to keep sterile. To avoid breakage (and increase sustainability!), you can buy a silicone sleeve for your water bottle. Glass can be reused with a loss in quality or cleanness – something very few water bottles can do!
Research indicates the average American will use 167 water bottles on an annual basis, but only 38 will be recycled. Moreover, the energy expended through this nation’s annual water bottle consumption could power 190,000 households for a year.
In order to minimize these statistics, we should substitute our reliance on disposable water bottles for reusable alternatives manufactured with eco-friendly materials. Ultimately, this sustainable living initiative will promote an environmentally aware and globally responsible society.
Ted Rollins, of Greenville, SC, serves on the regional Environmental Defense Fund board. He has played an active role in regenerative practices globally as a board member of CLEAR, the Center for Living Environments. Throughout the years, Ted’s work has taken him across the US as a leading developer and manager of high-quality, purpose-built housing properties, with a focus on environmentally sustainable, multi-family housing. Follow Ted on LinkedIn.
Consumers Investing in Eco-Friendly Cars with the UK Green Revolution
The UK public appears to be embracing the electric car UK Green Revolution, as recent statistics reveal that more and more consumers are making the switch from petrol and diesel to electric or alternatively fuelled vehicles. The demand for diesel fell by almost a third in October compared to last year, whilst hybrid and electric cars rose by a staggering 36.9%.
Time for UK Green Revolution Change
So, what is the reason for this sudden change? This comes down to the current situation in the UK, which has led to people embracing eco-friendly technologies and automobiles. One of the main reasons is the Government’s clean air plans, which includes the impending 2040 ban on petrol and diesel automobiles. There is then the rollout of the T-Charge in London, the city of Oxford announcing that they will be banning petrol and diesel from the city centre by 2020 and various other big announcements which take up a lot of space and time in the UK press.
In addition to this, the negative publicity against diesel has had a huge impact on the UK public. This has led to a lot of confusion over emissions, but actually, the newest low emission diesel automobiles will not face restrictions and are not as bad to drive as many believe. Most notably, German brand Volkswagen has been affected due to the emissions scandal in recent times. It was discovered that some emissions controls for VW’s turbocharged direct injection diesel engines were only activated during laboratory testing, so these automobiles were emitting 40 times more NO in real-world driving. As a result of this and all the negative publicity, the manufacturer has made adaptations and amended their vehicles in Europe. Additionally, they have made movements to improve the emissions from their cars, meaning that they are now one of the cleaner manufacturers. Their impressive range includes the Polo, Golf and Up, all of which can be found for affordable prices from places like Unbeatable Car.
The Current Market
The confusion over the Government’s current stance on diesel has clearly had a huge impact on the public. So much so that the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has called on the Government to use the Autumn Budget to restore stability in the market and encourage the public to invest in the latest low emission automobiles. SMMT believes that this is the fastest and most effective way to address the serious air quality concerns in this country.
One way that the Government has encouraged the public to make the switch is by making incentives. Motorists can benefit from a grant when they purchase a new plug-in vehicle, plus there are benefits like no road tax for electric vehicles and no congestion charge. When these are combined with the low running costs, it makes owning an electric automobile an appealing prospect and especially because there are so many great models available and a type to suit every motorist. One of the main reasons holding motorists back is the perceived lack of charging points. However, there are currently over 13,000 up and down the country with this number rapidly increasing each month. It is thought that the amount of charging points will outnumber petrol stations by 2020, so it is easy to see more and more motorists start to invest in electric cars way ahead of the 2040 ban.
It is an interesting time in the UK as people are now embracing the electric car revolution. The Government’s clean air plans seem to have accelerated this revolution, plus the poor publicity that diesel has received has only strengthened the case for making the switch sooner rather than later.
How To Make The Shipping Industry Greener
Each and every year more damage is done to our planet. When businesses are arranging pallet delivery or any other kind of shipping, the environment usually isn’t their number one concern. However, there’s an increasing pressure for the shipping industry to go greener, particularly as our oceans are filling with plastic and climate change is occurring. Fortunately, there’s plenty of technology out there to help with this. Here’s how the freight industry is going greener.
Make Ship Scrapping Cleaner
There are approximately 51,400 merchant ships trading around the world at the moment. Although the act of transporting tonnes of cargo across the ocean every year is very damaging to the environment, the scrapping of container ships is also very harmful. Large container ships contain asbestos, heavy metals and oils which are toxic to both people and the environment during demolition. The EU has regulations in place which ensure that all European ships are disposed of in an appropriate manner at licenced yards and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) introduced guidelines to make recycling of ships safe and environmentally friendly back in 2009, but since then only Norway, Congo and France have agreed to the policy. The IMO needs to ensure that more countries are on board with the scheme, especially India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, which are some of the worst culprits for scrapping, which may mean enforcing the regulations in the near future.
A single large container ship can produce the same amount of emissions as 50 million cars, making international shipping one of the major contributors towards global warming. Stricter emissions regulations are needed to reduce the amount of emissions entering our atmosphere. The sulphur content within ship fuel is largely responsible for the amount of emissions being produced; studies have shown that a reduction in the sulphur content in fuel oil from 35,000 p.p.m to 1,000 p.p.m could reduce the SOx emissions by as much as 97%! The IMO has already begun to ensure that ships with the Emission Control Areas of the globe, such as the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the English Channel, are using this lower sulphur content fuel, but it needs to be enforced around the world to make a significant difference.
As it’s not currently practical or possible to completely phase-out heavy, conventional fuels around the world, a sulphur scrubber system can be added to the exhaust system of ships to help reduce the amount of sulphur being emitted.
Better Port Management
As more and more ships are travelling around the world, congestion and large volumes of cargo can leave ports in developing countries overwhelmed. Rapidly expanding ports can be very damaging to the surrounding environment, take Shenzhen for example, it’s a collection of some of the busiest ports in China and there has been a 75% reduction in the number of mangroves along the coastline. Destroying valuable ecosystems has a knock-on effect on the rest of the country’s wildlife. Port authorities need to take responsibility for the environmental impact of construction and ensure that further expansion is carried out sustainably.
Some have suggested that instead of expansion, improved port management is needed. If port authorities can work with transport-planning bureaus, they will be able to establish more efficient ways of unloading cargo to reduce the impact on the environment caused by shipping congestion.