Plastic surrounds us everywhere. Almost all of the products we use everyday are made from a form of plastic. As a consumer, the biggest contributor to my plastic footprint is plastic water bottles. I own a hydro flask that I fill up everyday before class, however there are days where I’m running late and will grab a plastic water bottle from the fridge. Plastic water bottles are convenient when I’m crunched for time and need to grab something on the go. Typically plastic water bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate also known as PET. PET is produced from petroleum hydrocarbons. Polyethylene terephthalate is polymerized to create molecular chains. This allows it to produce PET bottles later on. The water bottles are made by melting plastic pellets, and injecting the melted plastic into multiple-cavity molds. They are then shipped to bottling facilities.
The life cycle of a water bottle starts when it is manufactured. After, they are distributed to stores where they are sold. On average a single plastic water bottle lasts me around a few hours. Once it’s empty I try to recycle it, but if that’s not an option I throw it in the trash. If the bottle is recycled it gets shredded down into flakes, and then melted down into pellets. The pellets are then sold to companies that can melt them and turn them into different products. If the bottle doesn’t end up getting recycled it could end up in a few places. The three most common things to happen to the bottles are, they end up in a landfill, the ocean, or they get incinerated. When the bottles end up in a landfill or the ocean, the PET can take up to ten years to break down. When the plastic is in the landfills over time the toxic chemicals leach into the ground, which ultimately could end up in the water we drink. When in the ocean, the plastic affects marine ecosystems and could harm the sea life. Animals mistake the plastic as food and eat it. This is not only harmful for them, but for us too. In addition, when the plastic is incinerated it releases harmful toxins back into the atmosphere.
We are in control of our consumption of plastic. To help prevent the plastic from ending up in landfills or the ocean, it’s important to recycle or refrain from purchasing plastic bottles. There are alternative reusable water bottles that can be used to replace plastic ones.