Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Frugal Town in Lithuania Erects a Christmas Tree Made from 40,000 Recycled Plastic Bottles

Okay municipalities of the world, pay attention. For a third consecutive year the city of Kaunas, Lithuania approached artist Jolanta Å midtienÄ— to assist with their annual holiday decorating. Recognizing the city’s somewhat dire financial state the artist challenged herself to build something that wouldn’t rely on any administrative funds set aside for the event. The result: an enormous 13-meter tall Christmas tree made from nearly 40,000 recycled green bottles and zip ties.

At night the tree is lit from the inside resulting in a glowing, translucent, emerald green spruce that’s making headlines across the country.

more images

Monday, November 14, 2011

Grand Canyon Plastic Bottle Ban Stopped

from  by Jake Richardson,  Nov 14, 2011

Depending on which you source you use, it appears administrators at the Grand Canyon National Park may have been influenced by the Coca Cola corporation to stop a proposed ban on sales of disposable plastic water bottle sales within the park. They are the largest single source of garbage in the park, according to the LA Times. 

Success in reducing plastic water bottles at another national park (Zion) occurred when free water stations were installed, so visitors can re-fill their own water bottles. The same kind of water stations were installed for visitors at the Grand Canyon and tax payer expense, but then the administrators didn’t follow through with banning disposable plastic water bottle sales. 

It appears the reason is due to the fact Coca Cola would have lost money selling Dasani to the park’s visitors, and banning disposables at the Grand Canyon could have set a precedent for doing so across the national park system. A much larger ban could have caused Coca Cola even more revenue loss, and they have donated millions to the park system. 

Disposable plastic water bottles are problematic for a number of reasons, and they need to be eliminated or reduced greatly, especially in our national and state parks,which are supposed to be natural and trash-free. “Americans use about 50 billion plastic water bottles yearly, 167 for each person. About 38 billion end up in the landfills. End-to-end they would circle the equator 217 times. Making them uses ~20 billion barrels of oil and creates more than 25 million tons of CO2,” says the Department of the Interior website. 

The proposed ban would have allowed visitors to have their own disposable plastic water bottles, but prohibited sales of them inside the park. This approach sounds like a sensible one for reducing plastic water bottle trash there – even a compromise compared to banning their presence altogether.

Even a large park vendor management company has said they want a ban on such petroleum-based plastic bottles in all national parks, “We’re of the mind that the clock is ticking on petroleum-derived plastic. There should be a biodegradable alternative. It’s bad for the earth, it’s bad for the oceans, its bad for ecosystems. This is a lose-lose proposition.” (Source: New York Times)

You can do your part by not buying water in disposable plastic water bottles – especially in national and state parks.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Students: Stop using plastic water bottles

from  by Geena Maharaj,  Nov 2, 2011

Would you ever pay for something that you can get for free? Many St. Thomas students and faculty are guilty of doing this every time they buy a bottle of water. According to the National Resources Defense Council and Environment 911, we are spending 10,000 times more per gallon of water and allowing 800,000 metric tons of harmful pollutants to be released into the air by buying bottled water. The product’s success is truly a marketing mystery.

Bottled water entered the market in the ‘70s. It literally was a crazy idea at the time, but bottled water companies have been incredibly lucrative due to their deceptive and false marketing lexicon. This magic water doesn’t come from a pristine landscape that’s been purified by equatorial trade winds. In fact, blog Drink Tap states that 48.7 percent of bottled water is tap water.

Still, these large multi-national companies are making billions of dollars each year. It doesn’t take much to extract the water from the ground, slap an attractive yet misleading label on the bottle and sell the product at outrageously high and competitive prices.

A taste test done by Showtime Television between tap water and bottled water that supposedly isn’t tap water illustrated that 75 percent of New Yorkers preferred the taste of tap water. These statistics put any concerns of tap water’s purity and taste to rest.

Bottled water is also severely detrimental to the environment. The production of the bottles in the U.S. used the energy equivalent of 86 million barrels of oil to produce and transport plastic water bottles in 2007. That’s enough to fuel roughly 1.5 million cars for an entire year, according to The Sonoma County Gazette. On top of that, Environment 911 said only one out of every four bottles winds up in a recycling bin. The other 75 percent can be seen in landfills and bodies of water.

One reason why people continually buy plastic bottled water is because of its obvious convenience. In this day and age, people are incessantly on the go. Bottled water can keep up with that fast-paced lifestyle. However, purchasing a reusable water bottle is the perfect alternative. You can easily fill a stainless steel water bottle with tap water from your home and carry it with you throughout the day. This reusable bottle will last for years, which will save you hundreds of dollars annually.

In addition, if you aren’t a fan of the taste of your tap water or aren’t sure of its quality, you can easily purchase a filter pitcher or install a faucet filter. These inexpensive products can remove trace chemicals and bacteria.

Plastic bottled water is no purer or tastier than tap water, but harmful to both college students’ wallets and the environment. So the next time you want to purchase bottled water, consider the already extremely wealthy water bottle companies you’re supporting. Think about the harm you’re doing to the world you and your loved ones are living in. And if those factors fail to faze you, think about the money you could save for that hot spring break trip by buying a reusable bottle instead.