Saturday, April 28, 2007

On water bottles

Treehugger has an interesting article up: 70% of Americans Don't Know Plastic Is Made With Oil:

According to a recent nationwide online survey, 72 percent of the American public does not know that conventional plastic is made from petroleum products, primarily oil. Moreover, 40 percent of the respondents believe that plastic will biodegrade at some point. The survey was conducted by InsightExpress on behalf of Metabolix, a company that manufactures a biodegradable plastic made with corn. In their press release, Metabolix says "...Very few people realize that plastics are made from oil, further contributing to the problems of energy dependence, greenhouse gas emissions and depleting resources. In fact, nearly 10 percent of U.S. oil consumption - approximately 2 million barrels a day - is used to make plastic.

The first (and only) comment on the reddit page for this article states that the fact that the survey was done on behalf of Metabolix makes the results questionable, but I don't believe that. Truthfully, I'm not surprised - I don't think the majority of the people in this country care where plastic comes from, and even before reading this, I was pretty sure they didn't know where it came from.

We had a discussion about plastic bottles and bottled vs tap water in my Folklore and Literature class. Yes, it had to do with what we studying at the time - The Handmaid's Tale; it tied into the whole pollution-leading-to-dramatically-reduced-birthrate-and-male-impotence-theme of that book - and besides, our prof is a vegan feminist hippie. (Love!) Anyway, she asked us how many of us drink tap water rather than bottled, and everyone raised their hand. The issue for us (as poor college students) is cost: who wants to PAY for something that comes out of the facet for free? One girl said that she drank bottled when she was on campus, but that she reused the bottles. Our prof said that even reusing plastic bottles was unsafe, because of the harmful chemicals leached into the water. She suggested using Nalgene bottles, but I found an article that disagrees. And here's another article, from the same source, in which she clarifies her opposition to Nalgene bottles.

After our discussion in class, the girl that reused water bottles went out and bought a Nalgene bottle. I think all of us did, actually - I found a Rubbermaid bottle on clearance at work, and picked it up. After reading that second article (which claims that "2, #4, and #5 plastics are the best to use), I tried to figure out which one it was. There's no number on the bottom, so I guess I'll just have to take my chances. We do sell the bottled-in-bottles-made-from-corn water at the store, but I'm still unwilling to pay for something I can get for free at home.

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